Thursday, January 8, 2015

YeeHaw Junction Bluegrass Festival - January 22 - 24, 2015 - Preview

The YeeHaw Junction Bluegrass Festival kicks off it's 21st edition with a gala Potluck Supper on Wednesday evening January 22 and runs through Saturday night with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage headlining. This will be the sixth and last YeeHaw Junction promoted by Keith & Darlene Bass. It is expected that another promoter will continue the event next year. 

YeeHaw Junction, located about thirty miles west of Vero Beach in South/Central Florida is the last festival still held that we attend held in a field where there is virtually no permanent infra-structure. Each year, the bluegrass community assembles here to rebuild the physical and cultural community constituting a bluegrass festival. As the first Florida festival of the New Year, YeeHaw Junction holds a special place in the hearts of snowbirds migrating to their winter playground in the Sunshine State. As they drive past the "World Famous Desert Inn" and turn right at the sign announcing the festival, fans feel a sense of homecoming in this pasture, only recently cleared of cattle and mown with most of the cow pies either dry or removed, bounded on every side by orange groves and cattle.

The Lineup & Schedule

Jerry Butler & the Blu-J's

A friend of mine once said that Jerry Butler made every band he played with better because he was there. Upbeat, friendly, and deeply grounded in bluegrass music with experience in both major touring bands and playing around his home town of Knoxville, TN, Jerry always brings warmth and enthusiasm to any festival where he performs. His current band has been with him for three years now, and they're a solid, accomplished bunch.

Jerry Butler

Southern Express Bluegrass

We haven't heard this Florida based bluegrass band before, but they're a Florida-based band playing out of the Tampa area. Look for a solid, traditional group.

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road

This North Carolina band is Carolina Blue to its very core. Lorraine Jordan has fronted the for a dozen years or more, building it into a reliable and entertaining group featuring virtuoso Josh Goforth on fiddle and guitar with Tommy Long as lead singer. Ben Greene is one of the most reliable Scruggs style banjo players around. Lorraine writes many of the band's songs and emcees while also playing mandolin and singing - a good, entertaining band.

Lorraine Jordan

Nothin' Fancy

Formed in 1994, Nothin' Fancy has had only one major change in personnel during the ensuing twenty-one years. The addition of Jesse Smathers a year ago on lead/rhythm guitar and tenor vocals added to the band's versatility. One of the few bands that functions as a democracy, lead singer Mike Andes writes much of the music and serves as band emcee. Chris Sexton on fiddle is a virtuoso on his instrument as well as playing the audience. The band features lots of excellent physical humor well integrated with its varied musical menu. Tony Shorter, on bass, offers what passes for sex appeal with this very entertaining band.

Tony Shorter & Mike Andes

Both Friday and Saturday begin the day at 10:00 o'clock with well designed workshops offered by experienced musicians who are also good teachers. Bring your instrument and learn stay to learn.

Penny Creek

We saw Penny Creek, an enjoyable local bluegrass band from Melbourne, FL that grew together out of jams in a local tap room, for the first time last year. Our immediate reaction was to ask, "Where've they been all the time we've been coming to Florida?" They're entertaining and solidly musical.

Sue Pounds

Generations Bluegrass

Generations Bluegrass got its name representing a family band including four generations of a Florida bluegrass family. One of the real pleasures over the years has been watching young Katie Rogers grow from an awkward fourteen year old into a poised performer embarking on a Ph.D. program in Citrus Science at the University of Florida. Bobby Martin on banjo is one of the very good, reliable Florida bluegrass banjo players. LeRon and April Rogers continue the traditions of the band.

LeRon & April Rogers

The Bluegrass Brothers
Robert, Donnie & Victor Dowdy

The Bluegrass Brothers, based in Virginia, have become quite popular and recognized for the hard-edged and enthusiastic interpretations of first and second generation bluegrass classics. The return of Robert and Donnie Dowdy to this band has returned a good deal of its original spirit. Filled with energy and enthusiasm, they always give their best.

Stephen Dowdy

Robert & Victor Dowdy

 While bands repeat at YeeHaw Junction, I only highlight them on one day.

The Wednesday Potluck
Bluegrass People are Willing Eaters!

Hwy 41 South

Hwy 41 South has become a staple local band many Florida festivals during past several years. Featuring the fine country voice of JR Davis and excellent instrumental ensemble work, the band plays primarily classic bluegrass covers. Mark Horn leads the band and serves as emcee.

Mark Horn

Keith Bass & the Florida Bluegrass Express

The host band for YeeHaw Junction, the band features strong material from bluegrass' second generation and a solid ensemble sound highlighted by Shane Stewart and Clint Dockry's singing. Enjoy this band!

Keith Bass


Sideline began as just what the name implies, a side project for musicians from the Raleigh area looking for some extra cash during slack periods of the year. Imagine their surprise as the gigs started to pile up and parent bands to complain. Brian Aldridge has replaced Darrell Webb on mandolin and vocals, while Skip Cherryholmes has committed himself to playing closer to home with his father-in-law Steve Dilling, still one of the best band emcees in the business. Greg Luck brings depth and breadth to the band, while Jason Moore can drive any band from his position at bass. This is as good a cover band as your likely to see. They've recently embarked on recording their second CD.

Steve Dilling

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage

There's a good reason Rhonda Vincent is called the "Queen of Bluegrass." She's the hardest working, and arguably most successful woman to ever front a bluegrass band. The Rage regularly cards over 130 dates a year from major festivals to super market openings where her sponsor Martha White Flour often asks her to appear. The band consists on many of the most able side men in bluegrass, highlighted by three time guitar player of the year and former emerging artist Josh Williams. Her latest son-in-law Brent Davis is one of the finest Dobro players in the business despite his youth. His brother-in-law Hunter Berry is past due for recognition as fiddle player of the year. Rhonda still has one of the clearest singing voices around and sparkles whenever she hits the stage. Her willingness to spend time with her legion of fans is legendary. Rhonda Vincent & the Rage always deliver.

Rhonda Vincent

Beautiful Sunset

The Details

Campers attending YeeHaw Junction should plan on arriving with full water tanks and empty dump tanks, although water and pump-outs are available. All electric hookups have been rented, but some may become available as the date nears. If you're looking for one, call Darlene Bass (863.634.5815) and get yourself on the wait list. If camping isn't your thing, the Country Inn & Suites in Vero Beach is the host hotel. Use code word: YeeHaw Junction when making your reservation. There are plenty of food vendors available on site, but it's a drive to the nearest super market or other shopping in either Vero Beach (east) or Lake Wales (west). For other details, check the flier here.

How to Get to YeeHaw Junction
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Promoters Keith & Darlene Bass

Thanks for the Memories!