Saturday at bluegrass festivals almost always turn out to provide a few surprises. Maybe it's the culmination of a longish weekend or the sense that festivity should be really festive. Performers give their best performances for responsive and engaged audiences, and big drive-in day crowds bring new energy to almost every event. A major headliner or two doesn't hurt, either. With Rhonda Vincent & the Rage followed by country legend Gene Watson closing out the evening, a big and enthusiastic crowd was on hand, filling the music shed to the back, and expanding the sides far beyond the extra tent provided. Fortunately, the weather cooperated as the sun broke through a few times and no rain fell. Sadly, for me, the Ranch concession stand ran out of cookies before noontime, depriving me of the great chocolate chip cookies and brownies made on campus. On the other hand, the Brunswick Stew, provided by a ranch supporter in huge quantities was still available, and I enjoyed another large cup of this wonderful regional delicacy in mid-afternoon. That's a good enough way to start off what turned out to be a fine day of music and celebration.
Cody Shuler brought what has become his usual Florida band to Palatka, featuring veteran Terry Baucom with his very strong banjo. Jerry Cole's energy and very fine voice provides a lot strength to this band, and Matt Flake brings a strong bass beat, although I prefer his even better fiddle play, when he's on fiddle. They're a strong band for the opening slot.
Little Roy Lewis remains, after more than sixty years in the business, the preeminent clown in bluegrass music, a genre that once relied on the baggy pants clown as a staple. His effective clown work, in his own shows and in appearances in other people's shows, too, often leads people to overlook the quality and distinctive style of his musicianship. Meanwhile, Lizzy Long has established herself as an extremely able multi-instrumentalist on at least five different instruments. Meanwhile, David Hevner has been added on bass and the band has a new guitar player, too.
Little Roy Lewis & Lizzy Long
Isaac Smith & Chris Wade
Isaac Smith, Zach Rambo, & Marty Raybon
Rhonda Vincent & the Rage
Josh Williams & Aaron McDaris
Rhonda - Staying out in the Chill Wind
Eighty-Sixth Birthday at Palatka
The Silent Auction Quilt
Some Boys from the Ranch with Ranch Director Ken Johnson
Jeff King - Director of Development
...But Rhonda Escapes from Captivity
Driving Lizzy off the Stage
...To Complete Her Duet with Gene Watson
Rhonda Vincent & Gene Watson
Rhonda & Gene