FloydFest crowd scene

Thursday afternoon fairway action at FloydFest.

Brandi Carlile has become a star since the last time she played FloydFest. Her resume has grown by three Grammy Awards this year, among other highlights in a steadily growing career.

FloydFest regulars know she was a star already, she just hadn’t been spotted by the pop culture telescope. On her fourth main stage appearance up on the mountain, she returned the love to a massive crowd.

Describing her ride onto the grounds of FloydFest 19 Voyage Home, she said “I was driving into the best vibes. I love this place.”

She performed songs she had done here before, including “Raise Hell” and “Evangeline,” that latter about her first daughter. She covered Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You” and Elton John’s “Madman Across the Water,” her string trio bringing deep emotion to it.

And she sang the new ones, including “Fulton County Jail” and Grammy Awards show-stunner “The Joke.” She told the audience that she wanted to hear the lyrics coming back at her. “I need to hear this sometimes as much as I need to sing it.”

But she didn’t lay off, to let the audience take over. Her intensely powerful vocal was as chill-inducing to the crowd at FloydFest as it was to the international audience that heard it at the Grammys.

Her band, featuring musical partners, and identical twins, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, and recently added drummer Chris Powell (an absolute powerhouse), made the music as emotionally fulfilling as Carlile’s singing and lyrical content.

Phil Lesh & The Terrapin Family Band followed that set with their own at the Hill Holler stage. In front of one of the largest crowds you’ll find at that spot, they played classics from Lesh’s old band, The Grateful Dead, including “Casey Jones,” then moved into Bob Dylan’s “Tangled Up In Blue.” It was a quality band, with Lesh’s idiosyncratic but catchy bass work still working at a high level.

By the time they started “Till The Morning Comes,” this reporter thought that a grilled cheese sandwich would complete the experience. A new grilled cheese stand is among this year’s food vendor additions. A grilled pimiento cheese and bacon sammich accompanied some “Terrapin Station” action.

The Motet preceded Lesh’s band at Hill Holler, delivering some deeply funky, vintage-style vibes. That’s a band worth catching live, for sure.

Contact Tad Dickens at tad.dickens@roanoke.com or 777-6474. Follow him on Twitter: @cutnscratch.  


For the past decade, Tad Dickens has been writing about music. For now, it remains sunshine and rainbows.

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