Words of Larissa Nemeth | Stills by Cristina Byrne
Let's begin this story upside down- with the moral right up front: you'll always be glad you brought a hat- and that's NOT fake news.
Anyway, without further ado, here is what happens when DIBS does FloydFest.
When coasting the last few miles of our seven-hour Virginia excursion through Lehigh Valley, PA, I somehow didn't expect that scenery. The moody haze of the Blue Ridge mountains playing backdrop to the ridge setting out over what can only be described as the gorge below. The FloydFest experience was wholesome AF and I'll do the best I can to tell you the story of the DIBS girls' three days on the mountain.
While these types of music festivals offer so much (remember when the term “festival” was mainly used as its definition intended - a day or period of celebration, typically a religious commemoration? Throwback.), the heartbeat of the event is inevitably the sound. At FloydFest, there are chords soaring across the landscape constantly.
You can tell this event has just about two decades under its belt. I think it is really important to mention at the fore the ease with which we were able to navigate this "mountain home", especially the stages. I never missed an act I was hoping to see and for a human with my lack of height and even for the multitude of children in attendance, there wasn’t really a bad seat in the house.
After setting up our home at our super instagramable campsite, we heard the familiar chords of Tyler Childers from on top of the hill in the fast-waning daylight. We started off to see him play. Hiking up a dirt road led to a long open space (on top of that ridge I mentioned earlier) and revealed at its end a stage with musicians rending out their hearts in front of a backdrop made of trees. What followed when we arrived can only be described as a flawless set. I was particularly in love with his performances of "Sweet Lady May" and "Universe of Sound". I actually fell in love with his music right then and there.
From there we wandered to the hill-holler stage for the out- of-this-world-yet-grounded-and-funky-as-hell Fantastic Negrito. We ended our first evening at the pink Floyd beer garden stage (a noted favorite spot to catch sounds throughout the weekend - an opinion shared by festival goers, vets and noobs alike) with a down and dirty musical celebration with The Broadcast. Comparisons to Big Brother and the Holding Company are inevitable. Your DIBS girls had a fine first evening.
Saturday offered decompression and allowed us to get situated in this foreign but welcoming place. Saturday was a day for making friends, learning new tricks (Cristina learned to devil-stick!), sampling delicious food, exploring vendors, and taking pictures of shoes. We caught Blue Mule at the Ferrum College Workshop Porch and we had a particularly sweet acapella experience with the Virginia Gentlemen. I had a total fan-girl moment when I passed one of them walking the grounds later that night! We enjoyed some light dancing and opening of our third eyes during the String Cheese Incident, a definite crowd favorite. We culminated Saturday night with Buffalo Jam featuring lots of guest appearances doing a set of covers with the theme of home.
Sunday was the strongest lineup of the weekend. The DIBS girls prepped themselves for a long day of back to back sets - one fester called it "Lilith Fair" - by taking advantage of the (FREE! FREE! FREE!) off-site excursions. There were a wide range of outdoor activities offered by the festival and third party vendors: hiking, biking, boating, ziplining and more. Some options were an additional cost. The option we selected was a three-mile loop off the Blue Ridge Parkway where we enjoyed incredible vistas, butterflies, wildflowers, and good company. Cristina and I were priming our bodies for the artistic workout we were heading back to.
We first settled in for the cheeky ADORABLE Brit, Jade Bird. She was high-energy and just the perfect combination of fierce and fresh. Her songs "Uh-Huh", "Lottery" and covers of "I’ve Been Everywhere" and "Walk Like an Egyptian" were all standout moments in her set.
Next up on the dreaming creek stage was Margo Price. It was SUCH a pleasure to witness the roots-country flower(power)-child play with such surprising exuberance - her recordings leveled up when played live in that setting. She rallied through "A Little Pain" and had the audience sweetly surrender to her during "American Made". Kacey Musgraves sparkled in the setting summer sun and Lukas Nelson and The Promise of The Real gave a strong final showing to cap off this incredible weekend.
We headed back north Monday morning feeling rejuvenated by nature and song-fueled by mountain spring water provided at the amazing water refill station (a Cristina favorite). This trip filled us with everything we were looking for and gave us a taste of a home away from home. We can’t wait to see what is on tap for next year's 20th anniversary celebration, and what other magical mountain experiences lay in store.