Suwannee Spring Reunion
LIVE OAK, FL — Swing into spring in the most spectacular of ways at Suwannee Spring Reunion, taking place Thursday through Sunday, March 21-24 at The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) in Live Oak, FL. Enjoy four days and nights of music rooted in Americana, newgrass, bluegrass, folk, blues, and more. This family friendly festival is set in the midst of 800 acres of majestic Spanish moss-draped oak and cypress trees along the Suwannee River, the venue is a picturesque playground for endless activities including swimming, canoeing, kayaking, yoga, and disc golf.
The 2024 Suwannee Spring Reunion features music on multiple stages and includes Sam Bush, Railroad Earth, Steep Canyon Rangers, Peter Rowan Walls of Time Band, Donna the Buffalo, Keller Williams’ PettyGrass ft. The HillBenders, Bettye LaVette, The Steel Wheels, Town Mountain, Seth Walker, Jon Stickley Trio, Fireside Collective, Darrell Scott, Jim Lauderdale, Hattie & Joe Craven Trio, Verlon Thompson, Shawn Camp, Jeff Mosier Ensemble, The Grass Is Dead, Roy Book Binder, Leon Timbo & The Family Band, David Grier, Colby T Helms & The Virginia Creepers, Nikki Talley Band, Free Range Strange, Sloppy Joe, Quartermoon, Habanero Honeys, John Mailander: Artist At Large, and Magic Moon Traveling Circus.
“Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, Florida, would seem the most unlikely of bluegrass epicenters, but legends and new stars alike flock there every spring for an in-the-know festival,” wrote Rolling Stone’s Garret Woodward.
The lineup includes artists with storied histories of epic Suwannee performances over the years. Matching the history on the stage, longtime park hosts, Randy and Beth Judy, are partnered with the Spirit of the Suwannee to make sure that every piece needed to make an epic weekend. It is home to generations of families who have gathered year after year to experience that shared connection to the music and the commitment to the notion of something bigger than ourselves.
Beth, the Festival Director, says “From the very beginning, in 1997, with our first festival at SOSMP (Suwannee SpringFest), we set an intention of a community of love and healing and music and positive impact on the lives of the people who were there. And we attracted those people who needed that in their lives, and many of them are still coming. The Suwannee Spring Reunion is a new version of the events we began so long ago when music festivals were just starting to pop up again after Jerry’s passing. Springfest and Magfest had changed and evolved over the years and now we are gathering everyone together for the big reunion and revival of what commenced during those early years.”
“There’s this unique, communal spirit here, where it’s homelike for us,” says Sam Bush in an interview with Woodward, “And you find yourself thinking about some of our brethren that aren’t here anymore, but especially Vassar [Clements] — he ruled this place.”
“‘It was probably around 2004 [when we first played the park],” Steep Canyon Rangers singer-banjoist Graham Sharp tells Rolling Stone backstage at a recent Suwannee Spring Reunion, ‘We’ve been able to trace our band and its evolution through this festival, from being a traditional bluegrass band to being whatever the hell we are now — this place is a natural home for that.’”
They say the stars come out at night. And at Suwannee that is not only true in seeing the clear nighttime skies, but also throughout the park. Many of the festival musicians convene in the campgrounds when things light up at night. The Bill Monroe Shrine, hosted by Quartermoon, and Slopryland, hosted by Sloppy Joe, are open to all who bring their instrument and want to join in. In addition, there are literally dozens of camps, many of them with clever fun names, that have their own style and vibe.
The Suwannee Spring Reunion community has something going on around the clock. That said, if sleep is important to you, there are plenty of camping areas where it’s low key, so sleep is a possibility. No recorded or amplified music is permitted in the campground during this festival, so any music happening is live and acoustic.
The Jamwich’s Ashley Feller noted, “I love how these family camps have evolved over the years because now there are generations of people that have come to this festival. People have brought their kids, and these kids have grown up and made offshoots of those original camps. It is just so cool to see the creativity that goes into it. Some of it is like glamping. Some of them are just downright gorgeous.”
Beth expands on this in her interview with The Jamwich, “But the thing about the generations, grandparents have been the first people to come and bring their grandkids, and then the kids come, or it’s the kids and they bring their parents and then they bring their grandkids. The most I’ve seen is five generations. Five generations of families doing things together. And this is not just one family, this is in multiple cases. It’s a family reunion for people. It’s a family outing. It’s part of their life. They plan it, and that is community plus. That’s building relationships and making your life better. If you can do things with your family or chosen family, that can make your life happier and make the challenges that we all face during the year so much easier to face because you have this support and those people are there for you. The people who come to these festivals are the kindest, most open-hearted, loving people you will ever meet!.”
Jeff Mosier, who had been performing at spring and fall Americana/bluegrass events at SOSMP since nearly the beginning (in the early years with his band Blueground Undergrass), sums it up eloquently in an interview with Live and Listen (2019), “Live Oak is the balm. It heals me from missing Bruce [Hampton], missing Vassar [Clements]. It gives me a chance at 60 to keep it going as long as I can. So far, so good. That’s all you can do – keep writing, creating, doing interviews with folks like you and you doing your writing, that’s what life is – keeping the ball rolling… It’s a special place and it made a huge difference in my kids’ lives. They’re in their 20s, but they started going when they were babies. It taught them everything they needed to know without us having to teach them. It taught them how to be. They decided to be people like the people of Suwannee. And now they’re good people. My little boy used to say, ‘Why can’t the world be like Suwannee?!’. That’s really it. Why not? I think it can. I go there every year in hopes of keeping that going.”
Suwannee Spring Reunion (and its sister festival Suwannee Roots Revival which takes place in October) hold the space for a special couple of music-filled weekends to look forward to and back upon with laughter and love in your heart. Many of the artists look forward to returning each year just as much as the attendees! The atmosphere and the people that gather are uplifting and warmhearted—the perfect end caps to the long festival season.
Stay tuned for further news about the daily schedules and a wide range of hand-on workshops on the Music Farmers Stage, sponsored by the festival’s nonprofit arm, Live Oak Music and Arts Foundation (LOMAF). There will also be a raffle to raise money for LOMAF, which is earmarked for music and arts programs locally in North Florida schools.
One program that LOMAF helps fund is Suwannee Spirit Kids Music Camp which is a free three-day music weekend for kids ages 5-17, held three times a year, where students receive instruction a variety of instruments including but not limited to fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, harmonica, ukulele, vocals, and hand drums. There is a performance at each Spring Reunion and Roots Revival which often features kids that attend the Suwannee Spirit Kids Music Camp, along with plenty of other fun things for the little ones including an amazing kids zone set accessible back in the woods with crafts, games, face painting, and more!
Tickets are on sale now. Suwannee Spring Reunion offers a multi-day Weekend Ticket that includes festival admission for four days of music, as well as primitive camping on Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday nights. Military and Student discounts are available. Children 12 and under are free if accompanied by a parent or legal guardian. Get your tickets before they go up to the next pricing tier on January 14th. An additional event car pass is required to bring a car into the campground—Advance Car Pass: $15 or $20 at the Gate. For complete ticket information and to purchase tickets, visit www.suwanneespringreunion.com/Tickets/.
SOSMP offers guest comforts including a general store, full service restaurant, free showers, indoor bathrooms, and water stations. Upgraded camping, including RV hook ups and cabin rentals, as well as golf cart rentals are currently on sale. Reservations may be made by calling the Park office at (386) 364-1683. SOSMP is located between Jacksonville, Florida & Tallahassee, Florida about 30 minutes south of the Georgia State line, about 45 minutes north of Gainesville and is host to a variety of events. Please visit the park’s web site at www.musicliveshere.com for further information.
For more information, please visit www.suwanneespringreunion.com.
Suwannee Spring Reunion 2024 Lineup
Steep Canyon Rangers
Peter Rowan Walls of Time Band
Donna the Buffalo
Keller Williams’ PettyGrass ft. The HillBenders
The Steel Wheels
Jon Stickley Trio
Hattie & Joe Craven Trio
Jeff Mosier Ensemble
The Grass Is Dead
Roy Book Binder
Leon Timbo & The Family Band
Colby T Helms & The Virginia Creepers
Nikki Talley Band
Free Range Strange
John Mailander: Artist At Large
Magic Moon Traveling Circus
THE 6TH SUWANNEE SPRING REUNION
MARCH 21-21, 2024
THE SPIRIT OF SUWANNEE MUSIC PARK IN LIVE OAK, FLORIDA
Sam Bush – Railroad Earth – Steep Canyon Rangers
Peter Rowan Walls of Time Band – Donna the Buffalo
Keller Williams’ PettyGrass ft. The HillBenders
Bettye LaVette – The Steel Wheels – Town Mountain
Early Bird Tickets on sale now at → www.suwanneespringreunion.com
Phone: (386) 364-1683