Early in the morning, the fog hung over the Palatka Boys Ranch camping area, about twenty feet above the crowded in rigs. I ran to get my camera, but the fog settled and there was no picture. Soon, the sun rose, the fog burned off, and one of the loveliest days we've ever had at Palatka ensued. The sun shone without a cloud in the sky, the music began at noon and continued into the evening, the day crowd came, and there was a good sense of the gladness at being back at Palatka for another year, the tenth annual festival in support of the ranch.
Larry Sparks, this year celebrating having delivered fifty years of wonderful singing to the bluegrass world, seemed a mite cranky today, as he gestured to his watch several times, forgot the name of his bass player, and kept the focus entirely on himself. Regardless of this, his voice remains in top shape as he sings those songs that are a part of every traditional bluegrass fan's definition of what makes bluegrass. The focus has never been on his band, which continues to support him well, but on Sparks and his singing.
Jimmy Fortune, performing alone on an empty stage, was impressive as he sang many of the hit songs he had written and performed with the Statler Brothers, accompanying himself on the guitar. He has a wonderfully clear tenor voice and a very pleasant stage personality. He was rewarded with a heartfelt encore for his fine performance.