Fandango on Tap – FloydFest Celebrates 10th Year

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A sea of people enjoy the music during last year’s Floydfest.

A sea of people enjoy the music during last year’s Floydfest.

by Gene Marrano

Kris Hodges, his life partner Erika Johnson, and the rest of their Across-the-Way production team will be very busy in July, as they stage Floyd Fandango and FloydFest on their bucolic patch of land, up on the mountain.

Floyd Fandango, a beer and wine festival with music, takes place this weekend, July 2-3, near milepost 170.5 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. About two dozen local and regional breweries and wineries will be on hand; $25 advance tickets ($30 at the gate) gets you a wine or beer glass for tastings.

There’s music of course, an eclectic group of performers assembled largely by Hodges, a musician himself who has traveled around the world looking for unique talents.  JJ Grey & Mofro, Anders Osborne, These United States, a reunited Acoustic Syndicate and Dangermuffin are headliners.

JJ Grey is a soul singer from Florida, with a full horn section, Hammond organ and a bevy of backup singers. “An amazing singer – real good southern soul music,” said Hodges. Acoustic Syndicate were forerunners of the “newgrass” music scene and appeared at the first few FloydFests.

New Orleans native Anders Osborne, an electric guitarist and songwriter, is a “phenomenal cat. I’m really excited about him,” adds Hodges. There will be two stages set up for Floyd Fandango, which Hodges calls a “glorified beer and wine garden.” Children are allowed in (free 5 and under) and a pinball arcade will help keep them amused. Hodges is aiming for an Americana feel at Fandango, which includes some attendees that also make their way to FloydFest later in the month.

Fandango began as a beer fest only five years ago; a year later Wine Down the Music Trail took its place and now the two events have morphed into Fandango, which has always been held during the Fourth of July weekend. Hodges figures a combination beer-wine event works better with an “over saturation” of wine festivals.

Attendance has been growing at Fandango for the past few years, according to Hodges, who manages two other wine festivals, including Vintage Virginia in Centreville, with his Across the Way team. (See floydfandango.com for more information.)

Then there is FloydFest, the annual celebration of music and a cultural happening in its tenth year. Hodges will have ten music venues on the Floydfest site, which will offer some outdoor experiences this year – biking and hiking on the property – to go along with the all day / all night music, camping, food, arts and craft vendors that have been part of the event for many years.

Hodges also expects a sellout of around 14,000 per day for the July 28-31 event, which has been expanded by one day since last year. Bikes can be rented on site and a Frisbee golf course will be available for those that need a break from the music. Nature walks around the FloydFest property and a drive to the Dan River on Saturday morning (July 30) for “any of the crazies that actually bring a kayak,” will also be offered – as will extreme camping.

There are dozens and dozens of bands and individual performers in the lineup this year, including the Under the Radar series that features up and coming but fairly unknown artists. Old Crow Medicine Show, Taj Mahal, Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, Railroad Earth and the Del McCoury Band are among the headliners. The first few years of FloydFest was “more pain and struggle than I care to recall,” said Hodges, who nonetheless had the vision that the annual happening “was here to stay.”

Now he receives countless music samplings and queries from musicians that want to be a part of FloydFest, which attracts music lovers of all ages and demographics. Everything from bluegrass and true mountain music to rock, jazz and soul are always on the menu.

“It feels amazing to be standing here in year ten,” said Hodges, who said promoters at much larger festivals like Bonaroo in Tennessee are envious of his event, which is not “out of control” like some others in regards to safety, the amount of trash generated, etc. Hodges has worked Bonaroo in a support capacity before. “I have some stories that can make you shiver,” he chuckles.

The 10th anniversary of FloydFest will be celebrated in a “colorful fashion,” promised Hodges, who selected the image of a mythical Phoenix for “The EXperience” theme. “We’re closing this decade with a bang.” About 70 percent of the performers this year have appeared at FloydFest before. Thursday (July 28) is a full day this year and the 27th has been added as a half day.

“Everyone’s just blown away by the lineup this year,” said Hodges. He likes Trampled by Turtles that will open for Old Crow Medicine Show on Thursday-Friday. Hot Tuna’s appearance leaves Hodges “extremely excited,” and the Afro-beat of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 highlights Saturday night’s show.

“I’m closing off the decade with respect and remembrance for what built FloydFest,” said Hodges, who has always tried to demonstrate a link between African rhythms and the sounds of Appalachia. “There’s a lot of great names and a lot of great music,” said Hodges.

 

See floydfest.com or the festival’s Facebook page for more information, or call 888-VA-FESTS.