Debut Headin’ Home Fest report

Little Roy & Lizzy Show at Headin’ Home Fest ’22 – photo by Libby Lindblom

Following their very first run at hosting a festival, which was nearly interrupted by a hurricane, the Lindblom family (Headin’ Home Bluegrass) shared this report from their Headin’ Home Festival 2022.

The inaugural Headin’ Home Fest in Lyons, GA was held this past weekend, November 10-13, 2022. Despite a last-minute change of plan due to Hurricane Nicole, the festival was a big success, and a much- appreciated haven for attendees from all over the country, especially those who traveled up from Florida to escape the storm.

Host band Headin’ Home, comprised of the Lindblom family from south Georgia, put on the festival at the Ohoopee River Campground in Lyons. The hurricane weather brought an extra level of challenge to their first annual event, however, early last week the decision was made to move Thursday and Friday indoors to a nearby auditorium, the Southeastern Technical College in Vidalia. The team running Headin’ Home Fest handled these changes with resilience and grace. A shuttle service was provided between the two locations, and festival goers were clearly informed of the adapted accommodations. Many campers arrived at the campground a day or two early before the storm blew in. Though the inclement weather obviously did have some effect, the attendance, atmosphere, and organization of the event came off quite well.

Thursday the 10th kicked off at the college with a potluck dinner in the warm, dry, indoor foyer. An open stage in the auditorium featured eight talented local acts, including The Brothers Five — the younger half of the Lindblom family. Brothers Linus (16, guitar), Logan (15, bass), Liam (13, fiddle), Levi (11, banjo), and Leo (8, mandolin) entertained the crowd with their youthful energy and strong sibling harmonies.

Friday the 11th, festival goers again congregated in the large, beautiful auditorium at the college, while the worst of the storm beat down outside. Willie Wells & The Blue Ridge Mountain Grass opened the show with an impressive level of professionalism. As the owner of Bill’s Music Shop in Columbia, SC, Willie Wells is carrying on his father Bill’s band and legacy by preserving traditional grass the way it’s meant to sound.

The Edgar Loudermilk Band took the stage next. Headed by IIIrd Tyme Out veteran and Louvin Brothers descendent Edgar Loudermilk — and joined by seasoned musicians Jamie PiIman on guitar, Zack Autry on mandolin, and Anthony Howell on banjo — this four-piece group is a force to be reckoned with. Edgar’s meaningful original songs and soaring vocals captivated the audience. Edgar and the band performed one set each day, Friday and Saturday, delivering a five-star show to delighted fans both days.

Backline was up next on Friday. Driven by the lovely vocals of Katelyn Ingardia and the polished picking of the whole band, this group set the stage on fire with their hard-driving, modern bluegrass sound. Their stunning musicianship was warmly welcomed by the Headin’ Home Fest crowd!

Retro 78, winners of the 2022 SPBGMA International Band Championship, brought the house down with two sets of high-powered bluegrass that filled every corner of the spacious auditorium. Their powerhouse vocals are of legendary quality, resembling such iconic vocal bands as IIIrd Tyme Out or Quicksilver. Their performances at Headin’ Home Fest were explosively strong, reminding fascinated listeners that this band is quickly rising to the top.

Host band Headin’ Home performed Friday, as well as Saturday. Spearheading the festival and managing all aspects of it themselves — with family members stationed at the ticket booth, front door, backstage, soundboard, raffle table, merch table, shuttle bus, and more — Headin’ Home played to an engaged and excited audience, generating an encore both nights. The 6-piece family group is comprised of Jon Lindblom (dad) on bass and vocals, Marina Lindblom (mom) on fiddle, Luke Lindblom (24) on dobro, Libby Lindblom (22) on guitar, Lucy Lindblom (20) on mandolin, and Timothy Lindblom (18) on banjo. Jon, Libby, and Lucy handle the majority of the vocal work. The enthusiastic festival goers let their host band know how much they appreciated their dedicated work throughout the weekend, by their roaring support when Headin’ Home stepped on stage.

A delightful array of food vendors braved the storm and brought their food trucks to the college parking lot. These vendors all moved back to the campground on Saturday for the last day of the festival.

Saturday the 12th, the morning sun rose to a picture-perfect day with blue skies, white clouds, and a warm breeze. Just as planned, the entire festival moved back to the Ohoopee River Campground for its closing day. Attendees brought lawn chairs to sit in front of the little wooden stage on the banks of the beautiful Ohoopee River. Twenty participants competed in a giant hot-dog eating contest, with hot dogs sponsored by food vendor Larry’s Hot Dog Corral. Members of The Little Roy & Lizzy Show — Lizzy Long, Holger Oleson, and Josh Gooding — joined competitive festival goers to see who could cram down a loaded foot-long hot dog the fastest! The contest was a big hit with the wildly cheering crowd, and the first place winner — Vik — won the prize of two tickets to next year’s festival! (Honorary mention goes to Josh Gooding for taking third place!)

The Saturday bands were Blue Holler, Boonie Bevins & Carolina Drive, The Edgar Loudermilk Band, The Little Roy & Lizzy Show, and Headin’ Home. Happy to be back outdoors, the crowd ate up every act! Blue Holler is a tight five-piece band from south Georgia and north Florida. Their unique grassed-up arrangements of songs from other genres wowed the listeners. Seabie Ewer on bass is the leader of the group, which has been playing together for nearly 20 years.

Boonie Bevins & Carolina Drive, a group of top-notch young musicians from coastal South Carolina, are another group worth hearing. Almost a family band, they consist of Boonie on mandolin and her husband John Henry on banjo, along with soon-to-be brother-in-law Bryan Jackson on guitar and Boonie’s father Kevin on bass. Boonie’s gentle and expressive vocals are a definite highlight.

Fan favorites The Little Roy & Lizzy Show stirred up the crowd with some blazing music and good down- home entertainment! At past eighty, Little Roy hasn’t slowed down a bit! Newer band members Josh Gooding on mandolin and Will Eller on guitar have added a new level of musical energy to the show. Bass man Holger Oleson even pulled out his dobro for a few tunes, to the delight of the crowd. Lizzy Long’s red-hot fiddle playing and lovely voice are just one reason many fans flocked into the campground on Saturday especially to hear this band.

Luke Lindblom ran sound for the weekend. One band after the next commented on how exceptional the sound was. Luke worked tirelessly, having to set up all his equipment in multiple locations, and poured his heart and expertise into mixing each show. For festival runners looking for a sound guy with a sharp ear and skill for bluegrass, Luke proved himself capable of handling even the toughest scenarios at Headin’ Home Fest. The sound was just perfect every day.

The experienced MC keeping the festival on track was none other than Jo Odom from Georgia. A popular raffle engaged the crowd each day of the festival. Two tickets were drawn each night; one was a 50/50 ticket, and the other was a band merch prize basket filled with donated items from all of that day’s bands. The 50/50 raffle winners on both nights, Bob B. and Mike R., both generously donated their prize money back to the festival!

Sunday morning, a large crowd of jammers gathered by the campground stage for Mike and Mary Robinson’s Bluegrass Gospel Sing & Jam. Gospel music rang out in the frosty early morning air, which was electric with anticipation already toward next year’s festival!

Despite the hurricane, jamming rang out throughout Headin’ Home Fest at every possible chance, and in every dry corner! In backstage rooms at the college, under camper awnings at the campground, and everywhere in between, jammers gathered to pick and grin. The entire festival atmosphere was one of a big family — good friends enjoying music together, with those who were new being quickly invited into this community full of such joyful music and fellowship. Headin’ Home Fest struck up strong in south Georgia this past weekend and showed all of us in bluegrass what our music is really all about. This music will go on, preserved by those who love it, growing stronger by challenges, adapting as needed, and always continuing to grow.

The dates for the 2nd Annual Headin’ Home Fest are November 9-12, 2023 in Swainsboro, GA, and announcements with the band lineup and campsite reservations will be made very soon at!

See you at Headin’ Home Fest 2023!