Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Florida State Bluegrass Festival - Perry Florida - April 1 -3, 2010

The 8th annual  Florida State Bluegrass Festival begins on Thursday afternoon, April 1 and runs for three days at the Forest Capital Museum State Park in Perry, Florida. Sponsored by the Perry-Taylor County Chamber of Commerce, this festival is one of the great bargains in bluegrass music, offering an array of first class national and regional bands for a three day ticket price in advance of $10.00 or $15.00 at the gate.  The lineup for this year's festival ranges from the relatively far-out progressive band Cadillac Sky to the bluegrass/country sounds of Marty Raybon, and the more traditional music of Kenny & Amanda Smith.  Regional bands like The Wilson Family and Pure & Simple Bluegrass explore more traditional terrain.  This event, set in a pleasant, shaded area with one of the most beautiful stages to be found anywhere should provide a great three days of bluegrass music.

Cadillac Sky
Bryan Simpson

Cadillac Sky has established itself as one of the most innovative and progressive bands in bluegrass music. With the release of its new CD "Letters from the Deep" scheduled for this summer, it declares itself to have moved from traditional bluegrass to being "a band without boundaries."  Since it's earlier incarnation has lived within few musical boundaries, it will be truly interesting to see where this exciting band is going.  While I haven't seen C-Sky since guitarist David Mayfield joined them, his performances have been said to push the envelope quite far.  The band has been distinguished by its innovation, musicianship, and song-writing.  I'm eager to see their newest work.

Matt Menafee
Ross Holmes
Andy (Panda) Moritz
Kenny & Amanda Smith
The Kenny & Amanda Smith Band offers one of the purest voices and one of the finest flat-picking guitarists to be found anywhere.  Perhaps the story of their first date, which apparently started somewhat awkwardly, but took off as soon as they began to pick and sing together, tells the tale of their partnership.  The band showcases these two fine talents with strong supporting musicians and a tasteful blend of deeply felt gospel bluegrass and fine musicianship.

Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike
Valerie Smith & Liberty Park are familiar to Florida audiences, but they never lose their appeal as they combine excellent musical presentation with high levels of showmanship.  Valerie's background in musical theater combines with Becky Buller's instrumental versatility and song writing to offer a variety of bluegrass and Americana.  The recent addition of Rebekah Long on bass continues to enrich the band as she becomes increasingly comfortable with this band.  Ernie Evans, former President of the North Florida Bluegrass Association, is a multi-instrumentalist and able vocalist who plays an important role in the presentation of this band that always gives high energy, exciting performances. VSLP will perform at Perry on all three days.

Becky Buller & Valerie Smith
 Rebekah Long

Ernie Evans

Marty Raybon & Full Circle
 Marty Raybon & Full Circle comes to Perry with a record of popularity in both bluegrass and country music. As leader of the country band Shenandoah, Raybon charted the Billboard Hot Country list with 22 hit singles.  A native Floridian, Raybon has recently returned to his first love, bluegrass.  Supported by a very strong band  the lively mandolin and fiddle virtuoso Chris Davis and Daniel Grindstaff on banjo, his band will highlight Friday's lineup.

 Marty Raybon

 Chris Davis

Daniel Grindstaff

Featured in the remainder of the lineup will be two extremely able and enjoyable regional bands, The Wilson Family Band from Folkston, GA and Pure & Simple from Dothan, AL.  Each brings experience, high level entertainment, and first rate music to any festival where they appear. 

Pure & Simple Bluegrass
Pure & Simple Bluegrass brings an eclectic variety of traditional first and second generation bluegrass accompanied by some grassed versions of familiar rock music as well as songs from other genres. The band's spokesman and dobro player, Travis Perry, will also be running sound.  Lead singer Steve Kirkland does a first rate job, as do all members of this band.
Travis Perry
 Steve Kirkland

 The Wilson Family Band

 While we had heard them earlier in 2007, we first came to know the Wilson's at Perry later in the year.  Since then, getting to know this band and to watch them develop has been one of the joys of our association with bluegrass music.  To me they continue to stand out as a model for first rate family bands who wish to grow in the music while remaining well grounded in home, community, school, and family.  Watching young Katie grow into her instrument and voice has been a pleasure.  Clint, now nineteen and a college student, has developed into a fine song writer to accompany his emerging voice and fine multi-instrumental talents highlighted by his Shelor style banjo picking.  Father Robert Wilsons resonant soulful voice and solid rhythm guitar ground the band's sound as Melissa Wilson on mandolin and Bruce Sheridan on bass round out this band.

 Robert Wilson

Clint Wilson

Katie Wilson
Other bands scheduled to perform at Perry include The Andrews Family Band from Lake City, FL, a family band featuring teenage brothers Brian and Michael Anderson and fiddler Anna Kallschmidt, which specializes in bluegrass gospel and bluegrass.

The Tallahassee Fiddlers
The Tallahassee Fiddlers is an outgrowth of the Tallahassee Youth Orchestra specializing in ethnic and folk music, which brings young people playing bluegrass fiddle to this event. The Bottom Dollar Boys are a local band from Tallahassee.

On Saturday, a series of workshops led by festival musicians will be held.  Locations and times will be announced.  Kenny Smith will be one of the workshoppers.   There will also be instrument competitions on Saturday morning.  Finally, the very popular chilli cook-off will be held on Saturday, too.  Sounds like a great day.

Mike Robinson will emcee and, with his wife Mary, lead the Bluegrass Gospel Sing and Jam on Sunday morning.

The Forest Capital Museum State Park in Perry can be found here:

There may be a few electric and water sites available for campers.  The last time we attended this festival there were a good variety of vendors. In addition, a chili cook-off held on Saturday (tickets are $5.00 per person) offers some truly interesting and tasty ideas about how to prepare this delicacy.  A variety of instrumental workshops will be held on Saturday, too.  If we haven't met, please stop me to say hello.