For promoters Kris Hodges and Erika Johnson, putting a FloydFest line-up together is like an art project. The project started last July, when the husband and wife team booked the Avett Brothers and their honky-tonk-bluegrass-pop sound immediately following their main stage performance at FloydFest 2005. They then added Garaj Mahal, whose groove-heavy improvisations were a fan favorite in 2004, Iris Dement, an alt-country hipsters dream, and Cyro Baptista, the “beautiful man with the beautiful band” of freaky percussion and patchwork world colors.
Drew Emmitt, Adrienne Young and Little Sadie, Dirk Powell, and Tim O’Brien further solidified the line-up, but when questions arose as to this year’s headliners, FloydFest put its fate in the hands of the very fans that keep it going, asking them to choose among Los Lobos, Toots and the Maytals and Michael Franti and Spearhead, in an online poll of 10,000 email subscribers. Fans were also asked to choose a “second tier” act from Donna the Buffalo, Michelle Shocked and Laura Love. With the fans’ input, FloydFest cemented Los Lobos’ only East Coast festival appearance following the release of their new album, and invited festival darlings Donna the Buffalo to return to give the weekend the final push as FloydFest 5 takes flight yet again.
Despite its eclectic line-up of roots and world music allstars, FloydFest has always been about a lot more than the music. As the shuttle buses fill up on the final night of every weekend, whisperings through the windows speak of an imminent return for many festival-goers. While the music wins over new fans every year, just as many make the return trek to revisit the beautiful Blue Ridge surroundings and clean, relaxed, family-friendly breezes that blow through FloydFest’s surrounding countryside. This year’s festival opens its arms yet again with the promise of great food, great vendors, great vibes, and great music for fans of all ages and tastes.
Just like past years, this year’s still-growing line-up provides sounds for every ear. In December, Across the Way Productions added the funky style and clever lyrics of Gabby La La and virtuoso ukulele player Jake Shimabukuru to FloydFest’s signature eclectic creativity. Balfa Toujours and Charivari add some Cajun spice, and returning favorites Appalachian Roots with Ira Bernstein and Riley Baugus will keep the Blue Ridge die-hards moving in the “Blue Ridge to Bayou Dance Tent.” Meanwhile, the unique thatch-roofed stage at the Global Village will heat up the night with Fela Kuti protégées Rhythm Taxi and the returning Akoya Afrobeat Ensemble, the hard-hitting dance mix of Lamine Toure and Group Saloum, and the hot new Toubab Krewe from Asheville, NC. The Campbell<