By Matt Wickstrom
Lexington’s own brand of mountain music will echo through the Blue Ridge Mountains from July 27 to July 31 at FloydFest, as up-and-coming group Moonshine District got the call to perform at arguably Virginia’s most prestigious music festival alongside of some of America’s most legendary musical minds.
Moonshine District multi-instrumentalist Katie Didit said the opportunity presented itself after “a lot of hope and a lot of luck.”
“My stepdad (Paul Kuczko) has helped (FloydFest) do volunteer work for around the last ten years,” Didit said. “Every year he usually gives (the festival board) two bands to check out. We were one of the bands he recommended for this year, and luckily they took the bait.”
The band is comprised of Didit on fiddle and banjo, Maggie Noelle on guitar, Mike O’Malley on guitar, Eric Smith on washtub bass and Jared Hamilton on mandolin. Moonshine District will have no shortage of opportunities to make an impression on fans and others at FloydFest, performing four sets throughout the weekend.
The quintet’s first two performances both occur on Wednesday, the first from 5:45 to 6:45 p.m. on the festival’s Speakeasy Stage and the later from 7:45 to 9:00 p.m. on the V.I.P. Stage. The group’s final two performances are on Sunday, the first being an early-riser from 10:15 to 11:00 a.m. on the V.I.P. Stage, and the conclusive performance likely being during sunset, from 8:15 to 9:00 p.m. on the Ferrum Workshop Porch.
According to Didit, Moonshine District plans on debuting new material at FloydFest, adding that the band’s evolution from their first record to now with the recent addition of O’Malley is night and day. The group has tentative plans to record a new album beginning in early 2017.
While Moonshine District isn’t busy performing, Didit has several bands and artists she’s thrilled to see, including Gregg Allman, Elephant Revival, Nahko and Medicine for the People, and Railroad Earth. Having attended FloydFest as a fan for several years, this will be the first time Didit has performed at the prestigious Virginia festival, getting to experience the festival in an entirely new light.
“I always get confused about the whole ‘big break’ thing,” Didit said. “What does it really mean to make it? As long as music is your livelihood ,you’re making it.”
Also performing throughout the weekend at Floydfest are Warren Haynes Ashes & Dust, Leftover Salmon, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Keller Williams, Shakey Graves and others. In total, the festival features nine stages rotating with constant music, so there’s always something going on, whether it be americana, rock’n’roll, folk or bluegrass.
The scenic foothills of the mountains engulfing Floydfest’s grounds offer up many other unique adventuring opportunities. Activities range from tubing, kayak and canoe rentals, to strenuous sightseeing mountain bike excursions. All activities come with an extra charge. There will also be several healing arts areas set-up around the festival, including yoga, meditation, massages, hoop dancing and more.
Five-day festival passes with tent camping are currently $300, with four-day and three-day with tent passes running $280 and $260, with all prices increasing $25-30 at the gate. Individual day passes are also available for $100 each if you’re only looking to catch a slice of the weekend’s action. To purchase tickets, view the entire lineup, schedule of events, and more visit floydfest.com.