The Festy Experience w/ Ani DiFranco, Sam Bush, Drive-By Truckers, Cabinet & more!

by Chris Snyder

Photos by Steve Mack Photography

The Festy. It’s more than just another festival. It’s a full experience. Nestled in the mountains of Arrington, Virginia at The Infinity Downs Farm, The 8th annual Festy had a mix of music that offered fans of all ages an experience of a lifetime. The beauty of the festival is that it featured three stages: The Main Stage, Skyline Stage and eTown Stage.

Bluegrass virtuosos and hosts, The Infamous Stringdusters, brought along some of their close friends, Della Mae, Sierra Hull, Sam Bush Band, The Travelin McCourys and so much more musical talent.

Banjo master Danny Barnes and Nick Forster of Hot Rize led the attentive audience early on Thursday evening with some classic bluegrass numbers and originals tunes. The fans were loving every moment as Mr. Forester, who has a strong musical background, led the audience through the history of songs throughout the hour long set.

The first band to hit the Main Stage on day one was the electronic outfit Beats Antique. This is the beauty of The Festy: it has no boundaries. Beats Antique engaged the festival goers with their upbeat set, along with a special appearance by dancers to compliment the musicians. Their set was transcendent: sonically engulfing and aesthetically beautiful.

Later that evening The Infamous Stringdusters shined like the sun at high noon during their late night set on Thursday. All five members were firing on all cylinders with their solos along with their instrumental interplay. You could tell that the quintet were feeding off the high energy and vibes of the packed house inside the tent at The Skyline Stage. After a full day of music, The Festy was off to a grand start.

Friday kicked off with some local Virginia musicians, Erin Lunsford and Carl Anderson along with weekend emcee EmiSunshine. It was a pleasure to see talent from right in the backyard of Arrington with Ms. Lunsford and Mr. Anderson. The early afternoon attendees were grinning from each of their respective sets. You are sure to hear more in the future from both of these young performers.

And just like that, festival hosts The Infamous Stringdusters were back at it with their second set of the festival. And did they have a very special surprise in store on Friday, inviting their friend, legendary musician, Sam Bush, to join them onstage. The band took on classics like Petty’s “American Girl” and the traditional “Molly & Tenbrooks.” Again, this is what The Festy is all about: Musicians getting together and enjoying each other’s company. The mandolin/fiddle player, Sam Bush, along with his stellar band, brought the heat to The Festy Experience. You could that the group were really knew how to interlock with each other and bring their live performance to a whole new level.

The smiles and music were flowing early on as Phoebe Hunt and The Gathers brought a nice melodic, bluegrass sound to the festival grounds. Later on, Elephant Revival, hailing from Colorado, hit The Main Stage running with their blend of folk/rock and got the audience engaged and energized. The afternoon set was graced by Sunliner, led by Travis Book and Sarah Siskind. It’s a beautiful thing when a married couple can share the joy of music together. This is what the artists, proved in the Virginia sun on Saturday.

The Festy mixed all types of genres to their roster this year. One of the (many) stand out performances, was led by Ani DiFranco. You could tell that as the audience floated over to the stage, they were enjoying the roots/rock vibe that DiFranco and company were presenting. She took the fans down memory lane with a number of well known tunes as well some gems.

If you were looking for a good ole bluegrass throwdown. The Drive-By-Truckers, brought the rock up to 11 with their down-home southern grit. Led by Patterson Hood, the lights/setting/music was all perfect.

Look no further than some of the best “pickers” in the scene on Saturday evening with The Travelin’ McCourys. Their professional and attention to detail really showed as the moon was illuminated on the Virginia mountains. It was one of those sets where the instrumentalist took you on musical journey. Blissful. Stepping for Maggie Koerner, during the late night, was Della Mae. This became an all out jam sesh, with I believe at points about eighteen musicians on stage at once. Soaking in the atmosphere, and vibes, Della Mae along with their very special guests were the perfect way to send the crowd off, beaming from ear to ear into the Nelson County night.

Overall, this festival was one of the kind. From the moment, you hit the campgrounds you knew that were in for a magical experience. Magic will be filling the air for many years to come at The Festy.

Check out all the photos below!

Ani DiFranco

Beats Antique

Gallatin Canyon

Erin Lunsford

Elephant Revival

Drive-By Truckers

Della Mae


Billy Strings

Garretgrass Gosepl Hour


The Infamous Stringdusters

Jerry Douglas

Joan Osborne

Love Cannon


Nick Forster & Danny Barnes


Sam Bush


Shook Twins


Sierra Hull


The Travelin’ McCoury’s




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