I’ve always looked at the Blue Ridge Parkway National Park as the heart of Appalachian culture. It provides a path through some of America’s most aesthetically pleasing and culturally important areas. Here we can experience the sounds and comfort of nature while celebrating the diverse cultures of music and art that have diverged from the heart of one of the country’s most unique regions.
One of these traditions that has risen from the culture of the Blue Ridge is Across-the-Way Production’s FloydFest, right outside the fabled town of Floyd, Virginia. Dubbed this year as “FloydFest 18~Wild,” it promises a wildly fun weekend for the entire family, full of unique collaborations, multiple workshops and outdoor activities, unforgettable moments, and new friends you are bound to meet down in the holler. With the festival starting on Wednesday, July 25, and going all the way through Sunday, July 29, here are some day-by-day shows and activities you should not miss, whether as a FloydFest first-timer or as part of the extended Floyd Fest Family.
The first day of FloydFest 18~Wild showcases the 2017 On The Rise (OTR) champions with South Hill Banks, as well as runners-up, Dharma Bombs, to headline the evening at the Pink Floyd Beer Garden. They will be preceded by two current OTR bands, Gryzzle and the Willie DE Band. The OTR program lets local and national bands compete for a chance to play on the Dreaming Creek Main Stage the following year as well as a state-of-the-art microphone package and more. Over on the brand new Throwdown Stage, we have some FloydFest family in the house, with a heaping helping of Mad Iguanas, GOTE, and The Jam, all with unique improvisational prowess brought to you by the Roanoke area’s finest musicians.
Thursday kicks the festival into full swing with music, panels, and workshops lasting all day, from first thing in the morning to The Lil’ Smokies late night Throwdown set at 1 a.m., which is sure to set the pace for the rest of the weekend. Headlining Thursday night will be southern rock all-stars, Gov’t Mule, and singer/songwriter Hiss Golden Messenger. Tyler Childers will be gracing us with his presence and perspective at 5:30 p.m. on the Ferrum College Workshop Stage for an intimate show, before heading to the Main Stage at 7:45 p.m. Don’t forget to rock with Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, who will perform on the Hill Holler at Midnight.
Friday brings back FloydFest veterans Leftover Salmon for some good old Poly-ethnic Cajun Slamgrass. Foster the People will also bring a wild energy to the FloydFest grounds. However, the can’t-miss show of the entire weekend will be midnight at the Hill Holler Stage where up-and-coming blues rockers out of Michigan, Greta Van Fleet will take us into the wee hours of Saturday. Coming all the way from Paris this week, they will appear on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon on the way to FloydFest, as they have gained global recognition over the last few years. Quickly following them, for a late night set, is one of North Carolina’s best jam groups, The Broadcast, lighting up the Pink Floyd Beer Garden Stage and bringing fans back to their feet before the night comes to an end.
Our fourth day at FloydFest brings the Wild to a pinnacle. Not only will we see Keller Williams on multiple stages, including a solo act as well as many collaborations planned through the evening, but the day will also be packed full of guided outdoor adventures from hiking, biking, and yoga. Music kicks in full gear by 9 p.m. with the electric and eclectic Infamous Stringdusters, followed By Grammy winners Jason Isbell and 400 unit. The highlight of the evening will be the third annual Buffalo Jam. Seeding from an impromptu set filler after Greg Allman became too ill to play, a tradition started that brought many artists to the stage to collaborate, tell stories, and have a good time paying homage to the rock gods of the past. Keller Williams, Antibalas, Leftover Salmon and many more will be leading this year’s jam.
Sundays are for bluegrass and FloydFest offers nothing but the best. Heading off will be bluegrass staples Old Crow Medicine Show, who will be the final band on the main stage. Long time veterans of FloydFest, Old Crow can be expected to offer many stories and even more collaborations. Leading up to that set is an all star lineup including The Lil’ Smokies, The Infamous Stringdusters, and a special set by Keller Williams called PettyGrass, paying homage to the late Tom Petty.
Be sure to get your tickets before they hit their sales cap, and if the weekend is too long for ya, FloydFest offers both day passes and VIP packages here.
Article by Will Crowell