Thursday, February 2, 2012

Palatka Bluegrass Festival - Preview


The Palatka Bluegrass Festival will open for its eighth annual show on Thursday, February 16 and run through Saturday, February 18th at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch a few miles south of Palatka, FL. This festival, begun eight years ago as a fund raiser for the Ranch, which provides a home and framework for living to about fifty boys from difficult circumstances has become a must attend of the Florida winter season.  As one of the jewels in the Adams & Anderson series of bluegrass festivals carpeting the south, Palatka has proven itself to be a winner for fans, the ranch, and the promoters as thousands of people assemble here each year under the big tin-roofed shed to enjoy an all-star bluegrass festival.

New to Palatka this Year
Volume Five

This band from Alabama, fronted by veteran Glenn Harrell has been getting lots of air-play and recognition recently.  Several members of this band will be familiar to bluegrass fans who will remember having seen them playing with bands like David Davis & the Warrior River Boys, Randy Kohrs, Larry Stephenson, and others. This band should prove interesting to watch and hear as they develop during the next few years. They've already released several well-received recordings.

The Moron Brothers

The Moron Brothers are known for their topical and satirical country humor. Always good for a laugh, this duo, which comes from Kentucky, can be counted on for their humor and good clean fun.

Ernie Evans & the Florida State Bluegrass Band

Ernie Evans is a well-recognized fixture in the Florida bluegrass scene as a performer, promoter, and radio personality on local FM radio in the Jacksonville area as well as nationally and internationally on World Wide Bluegrass. His latest band features traditional bluegrass as well as grassed versions of more contemporary material.

The Rodeheaver Boys Ranch

Since 1950 the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch has provided  "a wholesome home environment with religious, educational, and vocational training for needy boys." Several years ago the ranch director decided to host an annual bluegrass festival as a major portion of its fund raising effort. A 500 site campground was built with water and electric hookups, a performance shed with stage erected, and a gift shop/snack bar built. The event quickly became a Florida bluegrass destination. The promotional duo of Norman Adams and Tony Williamson provide a stellar lineup while the Ranch staff, assisted by the boys after school and on Saturdays, and a committed group of volunteers provide the necessary support structure. Meals, including a hearty breakfast are served in the ranch dining room, a shuttle bus takes campers back to their rigs, while a full range of merchandise and food vendors supplement the ranch's offerings. The music shed provides reliable relief from possible rain and, when necessary, curtains are hung and heaters turned on to increase warmth in it. 

The Dining Hall
  
The Shed

The Campground

The Shuttle

2012 All-Star Lineup

A hallmark of Adams and Anderson festivals is the mixture of bluegrass legends with up-and-coming bands and major contemporary attractions. This year is no different as legendary pickers like Jesse McReynolds and Bobby Osborne are joined by more recent huge attractions such as Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver as well as Dailey & Vincent. 

Thursday - February 16
Tony Holt & the Wildwood Valley Boys
Audie Blaylock & Redline
Marty Raybon & Full Circle
Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys
Chris Jones & the Night Drivers
 Dailey & Vincent (one 90 Minute Show)

Audie Blaylock

 Marty Raybon

Jesse McReynolds

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers

Dailey & Vincent

Friday - February 17
Volume Five
Darin & Brooke Aldridge
Goldwing Express
Danny Paisley & Southern Grass
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Darin & Brooke Aldridge w/Rachel J. Boyd

Goldwing Express

Danny Paisley & Southern Grass

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Saturday - February 18
Ernie Evans & the Florida State Bluegrass Band
The Little Roy & Lizzie Show
The Moron Brothers
The Larry Stephenson Band
Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top Express
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Ernie Evans

Little Roy & Lizzy


The Larry Stephenson Band

Bobby Osborne & Rocky Top Express

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out


A Wernick Style bluegrass jamming class will be presented by authorized Wernick instructor Gilbert Nelson from 10:00 until 12:00 noon each day during the festival. For more information look here.


There's no place other than a bluegrass festival where so much fine entertainment can be had for such a reasonable price. With tickets at a top price of $85.00 for three days plus a premium for reserved seating and the cost of camping with water and electricity, a bluegrass festival is an economic bargain filled with musical and social riches. The Palatka Bluegrass Festival adds the opportunity to support a worthy cause.

Placing seats has always been something of a hassle at Rodeheaver. The crush on Wednesday morning has, it is hoped, been alleviated by the addition of four sections of reserved seating having been set aside at premium prices. I assume that when owners' seats are vacant, they are fair game for anyone with a general admission ticket until the owner returns.  Further information about festival details can be found here.  Information about other Adams and Anderson festivals is here.

How to Get to Rodeheaver Boys Ranch
(Palatka Bluegrass Festival)


Norman & Judy Adams