From Legends to Locals, BayFest Brings a Musical Party to Downtown Mobile

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On a perfect fall weekend, The 20th Annual BayFest brought Kid Rock, Joan Jett, Earth Wind and Fire, Foster the People, Magic, Jane’s Addiction, Alabama, Kristy Lee, The Mulligan Brothers, and more to downtown Mobile on October 3-5. Stages, portolets, and food tents lined the streets and fences and barricades created a maze from Joachim to Water Street.
BayFest is Alabama’s biggest music festival, and the festival makes room on all stages for local musicians. Kristy Lee’s red bandanna hung on the mic stand on the AT&T Southern Ford Dealers stage and the audience raised their hands to “Raise the Dead.” Lee played her new song “Change” for the first time in public with her band Dirt Road Revival and Eric Erdman. Between songs, Kristy Lee talked about love and taking care of each other.
 #MyBESTHalf she has been building this house of music for so long…she’s got a story to tell…and to see her recognized by so many of her peers tonight was beautiful!
Missy Sebastian’s post to Instagram about Kristy Lee’s show at Bayfest.
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Friends, family, and fans cheered for The Mulligan Brothers as soon as they carried their instruments on the Coca-Cola stage for soundcheck. Facing the skyline of their home town, The Mulligan Brothers proved they belong on the big stage for any festival. They opened with “Louise” and mixed in songs from the album they finished recording a few weeks ago.
the mulligan brothers skyline
The Ben Jernigan Band with Chris Spies, John Milham and Christopher Spies brought groove and Hank Becker to the Coca-Cola Stage. Deluxe Trio’s “The King of Marvin Gardens” floated around a corner and down Royale Street, and Shawna P’s big voice boomed from two blocks away, but closer you could see her white dress flowing and the loving looks she gave guitar player and husband Adam Tyler Brown across the AT&T stage.
ben jernigan bayfest
Stage crews napped in ENO hammocks under stages after the drum sets were laid out deep and wide, ready for their turn. Set lists were taped down, followed, and then replaced by the list for the next act. Azalea Trail Maids listened to a young boy scream the chorus of “Beat It” during karaoke Bienville Square. Magic, who has one of the biggest songs of 2014, hung around after their set and were just fans in the crowd watching Earth Wind & Fire.
BayFest was also local dj’s introducing the bands and having fun with each other behind the stage and Uncle Henry rising like a rock star in the lights and fog to make annoucements on the AT&T stage.   A polite “Can you step to the side you are blocking my wife’s view?” led to a new friendship during Earth Wind and Fire, and paramedics made time to explain the winding route between stages.
It was festival planners enjoying music at each stage and an excitement for performances of local bands and the major acts, despite concerns about smaller crowds than they expected. It was volunteers who coordinated the hotel and travel for every musician that played at BayFest and adjusting when musicians changed plans at the last minute. It was $20,000 given in scholarships in partnership with Three Doors Down to reward 20 talented high school musicians. It was stage lighting, emotion, and energy of the music snapped and saved by photographers before it all faded away, the streets were cleaned, and planning begins for 2015.
Photos by Michelle Stancil
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