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5 Favorites: Virginia Key Grassroots Festival

Words by Anna Kimura

Nestled within the historic Virginia Key Beach Park, just a quick 15 minutes from the madness of downtown Miami, is the Grassroots Festival of Music and Dance, which was held this year on February 20th-23rd. Over the course of four days, this hidden gem of a festival featured over 40 bands, 4 stages, a beer garden and world café, workshops on everything from healing arts to zydeco dance, and a killer beach sunset every night.

We got a chance to participate in this years’ festivities, and these are our top 5 reasons why you NEED to check out Grassroots Festival next year.

1. First of all, we have to mention the lineup. Headliners included an eclectic mix of The Del McCoury Band, Donna and The Buffalo, MC Yogi, ChocQuibTown, John Brown’s Body and Toubab Krewe – just to name a few. The main acts played on the Meadow Stage, which was a giant field surrounded by vendors and art tents just steps from the beach.

2. If you’re lucky, you can catch a private bluegrass performance from Bruce Gootner, who owns Cigar Box Music. Bruce handcrafts electric guitars out of old cigar boxes, and they sound amazing. We were blown away when he pulled one off the rack, plugged it in and began playing the most beautiful slide guitar riffs. He told us that when he started his company it was 80% for art and 20% for music. Now, Cigar Box Music has evolved into 90% for music and 10% of art since the sound turned out so crisp and amazing. Musicians such as Adam Smirnoff of Lettuce, Beats Antique, The Allman Brothers and Two Man Gentleman Band all use his cigar box guitars on stage.

3. Grassroots is completely family friendly. The festival provides a number of culturally and artistically enriching activities for little ones, including a kids’ village that offers yoga and drumming workshops, craft time and story time. With the entire park available to festival-goers, there’s no shortage of space to frolic and play. We got caught up in several games of football and Frisbee during our walk around the festival grounds.

4. Did we mention this festival is held on the beach? You can open up your tent every morning and be greeted by waves lapping on the shore and a gorgeous sunrise. It’s perfect for those who want to cool off after a long day of dancing in the sun, or for when you get too worn out and just need a quiet hammock nap.

5. One of our favorite parts of the night was the Moksha Family Arts Collective stage. They tricked out an old schoolbus and turned it into a psychedelic playground, complete with lasers, projectors, live painting, and UV-painted fire spinners dancing on top of the bus. On Saturday we caught sets by Nag Champyons Psychedelic Jazz Practice, which included some top notch beat-boxing, and the incredibly theatrical, Telekinetic Walrus. At 11 p.m. every night, Moksha curated silent disco sets that went on until 2 a.m.

So to conclude: See you in Virginia Key next year!

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