Suwannee Rising, the newest festival at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (www.musicliveshere.com), debuted with a magical feel and an undeniable vibe. The festival, held April 4-6, 2019, consisted of 23 bands over three days on two stages. Approximately 3,000 people made the trek to Live Oak, Fla., for Rising’s inaugural year—an impressive number for a festival put together in a short amount of time. Rising staff did a remarkable job of executing the entire production, leaving it easy to believe attendance will grow significantly in the coming years.
I spoke with many veterans of Wanee, Bear Creek, Mag Fest, and Spring Fest, as well as general lovers of the park who were there for their first SOSMP festival, and everyone felt the price they paid was well worth it regardless of whether it was general admission or VIP. People were so impressed with the seamless production of the festival. For a weekend that was supposed to be filled with rain and thunderstorms, Mother Nature once again blessed the magical Spirit of the Suwannee with nearly perfect weather. If anything, the nighttime storms provided a much-needed reprieve from the dust and dirt that come along with camping.
Rising’s music definitely did not disappoint. All the bands were good, and several were amazing as was expected. Some bands that I was not familiar with came out to throw down and will not be forgotten. Oteil & Friends brought an incredible energy to the crowd and delivered a solid set from start to finish. They left those aware of their music completely fulfilled, and those who were not fans before are now. Both sets of Lettuce delivered the funk full force and didn’t let up—a perfect closing band for Friday and Saturday. I heard much debate about which set was better (night 1 or night 2); for me, I couldn’t pick one as both were incredible and, truthfully, it was hard to stop dancing long enough to take pictures to go with this article… the true struggle of a music lover. My personal standout favorites (excluding those already mentioned) for the weekend were: Thursday– The Fritz and The Newmaster Sounds; Friday– The New Orleans Suspects and Ghost-Note; and Saturday– Ghost-Note(again) and Dumpstaphunk. If you are not familiar with any of the above bands, do yourself a favor and start listening. You will not be disappointed.
To me, one of the hardest parts about attending a festival is attempting to make it to every show you want to see with there being different stages and struggling to plan your day correctly. Whomever arranged Rising’s schedule did a fantastic job from start to finish. I heard many people discussing how pleased they were with the ease of the two stages and how they felt they could relax and get everywhere they wanted to on time. For anyone who had children there—and there were quite a few—the ease was even more appreciated. Although some veterans of other shows at the park may have missed the large field stage area, I am certain the need for the additional area will grow with the success of Rising.
Although many festival goers were not initially sure what to think about Rising and what felt like the death of Wanee, I am here to tell you as a 20-year veteran of SOSMP that all is right with the music world. This festival has a bright future. I encourage each of you to add Suwanee Rising to your festival lineup as an April “must do.” It is certainly a welcome addition to my own personal festival lineup!
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