The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park was a sight to behold as the Suwannee Spring Reunion captivated audiences with its stunning showcase of Bluegrass, Americana, and folk music from March 23rd to March 26th. The event lived up to expectations and delivered an exceptional ambiance of camping, music, dancing, and community, all presented with exceptional style. With five stages boasting a remarkable lineup of talented musicians, the Suwannee Spring Reunion offered four days of sheer revelry and excitement. The lineup combined crowd-pleasing favorites with red-hot acts, all poised to electrify the crowd. The event’s headliners featured legendary names such as Sam Bush, The Earls of Leicester, The Infamous Stringdusters with Molly Tuttle, Sierra Hull, Keller Williams, and more. Suwannee Spring Reunion is not just a music festival, it’s a captivating experience that unites people through the magic of music and community.
Thursday marked the start of the festival, with Armchair Boogie taking the stage to kick off the festival. As the evening progressed, Leftover Salmon wowed the crowd on the amphitheater stage. Friday was packed with talent, including Nikki Talley and Jason Sharp, the all-girl band Big Richard, Keller Williams, and The Earls of Leicester. The highlight of the day was undoubtedly the tribute to the late Guy Clark by Verlon Thompson and Shawn Camp. The duo received two margaritas on stage inside the music hall just before performing Clark’s famous song, Dublin Blues. The founder of New Grass Music, Sam Bush, graced the amphitheater with his amazing returning artist set. The night ended with a difficult choice between The Ain’t Sisters or another performance by Leftover Salmon. On Saturday, festival-goers were treated to The Habanero Honeys, featuring festival director Beth Judy. During their set, a parade of attendees gracefully strolled past Judy, presenting her with a flower while the band sang “You are a Flower.” It was an emotional moment for all, including me. Other notable performances included Jon Stickley Trio, Hattie and Joe Craven, and workshops by Tom Nelly and Barry Sagar. The stage music ended with sets by Donna The Buffalo on The Amphitheater Stage and Jon Stickley Trio in the dance tent. These remarkable performances left music lovers with a sense of awe and a deep appreciation for the power of music and community. Suwannee Spring Reunion is not just a music festival; it’s a transformative experience that unites people through the harmonious power of live performances and shared passion for exceptional music. Vassar Sunday is always a bittersweet day, as it provides an opportunity for festival-goers to honor the memory of the legendary Florida fiddle player Vassar Clements, as well as other musicians who performed at Spirit of the Suwannee over the years, and members of the Suwannee community. This year, Vassar Sunday was a particularly special occasion, with performances by a number of talented artists, including Roy Book Binder, Belle and the Band, Rev Jeff Mosier, Verlon Thompson, John Mainlander, and The Grass Is Dead. As a special treat and honor this year, I had the opportunity to sit in with The Ain’t Sisters on flute during their Sunday afternoon dance tent set, which gave me an even bigger dose of Suwannee magic that I will never forget. The day culminated in the traditional closing set by Donna the Buffalo,The festival left attendees with a profound feeling of wonder and gratitude for the transformative power of music and those who gravitate to it.
As a music lover, this festival has always been one of my favorites. From the moment I arrived, I felt an inner peace and a surge of creative energy in the air. As always the Suwannee family went above and beyond to create beautiful and functional campsites that were bursting with unique personalities, whimsy, and even a touch of glamor. The park had several updated bathhouses with plenty of warm water, and an impressive general store that had everything I had forgotten in an effort to pack lightly. The music hall was also a great retreat from the Florida sun and a chance to enjoy a fantastic afternoon cocktail.
As a musician myself, the campfire jam sessions were the highlight of the festival for me. The Bill Monroe Shrine, hosted by Quartermoon, and Slopryland, hosted by Sloppy Joe, were both great environments to enjoy intimate music or connect with other musicians. I also stumbled upon several other campsites where impromptu jamming was encouraged, and it was a joy to once again play music with long time friends. The sense of community was palpable and incredible to see how music brought everyone together. Although community was an integral part of Suwannee Spring Reunion, it wasn’t the only thing that made the festival special. As I immersed myself in the music and festivities, I felt a deep sense of joy and creativity that sparked within me. Playing music with others and experiencing the pure fun of the festival left me feeling inspired and rejuvenated, eager to continue making music and experiencing new adventures.
Amidst the enchanting wilderness surrounding the Suwannee River, the energy of the festival lingers on the air, beckoning music lovers from far and wide. It’s a place where the sounds of soulful tunes mingle with the rustling of leaves, and where the mystical aura of Suwannee enchantment fills the air. The festival is a transformational experience that leaves one feeling renewed and refreshed, like a gentle breeze sweeping away the worries of the world. As I reflect on this year’s festivities I extend our heartfelt gratitude to festival director Beth Judy, her devoted team, the park staff, and the volunteers who make this magical event possible.
Don’t miss out on the unforgettable experience that is Suwannee Roots Revival coming up in October! Watch www. SuwanneeRootsRevial.com and follow the festival on social media to find out when early bird ticket sales will begin! This year’s lineup is set to feature incredible artists such as Hot Tuna Electric, Peter Rowan, Donna the Buffalo, Big Richard, The New Quintet, Sloppy Joe, Quarter Moon, and many more to be announced. Join us in the enchanting wilderness of Suwannee for a transformative experience that will leave you feeling renewed and refreshed. See you there!