Friday at FloydFest

FloydFest 11 is off and running!  This is an incredible venue, if you’ve never been, so sheltered on the breathtaking Blue Ridge Parkway (Mile Post 170.5) and seemingly remote, but packed full of revelers, vendors and enough musical acts to keep six music stages full at all times. The sun keeps peeking out from behind storm clouds, which only lends to the air of magic that permeates this festival.

I arrived last night in time for a performance by fiddle phenom Nate Leath, with his new band Leathal Matter. Nate is all over Floyd… also playing with his Boston Boys, sitting in with Love Canon, and a guest appearance late night with Drew Emmit’s band (which turned out to be most of Leftover Salmon in the end. Teaser alert: Yes! They are back! Hopefully more on them later.) We will chat with Nate, too, about the band’s forthcoming album, a preview of which we got last night.

We hit the ground running this morning, catching the second act on the main stage, L Shape Lot, out of Wilmington, NC. We camped next to them last year, and so just happened to both listen to and interview them about their opportunity to participate in the FloydFest Under the Radar Series. Turns out L Shape Lot was THE 2011 winner! The “prize” was a prime time slot on this year’s main stage.

We caught up with the guys afterwards. Guitarist Alex Lanier told me that band mate and funnyman, Eric Miller called to tell him the news “I thought is this April Fools? We really won?”

Beating out a stable of other contestants, I asked him what he thought the band’s “it” factor was in the end. “I think our Americana sound really suits the Floyd vibe well,” said Alex  Another in a growing group of bluegrass bands with drums and electric guitars, they were joined on stage by Brian Swank from 2010 UTR winning band Big Daddy Love (we’ll catch up with them later, too!)  I asked if they had any clue how this honor would impact the band’s momentum. “Are you kidding,” asked Eric “this is our Super Bowl!” Their performance was a touchdown for sure.

The main stage is going to be a real who-is-who of Bluegrass and Americana this weekend. Gary Clark Jr., just finished his blistering blues/funk set, and the Drive By Truckers are setting up, to be followed by Leftover Salmon. Saturday boasts a wide array of artists from the Punch Brothers to Michael Franti & Spearhead, and Sunday should knock anyone who is still standing over with Sam Bush, Bruce Hornsby, the Steep Canyon Rangers, Ricky Skaggs and Alison Krauss.

There are still tickets left, and the weather is fantastic up here. There’s a perpetual breeze and brilliant sunshine. It’s not too late to throw your tent in the car and join us!


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About the Author

Diane Farineau

Diane Farineau, her husband, photographer, Milo and their friend, photographer, Chester Simpson, hatched a brilliant plan last year to write a book about music festivals. Somewhere along the way The Festival Project, as it has now become, turned into a website and a blog and an amazing journey into the world of today's bluegrass and Americana artists and festival scene. When not listening to or writing about music, Diane has a day job as a hospital administrator, is a mom of two musical teenagers, and writes about life's never ending stream of ironies.