As I sat down to write about Albino Skunk Festival’s Spring Skunk 2019, I found myself scrolling through the posters of festival’s past. This walk down memory lane reminded me that I have been going to Skunk Fest since 2007 or 2008 and have seen more great live music there than some people see in a lifetime. There is a reason why the festival dubs itself “The Greatest Show on Dirt” as there are few other opportunities to see such quality music all in one place twice a year.
The posters remind me that over the years I have seen The Gourds, Elizabeth Cook, Steep Canyon Rangers, Larry Keel, Seven Handle Circus (in multiple costumes), Darrell Scott, the late great Colonel Bruce Hampton, Lake Street Dive, Billy Strings, Lydia Loveless, Dustbowl Revival, Nikki Lane, New Riders of the Purple Sage, and dozens of other bands that would warrant an evening out any night of the year. I was familiar with a lot of Skunk Fest artists before they took the stage while others were just a name on the poster until they came out and seemingly took over the festival. With 17 artists taking the stage at this year’s Spring Skunk, that promises to be the case once again as promoter Glynn Zeigler has an ear for emerging talent that is unparalleled.
Regretfully, family obligations will keep me from attending this year’s Spring Skunk but, ever the masochist, I felt the need to really learn what I would be missing. I called Zig just as he was wrapping up a day on the farm and he launched into a rundown of all the best things that I would not be seeing this year.
War and Treaty, who brought the house down at last year’s Spring Skunk, was the first band he mentioned as he told me that they are coming back even bigger than before with a nine person band and a full horn section. “It’s like a full on revival when they’re on stage,” he says of the energy that the band brings to the farm.
“So that’s the one people shouldn’t miss, then?” I asked him.
“Well, that’s the Saturday headliner and band that people will remember from last year but the ‘Holy shit, who are these guys?’ band is the Ruen Brothers.” He describes them as having a vintage rock sound reminiscent of the Everly Brothers and Roy Orbison – comparisons not to be taken lightly. The British duo is quickly making themselves known on the American scene, recording with the likes of Rick Rubin and performing at Coachella, so this weekend is a prime time to see them in person while you still can.
Ida Mae, another British duo, “sounds like some Mississippi blues but from a husband and wife from England” he tells me before raving about Lula Wiles, Dangermuffin, and other names on the lineup. He also notes that Acoustic Syndicate is returning to the farm after “I don’t know how many years” but that they are celebrating their 25th anniversary as a band just as Skunk Fest celebrates the same anniversary as an organized festival. He also refers to Jim Lauderdale as a “bucket list guy” and anyone familiar with his catalog and talent will be hard pressed to disagree.
All of this happens over three days on a farm in Greer, complete with camping, a kids area, local and touring food vendors, a beer garden, and almost 20 artisan vendors. The Community Tap provides the beer and wine selection while local favorites Upcountry Provisions and touring foodies Firehouse Crabballs and Tica’s Taco are just a few of the folks serving up the best festival food you will find anywhere.
For those who like to start off their days in active fashion, Saturday morning at the Skunk Farm kicks off with de Tour de Skunk, a charity bike ride for a local cause. This year’s rides (a 15 or 35 miler) will raise money to benefit James Schlender of Songs from the Road Band to aid in his recovery from open heart surgery. Past rides have gone to help other local and regional artists in times of need, as well as the family of Officer Allen Jacobs who was killed in the line of duty in 2016. In total the event has raised over $10,000 for these noble causes, all while providing a scenic tour of some great Upstate landmarks.
Whether you go out to enjoy a couple of artists on one of the evenings or pack the tent or camper and immerse yourself in the whole three day experience, Skunk Fest is not to be missed (unless you are lame and going out of town like me). To go to Skunk Fest is to fall in love with it and, if you haven’t yet, there is no time like the present to make that happen. FES-TAA-FUUUUL!