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Music festival to hit Live Oak next week

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Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2011 12:02 am

Locals tired of tapping their toes for spring don’t have to wait any longer: Suwannee Springfest is here.

The 15th annual music and nature festival will take place March 24 to 27 at The Spirit of the Suwannee  Music Park in Live Oak, one hour north of Gainesville.

Students can purchase discounted weekend tickets in advance for $110 with a current student ID, and student tickets are $150 at the gate.

Springfest features Americana, folk and bluegrass music. This year’s lineup consists of The Avett Brothers, the David Grisman Sextet, Jesse McReynolds, Donna the Buffalo and 54 other performers.

People gather to celebrate not only the music, but also to celebrate each other and life, said Paul Levine, one of the event’s organizers and promoters.

“People have been coming for 15 years. A lot of them have met here, got married, had kids and started bringing their kids to Springfest,” he said.

The festival draws about 5,000 to 6,000 people each year.

Ori Blitstein, a Grooveshark marketing intern and a music festival junkie, said attendees don’t just consist of college kids who want to party. Rather, several are locals dedicated to the music, he said.

Also, he said it’s better called a gathering than a music festival.

“It’s guys with guitars and washers and brushes just having a grand ole time on the river,” he said. “You’re camping and it happens to be a music festival.”

The park, located next to the historic Suwannee River, has more than 800 acres of campsites.

“It would be foolish and a waste of time not to go,” he said.

Levine said just because families attend doesn’t mean people aren’t having a great time and celebrating. People celebrate with respect.

He said some go to Bonnaroo because about 100,000 people attend. But, he said, the experience at a bluegrass festival is different — and in a good way.

“Some of the best music you hear is by the campfire,” he said.

Furthermore, what could set Springfest apart from other festivals is that half of the audience brings musical instruments. By creating an inclusive environment conducive to learning, Levine said, Springfest provides attendees an experience unavailable at other shows.

       The festival also supports regional music by allowing local musicians to perform at the park.

“The amphitheater stage is one of the finest places to see music in the world,” Levine said.

The stage is at the bottom of the natural bowl of the amphitheater, and beautiful oak trees with Spanish moss provide a canopy over the audience.

“With hundreds of people swinging on hammocks between trees watching music, it’s a pretty groovy environment,” he said. “You’ve got to see it.”

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