In early February, Virginia Key Beach Park will host the inaugural GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance, a four-day camp out with headliners Chaka Khan, Arrested Development, Fishbone, and the Del McCoury Band. The festival has flown under the radar to date, which is hard to explain given the winning combination of affordable ticket prices, the allure of camping out in a beautiful waterside setting, and the strong mix of headliners and South Florida acts.
Besides the headliners, notable local acts include …
Besides the headliners, notable local acts include Raffa & Rainer, ArtOfficial (whose “Black Birds” was one of the Top 50 SoFla Songs of 2011), Elastic Bond, Big Brass Juke, The Heavy Pets, and DJ Bill Kelly, the co-founder and director of the Winter Music Conference. As for worthwhile out-of-towners, there’s Puerto Rican rapper Immortal Technique, Tennessee’s big band jazz quartet Christabel and the Jons, Senegalese singer and koda master Diali Keba Cissokho, and New York Cajun rockers Donna the Buffalo, among many others.
While music festivals in South Florida not named Ultra have struggled to find success (remember Langerado? still trying to forget the Miami Music Festival?), the GrassRoots Festival may stand a chance. The folks running the non-profit organization are veterans in the festival game, having organized similar events in Finger Lakes, N.Y., and Shakori Hills, N.C., for more than 20 years.
And Virginia Key seems like a sweet spot for a music festival. An 82-acre barrier island, the once “Blacks Only” park is listed in the National Register of Historic Places for “its role in the history of civil rights in Miami.” It is also home to Jimbo’s Place, that lawless outpost for cheap beer and smoked fish, and boasts a network of volunteer-built mountain bike trails.
The upcoming GrassRoots festival offers a variety of ticket options, including individual daily passes ($30-$35) and four-day passes ($100-$120). Then there’s the Carpool Package ($440), which supplies four festival passes, a vehicle pass, and two tents. If you’ve got your Commitment Pants on, you can purchase The Silverlined deal ($1,000), which grants you access to the festival for 10 years plus five tickets to other GrassRoots festivals.
To learn more about the festival, which runs from Feb. 9 to Feb. 12, visit the GrassRoots Festival of Music and Dance website.