Beloved venue Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park, home to Hulaween and many other fests year round, dodged Hurricane Michael as the massive storm tracked west, sparing the park any major damage before this week’s Suwannee Roots Revival kicked off miraculously on time. While Michael devastated towns along the pan handle as it roared inland, Suwannee staff buckled down and tensely waited through Wednesday’s day and night of whipping winds and driving storms, waiting to see what damage occurred. Surveying the damage in the wee early hours before sunrise with spotlights, the owner of the Park, James Cornett, and his eagle-eyed crew found lots of tree limbs down, some wet campers who had braved the storm, and surprisingly little damage.
The decision to open for the weekend had never really been in doubt, in his mind. Between the irrigation and drainage system, the incredible year-round grounds crew and the Roots Revival production crew, Cornett knew it was possible to build the entire fest from scratch in record time. As soon as the all clear was sounded at dawn, the stage crews vaulted into action with a job that normally took three days. Miraculously, these battle-hardened veterans pulled off their seemingly impossible task, prepping all three stages in under nine hours. When 3:30 rolled around, the first scheduled act took the stage as planned after a quick sound check to hearty cheers and a sigh of relief from an exhilarated but exhausted cadre of production heroes.
Joe Craven brought the Suwannee Roots crowd together for the opening of the Suwannee Roots Revival with a set of songs that heavily featured classic Jerry Garcia and Grateful Dead tunes. After a tension-filled day of Floridians fleeing their homes from the wrath of Hurricane Michael, the music fans were in the mood to blow off steam and Craven’s set proved a perfect tonic for their woes. Craven and his band, The Sometimers, was the perfect choice for the job with his decades of loving devotion to the park and just-released Garcia Songbook, a collection of Garcia and mandolin maven David Grisman tunes that Craven had a hand in crafting and performing with the musical icons. Check out their take on a legendary tune below:
Joe Craven & The Sometimers “Friend Of The Devil”
California’s Dustbowl Revival delivered their eclectic mix of roots music, horns, and Americana that caught crowds off guard as they seized on that opportunity to create an indelible impression on listeners’ hearts and souls. With an audience ready to shake off lingering fears and worries, they had an already receptive audience who were primed and ready for any reason to celebrate and they gave the audience all the energy they had and more with a fun mix of covers and engaging originals. Check out some of the amazing tunes they laid down at the Suwannee Roots Reunion!
Dustbowl Revival “Breakfast In America”
Dustbowl Revival “Honey I Love You”
The rest of the weekend looks to be set to go off with only minor alterations to the schedule due to artists facing travel difficulties thanks to Hurricane Michael. The park and the event waited to the last minute to reassure their fans they were opening to be absolutely certain they could provide a safe and secure weekend for folks traveling across dangerous terrain in the aftermath of the devastating weather system. They made several pleas for fans to give to charities that would help those who lost homes and memories and were completely reverent of the losses these fine folks were facing while still wanting to celebrate the triumph of life over adversity. Those wanting to help the survivors of this catastrophe can find numerous ways to do so HERE.
The rest of the weekend, featuring acts like Oteil Burbridge, Keller Williams, Samantha Fish, Leftover Salmon and more, will carry on and we’ll have updates and videos all weekend. Tickets are available at the gate for the three remaining days of the Suwannee Roots Revival. Stay tuned for more from this amazing event from one of America’s most-loved venue, the extremely aptly named Spirit Of The Suwannee Music Park!