Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Palatka Bluegrass Festival 2012 - Saturday & Assessment

There's a rhythm to a good bluegrass festival as the event builds through its first couple of days to increased enthusiasm, participation, and excitement growing into a Saturday night climax. Despite having huge headliners on previous nights, Saturday often feels like a high time. There's also a daily rhythm. On Thursdays, people who've often waited several days for the music to start are eager to get to the stage. As the long weekend proceeds, the early afternoon is often quieter. People come in for the climactic evening to fill the space available and cheer on the show. The crowd wants to keep favorites on the stage longer, and it becomes ever more difficult to keep the event on schedule. 

Open Stage
Backstage Bluegraass

 Rick McClure


Bluegrass Revolution

Ernie Evans & the Florida State Bluegrass Band

Ernie Evans plays a variety of roles in bluegrass - promoter, radio broadcaster, media developer, and performer. He's also spearheaded and helped maintain instrument and band contests to highlight and develop Florida-based performers.  While claiming he'd rather just have a band and perform, he's a talented and able guy who makes his best contribution to bluegrass with his hands in many pots. His current band has breadth and quality. Their work at Palatka represented the region well, and we look forward to hearing more from him.

Ernie Evans

Deb Evans

Isaac Taylor

Nate Lee
Mike Downey
Ernie Evans & the Florida State Bluegrass Band
John Henry - Video


The Little Roy & Lizzy Show

For more than fifty years Little Roy Lewis has been a featured performer, first as a member of the Lewis Family Band and now as a featured performer, with his foster daughter/ward Lizzy Long, in their own show.  Little Roy is a hyper-active ball of energy, enthusiasm, and much under-rated skill, as a musician. perhaps for his classic clowning, a role going back to the country music days before bluegrass.  While the Little Roy & Lizzy show continues to highlight plenty of bluegrass gospel, much of it from the Lewis Family tradition, Little Roy is now free to sing secular lyrics, widening his repertoire and showing off more of his versatility.  Lizzy continues to grow as the front person in the band. Her emcee skills are smoother and more spontaneous appearing, her singing more warm and lyrical, and her musicianship on banjo, fiddle, and guitar solid and regularly improving. Audiences love this band and reward it with plenty of laughter, applause, and well-earned encores.

Little Roy Lewis

Lizzy Long

Nathan Stewart

Al Hoyle

Lisa Hoyle


Little Roy & Lizzy - Remember Me - Video

The VW Boys

Substituting on short notice for the Moron Brothers, who encountered family health problems, the VW Boys were a truly enjoyable surprise. Combining excellent singing, good musicianship, humor, and magic, this band provides an excellent, and tasteful, change-of-pace for any bluegrass festival.  Composed of bluegrass promoter and performer Tim White (Song of the Mountains on PBS among other accomplishments), Dave Vaught, a veteran performer and magician, and Albert Blackburn, a member of several Virginia bluegrass bands whose voice carries both strength and conviction have come together with this truly delightful act. Promoters looking for a delightful addition to a bluegrass lineup should seriously consider booking this band.

Dave Vaught
Tim White

Albert Blackburn

Dave Vaught's Magic

The Larry Stephenson Band

We've seen a lot of the Larry Stephenson Band over the past year or so, and we don't get tired of hearing or seeing them. Larry's fine tenor voice sets a contemporary standard for high, not-so-lonesome tenors. Each member of the band is excellent. Veteran banjo picker Kenny Ingram, who was installed in the SPBGMA Hall of Honor earlier this month, sets a standard for Scruggs style banjo players in today's bluegrass world. Kevin Richardson has a fine harmony voice and plays excellent guitar. Danny Stewart, Jr., Adjunct Professor of Music at East Tennessee State University, more than capably handles the bass and bass vocals on gospel quartets. The band has a full sound and always keeps the show moving. This weekend, a friend of Larry's dropped in for the show in a surprising fashion. Look for Larry's new CD soon.

Larry Stephenson

Kenny Ingram

Kevin Richardson

Danny Stewart, Jr.

Larry's Friend Arrives

Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press

Bobby Osborne has been in bluegrass music since playing with the Lonesome Pine Fiddlers back in the 1940's and played with some of bluegrass music's greatest performers during his long career. With his brother Sonny on banjo, the Osborne Brothers achieved their greatest popularity in the fifties and sixties. They hold the distinction of being the only bluegrass performers to have popularized two state songs, Rocky Top, the Tennessee state song, and Kentucky.  They are still remembered for Bobby's fine tenor voice and Sonny's remarkable ground-breaking banjo work. Bobby continues to tour with his son Bobby, Jr.

 Bobby Osborne

Bobby Osborne, Jr. 

Mike Toppins

Joe Miller

Susan and co-promoter Tony Anderson

IIIrd Tyme Out

IIIrd Tyme Out, in its twentieth year as a band, keeps on getting better.  The band's been highly recognized with awards and huge popularity over the years. Currently, they have a hit song heading the charts now (Pretty Little Girl from Galax) on their 15th album. Their first album also had a number one hit in "Erase the Miles." Russell Moore has been named IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year four times, again with several years between his early wins and the most recent ones. This record of consistency and achievement is both rare and wonderful. Relying on fine music and the funny patter of banjoist Steve Dilling, the band just keeps on delivering. What a great group to close out a fine festival!

Russell Moore
Steve Dilling

Wayne Benson

 Justin Haynes

Edgar Loudermilk

IIIrd Tyme Out - Pretty Little Girl from Galax - Video

The Rodeheaver Boys Ranch is an almost ideal place to hold a bluegrass Festival. The music shed, newly paved provides cover from the weather and has been tuned to help a good sound-man like Madison Gibson, who, sadly is retiring this year, give excellent sound. Former seating issues have been largely resolved. The Ranch and its hard working, warm-hearted staff make visitors welcome throughout the week.  The campground has been hardened to make it a reliable spot for hundreds of RVs.  The grounds are kept immaculately clean. The boys, who are, after all, the reason for the festival, are often in evidence on Friday afternoon (after school) and all day Saturday. They work to help make the event successful, but more important show, through their deportment and presence, the reason they're so highly valued by the ranch. People wishing to learn more about the Ranch can do so here and make donations to support their efforts here.

Ken Johnson - Rodeheaver Boys Ranch Executive Director

 Norman Adams (co-producer) and Judy Ellis Adams

IIIrd Tyme Out - Erase the Miles - Video

Irene shot many more videos at Palatka during all three days. They'll appear on my YouTube channel over the next few months. Sadly, because of severe band-width restrictions, I can't upload them any more quickly. Keep looking at the channel for new material.