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Columnist dubs local music festival wild success

IMG_0109The team of the 19th annual Magnolia Fest cultivated one of the best festivals I have attended. Throughout the event, the music was fantastic, the weather was perfect, and the vibe was extremely welcoming. With that in mind, I compiled a list of my MagFest Five Fav Memories:

5. Entering the festival and the campsite

It is always enchanting to enter the grounds at Spirit of Suwannee Music Park. The trees in the entryway were draped in decorative light, which made for a beautiful atmosphere. It took no time at all for my friends to have their “I get it” moment, as this was their first time at the park.

Just when my friends and I thought we had a great camp setup, we noticed that our neighbors were clearly the true Suwannee professionals. The campsite next to us included a fire pit, 40-foot decorated tarp, numerous moving lights with changing colors, homemade lanterns in the trees, and great tunes being played all weekend. Needless to say, it was pretty easy to find our campsite; all we had to do was look for the giant multicolored tarp.

4. The Motet late night

One of the best late-night acts around, the Colorado funk circus delivered a two-hour relentless dance party Saturday night at the Amphitheatre. Utilizing their unique blend of retro funk and experimental dance music, their energy saturated the Spanish moss.

3. Roosevelt “the Dr.” Collier with the Travelin’ McCourys

I will admit that I was extremely unsure as to how this collaboration would turn out, but I was absolutely blown away. The Dr. blended his touch of funk and southern blues with the Travelin’ McCourys’ high-energy folk in way that pushed the melodic boundaries. It was extra special when Del McCoury joined the band for part of the set.

2. The Avett Brothers’ rendition of “Kick Drum Heart”

Prior to this set, I would have never considered myself a fan of the Avett Brothers, but they certainly converted me. Their undeniable passion for the music was mesmerizing. Their rendition of “Kick Drum Heart” toward the end of the set was an absolute explosion of energy that caused the crowd to erupt in euphoria. It was one of the most beautiful moments I have experienced as part of the crowd at a concert.

1. Getting by with a little help from Tedeschi Trucks Band

Few musical acts achieve a synergy comparable to Derek Trucks and Susan Tedeschi. His razor sharp guitar solos blended with her magnificent voice always cuts directly to my soul. After one of the most beautiful sets of music I have ever seen, they played an outstanding cover version of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help from My Friends” as an encore.

IMG_3131 (1)Rising Star – Heather Gillis

This 16-year-old sat in with Col. Bruce Hampton for both of his sets and absolutely stole the show. Her soulful melodic exploration and undeniable comfort onstage was far beyond what one would expect to see from such a young musician. I very much anticipate watching her mature as an artist in the years to come.

Overall, MagFest was a wonderful experience—unlike any other Suwannee Festival I have attended. The musical diversity, wonderful vibe, and beautiful community will certainly motivate me to return.

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