Monday, February 2, 2015

The Palatka Bluegrass Festival at Rodeheaver Boys Ranch - February 19 - 21: Preview

Norman & Judy Adams will present the Eleventh Annual Palatka Bluegrass Festival at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch along Florida route 19 about ten miles south of Palatka, FL from February 19 - 21 this year. The festival has become the crown jewel of Florida Bluegrass Festivals, boasting an all-star lineup while serving as a fund raiser for a worthy cause. Founded by evangelist Homer Rodeheaver, credited with having invented the Easter morning Sunrise Service and a partner of revivalist Billy Sunday, the ranch, built on 790 acres along the St. John's River, serves as a home for fifty needy boys who've come to live there because their home can not support them properly. The Bluegrass Festival has become an important fund raiser for the ranch, which has built a 600 site campground providing water and electric service as well as a large stage complex and support buildings. Campers usually begin arriving on Monday, and Palatka always provides a good time.

Jammin' with Johnnie Adams

The Lineup

Alan Sibley & the Magnolia Ramblers

I've never heard Alan Sibley & the Magnolia Ramblers, but their web site characterizes them as playing standard and original gospel music and traditional bluegrass. Sibley was named the Magnolia Bluegrass Association's Male Vocalist of the Year in 2010, 2011 and 2013 and Mandolin Player of the Year 2011, 2012 and 2013. The band originates in Mississippi.

The Spinney Brothers

The Spinney Brothers, Rick and Alan, have appeared with increasing success throughout the United States, having committed themselves to spreading their influence from their home in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia. Their pleasing combination of traditional sounding, but often newly penned, bluegrass with classic country mines a deep well of nostalgia for their audiences. They will appear at Palatka for two days.

Russel Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

Russell Moore, possessed of one of the finest bluegrass voices around, has won IBMA Male Vocalist of the Year five times over a period of nearly twenty years, showing a record of remarkable longevity. Meanwhile the band has been named Vocal Group of the Year seven times. Recently the band has gone through some personnel changes which will prove to add to the band's vocal and instrumental versatility. Blake Johnson on bass and both harmony and lead vocals has been a real addition. We always look forward to seeing this fine band.

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Doyle Lawson, in over fifty years in bluegrass and gospel music, has been an innovator and a taste maker. Doyle's early career had him playing with Jimmy Martin, J.D. Crowe & the New South and he was featured in the "second classic lineup" of the Country Gentlemen, which included Charlie Waller, Jerry Douglas, Bill Yates, Bill Emerson and Ricky Skaggs. He founded what became Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in 1979, and the rest is history. Doyle's band has, over the years, launched the careers of many headliners, including Jamie Dailey. His reputation is of being a demanding taskmaster, a first-rate band leader, and a fine showman. His achievements are too many to mention. Suffice it to say he was inducted in the Bluegrass Hall of Fame in 2012. Lawson's second set on Thursday evening will feature a reunion of some notable alumni of the band, as well a the current crop of virtuoso artists.

Rhonda Vincnt & the Rage

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage come to Palatka and will again deliver their highly polished, almost always different show which attracts fans wherever she goes. Rhonda has surrounded herself with some of the strongest, most able singers and pickers in the business, allowing her band significant versatility in both the kinds of songs they sing and how they're delivered. Hunter Berry, her long time fiddler, deserves considerably more recognition than he has been given by the profession for both his fiddle play and his sly humor. Aaron McDaris, anchoring the other end of the line, is one of the most versatile and consistently strong banjo players around. Mickey Harris, on bass, provides, along with Josh Williams, one of the strongest harmony back-ups any singer has, while both provide Rhonda with a rest because they're top-notch soloists, too. Brent Burke, the newest addition to the band, has begun to sing with the band, as well as being one of the finest young Dobro players on tour. Beyond all this, Rhonda Vincent has accumulated what may be the largest fan-base in bluegrass through her focused and assiduous attention to them. This is always one of the most enjoyable and consistent high concept show bands around. 

The Palatka Campground

Breakfast & Supper are Served in the Dining Hall

Pete Wernick Jam Class with Gilbert Nelson

Gilbert Nelson


The VW Boys

The VW Boys feature Tim White, producer of television's Song of the Mountains presented at the Lincoln Theater in Marion, VA and syndicated nationwide on public television, performs with singing and comedy partner Dave Vaught in a show featuring plenty of music, magic, and laughter. While music is a serious business, this group doesn't take itself too seriously, as they provide plenty of fun for the bluegrass audience. Sit back and enjoy this fun show!

Dry Branch Fire Squad

Ron Thomason has been in bluegrass almost since the beginning, having played with the Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys in the early years. He founded the Dry Branch Fire Squad in 1976 and has toured with the band, which has had the same lineup for the past ten years or so, since then, featuring primitive old-time gospel and secular music, as well as Thomason's finely honed topical commentary on music and life. His gospel program on Sunday morning is a fixture at a number of bluegrass festivals. Dry Branch Fire Squad will perform on Friday and Saturday.

The Boxcars

Under the leadership of eleven time IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year, Adam Steffey, the Boxcars have established their excellence as a powerful force in instrumental performance, having won the IBMA award for Emerging Band in 2011 and Instrumental Band of the Year from 2011 - 2013. Ron Stewart on banjo and fiddle has won IBMA awards in both instruments, an unparalleled feat. Keith Garret is a prolific song writer, who writes much of the band's new material, while also singing lead on most songs. Harold Nixon on bass drives the band with a reliable, powerful beat. Dobro player Gary Hultman, still an undergraduate at ETSU, has recently joined the band on Dobro and vocals, adding youth and a refreshing humor to the band. For fans of pure, straight ahead, elegant bluegrass, this is a band to listen to carefully. 

Jimmy Fortune

Jimmy Fortune sang with the Statler Brothers for over twenty years, penning some of their greatest hits. Recently, he has been touring as a solo performer backed by an instrumental duo, performing his greatest hits as well as performing as a guest with Dailey & Vincent. His solo show last year at Palatka was very well received, and he reprises it this year. His repertoire is largely familiar and well loved by his audience. His stage personality is delightful. 

Dailey & Vincent

It's hard to imagine that Dailey & Vincent have only been on the scene as a band since 2007 because they each were already well known for their performances with Doyle Lawson and Ricky Skaggs, respectively. Since joining forces, they have garnered numerous IBMA Awards (including Entertainer of the Year three times and three time Vocal Group of the Year) as well as numerous SPBGMA awards and a Grammy nomination. They present high impact, high energy shows in bluegrass, country, and gospel settings, using different band members, instrumentation, and format in the three settings. Their performances of the Star Spangled Banner at various professional sports events have been very positively received. Their very carefully structured performance features a blend of traditional bluegrass music, fervent gospel music, and country classics combined with broad comedy that their audience responds to with cheers and encores. Their regular show on Friday night will be followed with a second show featuring Jimmy Fortune.

Dailey & Vincent Gospel Quartet

Sherry Boyd - Emcee Extraordinaire 

Ice Cream Social


Breaking Grass - Cody Farrar

Breaking Grass is a young, enthusiastic, and, for its age, experienced bluegrass band from Mississippi playing a very lively and interesting combination of Farrar's own compositions, New Grass Revival material, and traditional bluegrass and gospel tunes. Farrar's infectious smile complemented by the band's general enthusiasm and youth combine to provide an interesting and pleasing vibe coming from a new kid on the block. They have been patiently and carefully building an audience and widening their range away from home, and have recently signed with Mountain Fever records, a leap forward that should benefit their visibility. Try to catch either their opening set, their set immediately after supper break, or both. You won't be disappointed.

The Little Roy & Lizzie Show
Little Roy Lewis

Little Roy Lewis toured with his family band, specializing in gospel music and vaudeville-like cutup comedy for generations of bluegrass and gospel fans. His connections to the history and traditions of both bluegrass and gospel music are indisputable. His elastic face and willingness to play the fool have endeared him to generations of fans, as well as his musical colleagues who welcome his appearances on their stage. Since the incapacity of his sisters to perform any longer, Little Roy has partnered with his protege and musical partner, the multi-talented Lizzy Long to tour as the Little Roy & Lizzy Show, bringing both faith and baggy pants comedy to their stage. As Lizzy Long has matured, she has taken an ever increasing role as band spokesman as she tries, mostly without success, to retrain the irrepressible Little Roy. The show hearkens back to a time which has, sadly, passed from the bluegrass stage.

Lizzy Long

Two Seasoned Troupers

Marty Raybon & Full Circle

Marty Raybon reminds fans of bluegrass's deep roots in both soul and country music, or country's roots in bluegrass, whichever you prefer. While he continues his tour with the very successful country band Shenandoah, he continues to tour with his bluegrass band, Mary Raybon & Full Circle. By bringing bluegrass and country music together with the fine bands he fronts, he keeps the best of both genres before us. And don't forget, he's one of the best singers of sacred music around.  With his brother Tim backing him on bass and Zach Rambo bringing strong mandolin and harmony singing to the mix, the band hits on all cylinders. I was pretty resistant to Marty's charm and strengths as a singer and performer when I first saw him, but fortunately, I kept my ears and mind open, and he's grown terrifically on  me over the years. I'm a fan.....

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers have built their enviable reputation on twenty years of hard work and careful refining of their sound and their material. With their extensive song catalog, based largely on material they wrote about their experiences growing up on a dairy farm in the farthest reaches of northern New York State and a show built on the humor and love of a sibling relationship gone right, they have established a consistent record of performance, with each of their last seven CD's reaching number one on the bluegrass charts and staying there for significant periods of time. Along the way, they've been rewarded with recognition as songwriter of the year, song of the year (2), vocal group of the year (2), emerging artist of the year, album of the year, and entertainer of the year (2). They work without a set-list, playing off their sense of what's the best song for the audience they see before them. They flavor their act with a carefully honed, yet improvisational patter emphasizing the sort of tensions brothers experience without ever reaching the audience cringe point. Their new CD, a concept album featuring their take on brother duos through the years and called "Brotherhood" will be released on February 24, but they will have plenty of copies available at Palatka. 

The Grascals

The Grascals were began to tour as a band in 2004 after coming together as the house band at The World's Famous Station Inn in Nashville, a group a sidemen, several of whom had experience touring with The Osborne Brothers. Soon the Grascals found work touring with Dolly Parton, and their work combines real homage to both the Osborne's and Parton as well as other bluegrass and country legends from Jimmy Martin to George Jones. Adam Haynes has recently joined the Gracals on fiddle, re-energizing the left end of the band, while Kristen Scott Benson has won IBMA Banjo Player of the Year four times from the right side. The band has also been recognized as Entertainer of the Year (2), and Song of the Year. They have been a consistently strong supporter of Musicians Against Childhood Cancer and often travel to St. Jude Children's Research Hospital to entertain the children there. Singer/songwriter Jamie Johnson's song "I Am Strong" has become an informal theme song at St. Jude. The Grascals are an entertaining and joy-filled band.

The Details

Click Below to See Festival Flier:

For Camping Call: F or Camping Call : (386) 328-1281

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Promoter Norman & Judy Adams