Monday, February 8, 2010

Palatka Bluegrass Festival - Palatka, FL - Preview

The sixth annual Palatka Bluegrass Festival will run from Thursday, February 18th through Saturday, February 20th at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, a few miles south of Palatka, FL. Gates open for campers on Sunday, February 14th and numbered tickets for chair placement will be distributed on a first come first served basis beginning at 10:00 AM on Monday. Only one chair placement per ticket will be provided. Chair will be placed in numerical order beginning at 11:00 AM on Tuesday. This complex system has been developed and refined by promoters Norman Adams and Tony Anderson in order to provide as fair a system as possible while avoiding the unpleasant crush of seat seekers that has characterized previous events. Rodeheaver Boys Ranch Director of Development Jeff King tells me there are still about 50 water and electric sites remaining and lots of field space. “ We won't turn anyone away. We can get as creative as we need to get everyone water and electric. It is better if they go ahead and make a reservations, though,” Jeff writes. He also asks me to remind people that the performance tent is provided with wind curtains and heat, in case the weather gets cool, as it often does at Palatka. The Ranch also has plenty of tractors to assist rigs in moving should it be wet.

Bobby Osborne

The Gibson Brothers
In only six years, Palatka has emerged as the premier venue in Florida for high quality, big name bluegrass bands while Rodeheaver Boys Ranch has expanded to two offerings, February and October, using the bluegrass festivals as one of its major fund raisers. The Ranch, built on 790 acres donated by evangelist Homer Rodeheaver serves as home for about fifty boys living in five cottages scattered around the campus under the supervision of cottage parents. The boys are chosen because for one reason or another their parents are unable to care for them. The supportive, caring environment fostered by the Ranch is reflected in the festival through the interaction of attendees once the school week is over and the boys are in evidence around the campus, both helping and enjoying the scene. Even if it weren't for the festivals, Rodeheaver Boys Ranch would be a worthy cause to support.

The Shed Before Seats are Placed
Waiting in Line to Place Seats

Jamie Dailey (Dailey and Vincent)

Darin Vincent (Dailey and Vincent)

J.D. Crowe
Promoters Adams & Anderson currently put on nine bluegrass festivals in the southeastern U.S., from West Virginia to Florida. Their events are characterized by focusing on bluegrass acts from the top tier of available talent seasoned with lots of old time gospel music. The lineup for Palatka Bluegrass Festival is below. It is too packed with quality and variety to highlight all the talent. Suffice it to say the range of music runs from very traditional bluegrass (David Peterson & 1946, The Bluegrass Brothers, Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top Express) through high concept shows (Dailey & Vincent, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Dry Branch Fire Squad) to more contemporary bluegrass sounds (The Gibson Brothers, The Steeledrivers, Carrie Hassler). Greats from the first and second generations of bluegrass performance like J.D. Crowe and Bobby Osborne are always present and the links to Bill Monroe and the origins of bluegrass music are always clear. An Adams and Anderson lineup is always balanced, calculated to appeal to a broad spectrum of people who love the range of bluegrass music and designed to allow people to make choices about who they hear and when they come to the tent.

The Steep Canyon Rangers

Doyle Lawson
Thursday, February 18th 
The Tennessee Gentlemen - 12:00 Noon and 5:15 pm.
The Crowe Brothers - 12:45 pm. and 6:00 pm.
The Gary Waldrep Band - 1:30 pm and 6:45 pm
David Peterson & 1946 - 2:15 pm and 7:30 pm
Dailey & Vincent - 3:00 pm and 8:15 pm
Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain - 3:45 pm and 9:00 pm

Carrie Hassler
Friday, February 19th
Goldwing Express - 12:00 Noon and 5:20 pm
The Bluegrass Brothers - 12:50 pm and 6:10 pm
The Steep Canyon Rangers - 1:40 pm and 7:05 pm
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - 2:30 pm and 8:00 pm
J. D. Crowe & The New South - 3:30 pm and 9:00 pm

The Crowe Brothers
Saturday, February 20th
 Phillip Steinmetz & His Sunny Tennesseans - 12:00 Noon and 5:15 pm
Dry Branch Fire Squad - 12:45 pm and 6:00 pm
Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top X-press - 1:30 pm and 6:45 pm
The Travelin McCourys - 2:15 pm and 7:30 pm
The Gibson Brothers  - 3:00 pm and 8:15 pm
The Steel Drivers - 3:45 pm and 9:00 pm

Ron Thomason (Dry Branch Fire Squad)
Gary Waldrep

Daily Breakfast Buffet in Ranch Dining Room
Several bands at this year's Palatka festival are new to me. I've never hear Philip Steinmetz & His Sunny Tennesseans (Saturday) or The Tennessee Gentlemen (Thursday), and am looking forward to them. The Travelin McCourys represent a change in personnel, but probably will be able easily to sustain the level of quality the Del McCoury Band has established over the years while not making such extensive demands on Dad as he takes some time to rest a bit. When they performed in Oregon yesterday, Cody Kilby was on hand at guitar, adding one of the best flat pickers in bluegrass to the mix. The Gibson Brothers, with their new CD Ring the Bell and its title song having topped the Bluegrass unlimited charts for three straight months will be on hand on Saturday. Dailey and Vincent, an award machine at both IBMA and SPBGMA over the past couple of years will be headlining on Thursday. The humor and raw power of Dry Branch Fire Squad will help brighten Sunday, regardless of the weather. While tastes may differ, there are no real holes in this year's Palatka Bluegrass Festival Lineup. 

Tammy Rogers and Chris Stapleton (The SteelDrivers)
Sherry Boyd (emcee)

Audience Outside Shed on a Sunny Day
Tickets for Palatka can be bought at the gate for $85.00 for the weekend or $35.00 per day. Unlike some festivals, which get off the ground slowly on Thursday and grind down slowly on Sunday, Palatka hits the ground running at noon on Thursday and presents a value packed lineup for three straight days.
The festival can be found here:

Palatka is always one of the highlights of our festival year. Make it one of yours, too.

Promoter Norman Adams