Word of South Festival brings performers closer to their fans
By Samantha Joseph
The genre of music was so diverse that it would have been hard to tell if there was anyone in the crowd at Cascades Park that didn’t get their fill.
Music lovers in Tallahassee witnessed a potpourri of styles from a lineup of artists that included Grammy nominees, local and regional, that captivated their audiences.
They came together as part of the three-day Word of South Festival that also featured literature.
Children were included too, with a lineup of activities like storytelling, music and writing.
Every one of the performers made the stage their line of communication with their fans, interacting between songs. Lisa Loeb made the conversation between songs especially personal.
“I really liked her voice and she seemed like she was enjoying herself and interacting with the crowd very well so I enjoyed that,” said Anthony Haddad, who came out to the festival with a friend who is an aspiring musician.
Like Haddad, Julia Chodyla was seeing Loeb, a Grammy nominee, for the first time.
“I heard her song and I was like holy crap; it’s her because I didn’t understated it was her at first,” Chodyla said. “I was freaking out because she’s super duper, duper, duper famous and it’s just amazing that we have this opportunity.”
Attending the festival, which is in its third year, also was a first for Chodyla.
“I think it’s a great idea to bring all this culture and different literature and music together,” she said.
Later in the evening, the crowd met yet another favorite and first-time performer in seven-time Grammy nominee Joan Osborne. Her repertoire included covers of songs like “Rainy Day Women” and “High Water” by Bob Dylan, with whom she’s performed over the years.
Her loyal followers knew of her touch on Dylan’s songs, but for Michelle Sunset it was unexpected.
“I’m pleasantly surprised that this performer is doing Bob Dylan covers. I’m a big fan,” said Sunset, while taking in Osborne’s performance.
The event also was a showcase for emerging talent such as Banditos, a band that many including Rachel LaCroaix didn’t know of but enjoyed just as much as the big-name acts.
“It was fantastic, there were a lot of good bands and performers we have never heard of before,” LaCroaix said. “It introduced us to a lot of music and we really enjoyed learning a lot about the great music.”
The setting at Cascades brought the Banditos band back to its roots. On its way to becoming known nationally, the Alabama-based band made up of friends, spent its early years playing similar venues.
Just like it was back when the band was formed seven years ago, their performance at Cascades could help to bolster their fan base.
“Park shows are always a little different because people are there to see the different performers opposed to see you specifically,” said guitarist Jeffery Vines. “(It’s) good and bad because you get the new fans and the stoic people who just don’t know what to expect.”
Added Mary Beth Richardson, leader singer for the Banditos: “It feels wonderful,” she said. “It’s an expression that we don’t get from everyday life. Being on stage is like an alter ego where you don’t usually get to be a certain way and you can delve into a strong persona of yourself.
“It makes other people feel good and strong and it’s a connection you get with people you can’t get with a conversation most of the time.”