Strings and Sol 2023

Strings and Sol 2023: Music and Magic for the 11th Year

by Jan 4, 2024Featured, Music, Reviews

As many of you know, Festy GoNuts is pretty passionate about Strings & Sol Music Festival.  We have attended this incredible event 7 times, but we took a hiatus recently to focus on other musical adventures. (We’re looking at you, Camp Greensky Iceland and Baja Wondergrass).   Even though we weren’t there in person, we were there in spirit.

When we sent out our December e-newsletter about the then upcoming Festy Awards (SEE THE WINNERS!), we were so pleased to hear back from Tabitha Clancy.  She was happy to provide some personal commentary about her experience in December at the 11th Strings & Sol Music Festival in Puerto Morelos, Mexico.   We wanted to share with all of you, because we thought it just hit the right spots and made us smile.  So, without further ado…

There’s Still Plenty of Magic in Mexico After 11 Years of Strings and Sol

article and photos by Tabitha Clancy

Being that it was the 11th year in, the excitement no longer is the same, it’s not even an anniversary year, our rather spoiled and veteran selves approached Strings & Sol like it was no big deal (but it is).  My roommate and I didn’t even pack costumes or balcony decorations. We behaved almost as if we were the senior class that already experienced everything Strings & Sol has to offer. I don’t want to say we were elitists about it, but, we kind of were.

We were wrong. Dead wrong.

Strings & Sol 2023 exceeded every single expectation exponentially. There is something beyond magical that happens on that beach in Mexico that is intangible. Not a whole heck of a lot of changes occur over the years (nor do we want it to) – core bands, similar games, same resort, even the menu never changes AND, mostly, we are all relegated to the same room year over year – yet every year outdoes the previous year. It’s unexplainable and only something that can be experienced to be understood.

Strings and Sol 2023

Welcome Home, Solmates

There are, at least, two big factors intertwined to help make that magic happen. First and foremost, the people.  Solmates have become family. It’s a reunion of sorts. Secondly, and obviously equally important is the music.

Regardless of what fan group one belongs to whether they are Jamily or Kinfolk, a Hobo, a Camper, or a LOSer, or whatever else one may be, everyone is there for the absolute best musical creations of our lives happening on stage – and that is exactly what happens. 

One of the best parts of bluegrass and jambands is the fact that they can cover songs and make them their own, better, even. While all the bands dive into their catalogues, the expectation is that we will get sit-ins and covers.

This expectation is higher at Strings & Sol than at most other festivals and even the musicians expect it – they get to stretch out on something different, and we get a once-in-a-lifetime moment. Lindsay Lou, both because of her talent and hard work, and the vibe of this festival, elevated the musical journey, especially on the last late-night set of the fest.

Lindsay Lou’s Electric Revue was the pinnacle of the festival when someone from every band (mostly) rotated through a variety of hit songs over the years. Doing a set of all recognizable covers and rotating through a litany of artists bonded everyone in a way none of us have ever experienced before. While we were all sipping morning mimosas and flying down waterslides, not paying any attention to time, every artist slated for Lindsay Lou’s late night spent hours rehearsing ahead of this performance and is a profound example of their desire to add to our happiness, their professionalism, and dedication to us and the music we all love.

Strings and Sol 2023

The Bands Took it To 11 for Year 11

Every band, for each of their sets, hit the stage on all cylinders, so to speak. While WiFi and cell service are wonky on the beach, streaming live is not really possible, but the little updates that did get through sent the rest of the world into an excitable tissy wanting to know more!

We were in Mexico getting texts from all over the country!
Did Greensky actually cover Phish?
Did Sierra Hull sit in?
What was the setlist?
Did Del McCoury tell stories?
Did Railroad Earth cover Tom Petty?

The answer is YES to all of the above.

Speaking of Railroad Earth, they had a groove going so deep (main stage, night 4), that the entire crowd, and especially the first 5 rows, were getting down like it was club night at the local hot spot.

This year’s Strinsg & Sol was particularly special for both Railroad Earth and Hobos as these two sets were the last shows many would experience with Front-of-House Engineer Mike Partridge since announcing his retirement (his tenure ends 12/31/23). In an unprecedented surprise by Railroad Earth, in honor of Partridge, they performed one of his favorite songs, Tom Petty’s “It’s Good to Be King.” The band did not tell their own crew they would be doing this and even went so far as putting a different song on the set list, additionally, the lyrics were changed slightly to reflect Partridge’s personality.

There are so many facets to this one-of-a-kind festival, but one of the coolest things to see is that the band members are fans too. We have all become so comfortable with each other, that even the artists are among the crowd. Members of Greensky Bluegrass and Infamous Stringdusters could be found among the railriders for Railroad Earth, members of the Travelin’ McCourys could be found among the crowd during Leftover Salmon, and actually, vice versa.

The magic unfolds for them as much as it does for us, as it should.

Strings & Sol is an exceptionally intimate experience, and it’s one everyone should experience at least once…or twice…or eleven times.

Strings and Sol 2023

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