Tortuga Music Festival 2017

I decided to be the person least knowledgeable about country music attending the Tortuga Music Festival, a short walk from our Ft. Lauderdale rental. What did I learn?

  • You don’t have to have white skin to enjoy country music. In fact, roughly half of the exposed skin that I saw was blue, red, green, or whatever other color a tattoo artist had decided to impart. (see my photos)
  • If you’re truly passionate about helping sea turtles, one way to do it is put up a mile-wide fence to block them from getting up on the beach during nesting season.

Here were the musicians that I saw…

  • Delta Rae. A lot of energy from all six members. The crowd seemed to like their Fleetwood Mac cover the best. Many references to “strong and independent women” (it was unclear how many audience members had found financial independence through “permanent alimony” under Florida family law, but in any case the crowd cheered)
  • G. Love and Special Sauce. A virtuoso instrumentalist who ably disguises his Northeast roots when singing.
  • Kane Brown, a fit 23-year-old with more tattoos than any audience member(!). He has adapted country music to America’s Victimhood Culture. He performed a rap-ish song (“Learning”) about being nearly beaten to death as a 6-year-old by one of his “stepdads” and then about how the successor stepdad was nicer, but he was “Getting looked down on just because of your skin” (unspecified as to what skin color would have made people look up to him and his family). The theme of the song was about how he was “gonna let it go” and was “learning how to let it go,” but if you write a song about something and continuously perform it can be out there offering advice to others on how to let things go?
  • the Marcus King Band. I just loved this guy. He is 21 years old and answers the question “What if Sam Kinison could play the guitar amazingly well?” He and G. Love jammed together. Their love for the blues was evident.
  • Luke Bryan. He talked about being done with work for the month (it was April 7), enjoying having a #1 record, and drinking shots of Tequila (?) up on stage (the audience was enthusiastic on this last point). I’m ashamed to admit this, but I can’t figure out what is different about this guy from any other modern country star. Nor can I remember what he sounded like.

Tips: Don’t pay up for “Reef” or “VIP” status unless you enjoy extremely loud music and having your organs rearranged by the bass. Most of the festival happens on the sand footwear should be limited to sandals or you may look like a dork from up north…

Transgender situation: Bathroom facilities were divided into “men” and “women” with no “all-gender” options.

Hotel idea: Marriott Harbor Beach, which is near the southern end of the festival. This is about a 10-minute walk from the non-VIP entrance/exit, which means that there are slightly more convenient hotels. However, the Marriott is in a quieter part of the beach and has some great amenities, such as clay tennis courts and a great teacher (Jack Cooper, USPTA). The Marriott is right at the edge of where the traffic gets snarled so you will be able to get out to the rest of Florida during the festival if desired.



  1. Mark

    April 16, 2017 @ 4:41 pm


    I’ve known and read your blog a long time, and I never thought I’d call you a hillbilly. But if you attended that garbage…well, you know.

  2. jack crossfire

    April 16, 2017 @ 8:37 pm


    Quite a different retirement than my parents, who just wanted to escape the workforce but can’t afford to do anything but sleep.

  3. James

    April 17, 2017 @ 1:06 am


    Luke Bryan is kind of like country music’s answer to Cyndi Lauper. Lauper was in her 30s but had the stage persona of a teenage girl; Bryan is 40 but most of his songs are about young love and partying on spring break. But I agree with you, apart from being older than most country stars, there isn’t much to distinguish him from any of the others.

  4. GermanL

    April 17, 2017 @ 5:44 am


    I’m not a big fan of country music, other than a few hits. But I do love Jimmy Buffet, who used to be a country music singer btw. Jimmy Buffet music and Florida go well together.

  5. GermanL

    April 17, 2017 @ 5:49 am


    btw, I imagine this crowd was not your typical Harvard square types. More Trump supporters, right? Any interesting conversations?

  6. philg

    April 17, 2017 @ 8:38 pm


    German: Of course I did meet a fair number of Trump voters in Florida, but they don’t seem preoccupied with politics in the way that my Clintonista friends are. That Trump hasn’t accomplished anything doesn’t bother them too much because they don’t expect anything positive to come out of Washington, D.C. They’re just happy that the flow rate of negative stuff (from their point of view) has been reduced.

    One Ft. Lauderdale resident said that Broward County was one of only two in South Florida where “whites were still a majority.” He considered that a plus. Was he prejudiced? “I don’t have anything against Latin Americans, but if I wanted to live with Colombians I could have just moved to Colombia.”

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