Monday, September 25, 2023

Pandemic Playlist VIII: Ghosts of SunFest Past

Normally, at around this time next week, South Floridians are bracing themselves for the return of SunFest, historically Palm Beach County’s biggest annual tourism driver, and our unofficial signpost for the beginning of another long, hot summer. Of course, there will not be a SunFest this year, with organizers making the prudent choice to refrain from hosting a super-spreader event just when the COVID numbers are ticking in a positive direction.

This too shall pass, but until it does, I thought it would be time to revisit the festival’s longtime bona fides in my latest Pandemic Playlist. Critical as I was of the aborted 2020 lineup, SunFest has enjoyed some 20 years of booking some of the most important names in music through its trademark peripatetic approach to genre. This playlist is a curated sample of 23 of its brightest musical luminaries from 2000 to 2019.

One melancholic side note: We lost three of these artists last year alone, two from COVID: Toots Hibbard of Toots & the Maytals, Adam Schlesinger of Fountains of Wayne, and Charlie Daniels.

Wilco, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart

Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, Turn Off the News (Build a Garden)

Garbage, Thirteen

The Joy Formidable, Maw Maw Song

Bastille, Things We Lost in the Fire

Fiona Apple, Under the Table

Jimmy Cliff, You Can Get It If You Really Want

Toots and the Maytals, Funky Kingston

Funkadelic, Free Your Mind

James Brown, Say it Loud, I’m Black and Proud

Isaac Hayes, Hyperbolicsyllabicsesquedalymistic

Herbie Hancock, Rain Dance

Kendrick Lamar, The Blacker the Berry

Nas, Represent

The Roots, Rolling With Heat

Pixies, The Happening

Wavves, Poor Lenore

Weezer, The Good Life

B-52s, Throw That Beat in the Garbage Can

Fountains of Wayne, Bright Future in Sales

Cake, Comfort Eagle

Charlie Daniels Band, Uneasy Rider

Bob Dylan, Shelter From the Storm

See below for a full Spotify playlist of these songs.

John Thomason
John Thomason
As the A&E editor of, I offer reviews, previews, interviews, news reports and musings on all things arty and entertainment-y in Palm Beach, Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

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