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Lyle as he was standing in the audience at the Wanee

vendors, along with many other headaches. For

Festival, also held in Live Oak. He partnered with a

instance, there is a real Bear Creek, near the originally

friend, Paul Levine, to create what would come to be

planned site of the festival, but Gadsden County

known as Bear Creek. Lyle and Paul founded a live

wouldn’t issue a permit for the event. “We were

event production company, Big IV Productions, which

crushed, but I knew the Spirit of the Suwannee Music

has gone on to launch numerous festivals, all held at

Park was there,” says Lyle. “Six weeks out, we moved

the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park.

the festival to Live Oak.”

Lyle’s musical horizons have expanded greatly since

Lyle has clearly done his homework when it comes

his early introduction to Zeppelin and Stevens, as

to live event production. All of Big IV’s festivals skip

illustrated by the eclectic range of music he helps

over mainstream pop acts, favoring instead what

bring to the stage. He tells me that, in addition to

Lyle calls “real music” – real musicians playing real

being his first festival venture, Bear Creek is the

instruments, for real fans, with real improvisations

most popular. Big IV is also responsible for two

and, occasionally, real mistakes. Lyle tells me that

other popular festivals held annually at the Spirit

fans – as well as bands – come from all over the

of the Suwannee Music Park: Suwannee Springfest

world to attend the festivals. The festivals’ successes,

and the Purple Hatter’s Ball. All of these events

he adds, are a testament to the changing dynamics

attract thousands of fans, and they do so by billing

of the music industry. Even as illegal peer-to-peer

some of the best live acts on the road today, while

downloading continues to make a substantial dent in

generally avoiding the costly big-name anchor acts

recorded music sales, live music gains popularity, with

that dominate other festivals. This is a formula that

many artists declaring that live performance is the

reflects Lyle’s own musical taste and has proven

only way to make money in music these days.

successful for Big IV. So, what’s next for Lyle Williams? He’s still a part It hasn’t always been clear sailing, though. I’ve always

of Big IV, handling the organization of the Florida

had the utmost appreciation for anyone who could

festivals online and over the phone from his new

succeed in an undertaking on the scale of a music

home in New Orleans. He tells me that he’s immersed

festival. See, I’m someone who is interested in the big

in promoting some smaller shows in his new city, even

ideas – those daunting challenges that only the most

as he plans the next Suwannee Springfest.

ardent, most vigorous and most inspired souls among us can make happen. As you might imagine, putting

Lyle Williams proves that, sometimes, it pays

a major music and arts festival together is hard

to think big.

work. Festival organizing comes with the logistical nightmares of scheduling bands, recruiting staff,


obtaining permits, selling tickets and incorporating


THOM Issue 2 - Spring 2014  
THOM Issue 2 - Spring 2014