Suwannee's 20th Annual Springfest
Brandi Carlile & the Twins
Brandi Carlile isn't someone you can force on people. You can't come on too strong and scare them away. You have to let them discover her on their own, in their own time and at their own pace.
You see for me, Brandi was the deep end of a musical ocean with no bottom. I kept searching for sand or rocks or anything that would show me I've found the end and nothing else could surprise me. What I didn't know was that first song I heard of hers—a tip of my toe to test the waters if you will—made me not care how cold or deep that ocean was, I just dove right in.
Not everyone is at that level as a music fan. I am not even at that level of total consumption with all the artists whom I adore. That though, is the incredible thing about a music festival; especially an intimate one such as Springfest. Let me also take a moment to congratulate the people behind the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park and everyone involved for a spectacular twentieth! Getting back to Brandi, Springfest's crowd brought people from all ends of the Carlile spectrum to that ampitheatre: the first timers, the "Story" people, the die hards that know her daughters name, to the people who absolutely love all kinds of music but maybe just wanted a good seat for Railroad Earth—and no offense to anyone who is in any stage of a Brandi Carlile experience! But that, I have realized, is what it takes to turn a person onto this kind of brilliance and storytelling and songwriting.
You can't make people listen. They have to BE there. They have to see her and the twins just come alive on stage. They have to see them connect together, and smile and laugh and tell stories. I've never seen three happier people on a stage. It's these moments too I love most, seeing people's faces turn the moment they've realized they can never go back to not knowing. The next show they're going to know all the words.
A few songs into their set Brandi already won over the crowd by complimenting the magical woods that is the Spirit of the Suwannee. By their next slow tune, as I was standing stage right looking at their backs and into the crowd, I heard someone crying behind me. I turned around and this girl just looks at me and said, "I just can't stop now that I've started." Now there could have been several reasons why she was crying, but I just looked at her and I said, "I know."
By this point she'd made mention of her embarrassing story of being "John Prine'D" (can we please make that a thing?) once and that she was sad they'd be leaving in the morning to head home. Essentially, my near frenzied excitement at the thought of Brandi joining John on stage the following evening was shot down. The moment had come where I had already taken my photos and decided to head out into the crowd and really get into the show. It's a fine line, being a photographer and a fan.
I nestled my way as close to the front as possible, all the while keeping my camera on just in case. With me came an unsuspecting victim whom I preceded to tell repeatedly backstage, "You HAVE to see her!" I felt slightly bad until I saw how quickly he'd concluded perhaps I didn't oversell the power of their performance.
One of the things that Brandi crafts so well into her songs is storytelling, and every time I've ever seen her she has a new hilarious story to tell us. She's so personal, it's as if she's talking to a bunch of lifelong friends. I haven't found it online just yet, but even though she claimed to be self-conscious about her speaking voice, I really hope someone captured that "Mamaaaaaah!!" story. In short, her wife is the soft spoken one and Brandi is obviously the loud mouth of the family. She was explaining that her daughter has now learned to get their attention in different ways which ends up with a soft "Momma" and then pointedly at Brandi, "Mamaaaaaaah!"
The remainder of the show was nothing short of perfect, and I'd like to apologize now to anyone who was within earshot of me singing along like a mad person. I just really do love her music. One of my favorite moments in the crowd was when it came to the trio covering the Avett Brother's "Murder in the City" and I was next to a group of people and we just shouted and sang the line at the end, "Always remember there is nothing worth sharing like the love that lets us share our name."
Many people have asked me why I love music in the complex way that I do, and the best way that I can explain it is this: we all have our outlets, some people run, some people go to therapy, and I listen to music with lyrics that heal me in whatever way I feel broken at that moment in time. Some types of music is only good for sadness, or heartbreak, or roadtrip joy. Brandi Carlile for me, is there through it all. I have had several friends recently thank me for turning them onto Brandi and the Twin's music, and I hope by my sharing this Springfest experience with you, maybe she will have a few more new fans.
So thank you for reading this and until next time,
"These stories don't mean anything when you've got no one to tell them to, it's true..."
Upcoming full Springfest gallery will be on my site very soon!
and RAISE HELL