Music Monday: a day at Aiken & Friends Music Fest!

As I write this, bundled up in my bed with my windows open, my pumpkin & marshmallow candle burning, and my Halloween socks on, I feel like fall is finally upon us here in Virginia. This past week turned out to be quite busy for me, and this coming week is going to be even busier, but though I am tired, I am grateful – grateful for my health, my freedom, and the ability to pursue what I love. I apologize for not getting my September ABSQ (monthly favorites) up this weekend, but keep an eye out – it should be posted by Friday at the latest!

Today on Music Monday, I wanted to do a recap of my day spent at Aiken & Friends Music Fest in Smithfield, Virginia!


Aiken & Friends Music Fest is an awesome gem of a music festival put on by Grammy-nominated Mike and Amy Aiken in Smithfield every year, celebrating country/bluegrass, Americana music, the beauty of songwriting, and the great community of musicians from all over the area. The proceeds from the festival go towards music education for kids, which is a cause very close to my heart. The weekend is filled with a variety of musical acts, workshops, food, and performances by Mike Aiken himself with his band! I got the privilege of receiving a free pass to day two of the festival because I participated in the songwriting competitions leading up to the festival, which selected the opening acts for Mike Aiken at the finale show on Saturday night.

Dad and I riding the ferry over to Smithfield!

We got to Smithfield early enough to stop by their farmer’s market, which was a treat. I ended up buying three new vinyls from the Deerfield Records tent (Glen Campbell’s Gentle On My Mind, Profile: Best of Emmylou Harris, and Joni Mitchell’s Ladies Of The Canyon), as well as a vintage tractor belt buckle that I am just dying to attach to a belt.


so excited about this – in all its gaudy glory

I was also really feeling my outfit – the weather was perfect, not too hot or cool, so my new denim skirt with cowboy boots was the perfect choice.



I sat in on the songwriting workshop Mike Aiken was leading, and it was very helpful to hear his methods of songwriting and ask him questions about discipline and other aspects of the craft. After that, my dad and I headed outside to the pickers tent, set up for  festival-attendees to get out their instruments and jam together. It’s really cool to watch because everyone is so genuine and friendly; it’s an awesome environment of sincere music-lovers that just want to share their passions. With some persuading, I got up the nerve to play a couple of songs, because as they say, life begins outside your comfort zone. I attached some videos below of me singing some of my originals with them – so much fun!




After the pickers tent, we (mainly me, lol) were starving. I ate my cole slaw-covered hot dog from the Q Daddy’s Pitmaster BBQ food truck so fast that I completely forgot to snap a picture, but take my word for it: delicious.

I missed some of the other acts on the outdoor stage, but we did catch a bit of Susan Greenbaum, a singer/songwriter out of Richmond, VA. I caught a video of her performing  “Galileo” – an Indigo Girls classic. She has such a beautiful, bright vocal tone – we really enjoyed!


By this time of day, I was starting to fade, so a coffee break was necessary. I strolled just up the road from the festival to visit Cure Coffeehouse, an adorable little joint. I wish I would’ve gotten more photos of the inside, but if you picture an all-white interior, exposed brick, with beautiful accents of greenery and wood, that’s the aesthetic that Cure fulfills. I ordered my go-to, an almond milk cappuccino, and it was quite possibly the best capp I’ve ever had – and trust me, I drink a lot of cappuccinos. There are locations in both Smithfield and Norfolk, so if you’re ever in the area, I recommend!




the beautiful sky I enjoyed as I walked back from Cure to the festival – the weather on this day was simply gorgeous

Now, it was time for the finale show in the Smithfield Little Theater. Aubrey Rayne West and Crimson Fox, the songwriting contest winners, opened up for Mike Aiken and his band. They were both fantastic!




Then, of course, Mike came out with his awesome band of musicians and brought the house down. Unfortunately, I didn’t end up getting more video due to lack of storage on my phone and battery life, but that just allowed for me to be even more in the moment and enjoy the music. My favorite songs are “Travelin’ Bone” and “Thick Black Water”.

sorry for the poor quality pics, but Mike and Amy Aiken!


I’m high-key in love with this guitar


I’m really thankful to have attended this event and been surrounded by such an incredible community of musicians, songwriters, and music-enthusiasts alike. There is such an aura of support and sincerity among the people I have met through this community, and it serves as such a great reminder that music can unite young and old, black and white, those with differences of opinion, and those who come from different places or situations to create one body of people with a passion and appreciation for music.

Thank you for reading, y’all. Again, stay tuned for a new ABSQ later this week!

Much love ❤

© Kate Stedelbauer and AbundantlyKate, 2017. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this site’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kate Stedelbauer and AbundantlyKate with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s