Monday, December 12, 2016

YeeHaw Music Fest 2017 - Preview

Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center from the Air

Agri-Civic Center from the Ground

The YeeHaw Music Fest (once known as YeeHaw Junction Bluegrass Festival) opens for its second season at the Okeechobee Agri-Civic Center in Okeechobee, Florida on January 12, 2017 and will run until Saturday night, January 14th. As is usual with Promoter Ernie Evans festivals, there's always plenty happening on the days running up to the opening of the event. The Gates will open for festival attendees at noon on Monday, January 9th. This year, The Darrell Webb Band will be performing on Tuesday and there will be the usual opening covered dish supper on Wednesday in addition to workshops, jams, and other activities, to be decided. This year's lineup is the strongest at the top that Ernie has offered, while the quality and diversity of local and regional bands continues to improve. 

The Lineup
Pre-Festival Special
The Darrell Webb Band

Darrell Webb, despite his young appearance, has been a professional bluegrass musicians for over two decades with some of the top bands in the business. He toured with Rhonda Vincent, and has recorded with a wide variety of bluegrass and country artists. For the past few years his band has been featured at one of the distillery moonshine restaurants in Gatlinburg, TN. During this period of steady employment the band has sharpened its edge and jelled as a solid attraction. They generate high excitement and genuine energy. You can count on Darrell Webb to provide a high energy show, so come to Okeechobee on time to hear him on Tuesday evening.

Inside the Agri-Civic Center



The Festival Lineup
Gibson Brothers - Eric and Leigh

The Gibson Brothers new CD will be coming our in the next month or two with a full set of new Gibson Brothers songs. They've been playing some of the best material from the new recording as well as fan favorites from their very deep and popular catalog of songs going back over twenty years and ten records, each of which reached the top of the Bluegrass Unlimited album charts. They'll be appearing on Thursday and you'll want to be there for their patented brand of brother harmonies and playful bickering combined with one of the best groups of sidemen anywhere.

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

IIIrd Tyme Out is one of the most rewarded and popular bands in bluegrass music. Russell Moore has been named Male Vocalist of the Year five times, more than any other singer. The band is filled with talent. This year they have been celebrated their 25th anniversary tour with a program containing their many favorites from through the years as well as a chart topping new song. This band is always a pleasure to hear and see. 

Monroe Crossing

The only problem with Monroe Crossing is that we don't get to see them often enough. They're based in Minneapolis and tour extensively in the mid-west and further west. They're a versatile, musically interesting group which plays plenty of traditional music while also reaching into a new basket of material that is filled with quality and, often, humor. 

Nothin' Fancy
Caleb Cox, Tony Shorter, Mike Andes

Nothin' Fancy provides a refreshing change of pace at any festival where they appear. Often under-rated, their performance has become increasingly solid and their recent recording is a first rate effort (disclosure: guess who wrote the liner notes.) I find their combination of classic covers, the heartfelt writing of mandolinist and band emcee Mike Andes, novelty songs, and plain clowning to offer delightful stage craft and musical enjoyment.

Remington Ryde - Ryan Frankhauser

The last time we saw Remington Ryde was last spring at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival where they put on the best performance of theirs I had ever seen - musically controlled and restrained while still presenting their material with enthusiasm and good, clean humor. 

Penny Creek - Susan Pounds

Penny Creek has been around for more than a decade playing gigs around their base in Melbourne, FL. During the past few years they have emerged on the festival scene with their tuneful covers of second and third generation songs as well as some of their own, particularly from guitarist/singer Chris Paganoni. Penny Creek's enthusiasm and their musicality charm and audience. 

The Cunning-Ham's

Dave O'Brien, a member of the Cunning-Hams, quotes the late Evan Carl as having said that they "play songs you don't usually hear at bluegrass festivals." Not seen recently at YeeHaw Junction, the band will be joined by Spider Prevatt on guitar and her twin sister Moe on bass. Frank Cunningham has been a fixture in Florida bluegrass for a generation and Dave O'Brien is a member of a number of bands, including Southern Country Classic, also playing at YeeHaw.

Alligator Alley

Alliagator Alley describes itself as a "new band from South Florida composed of members of other local bands." It offers what it calls "Bluegrass with Bite."

South Country Classic

South Country Classic was created to fill a void after Ernie Evans put together a pick-up band at the first Bluegrass Classic in Brooksville last spring. He had observed the reactions of the bluegrass festival audience to hearing classic country. The tryout was a hit and this band, consisting of local players who have backgrounds in both country and bluegrass, was born. I'm looking forward to hearing this band for the first time and confident they'll be very well received. 

Blue Cypress

Blue Cypress returns to YeeHaw after a successful appearance last year. Their music is largely first and generation traditional covers, which they play with energy and enthusiasm.

Greg Bird

Greg Bird is Florida's resident country karaoke guru. He'll be offering his own song interpretations as well as encouraging audience members to grab the mic and take a shot themselves during the run-up to the festival.

Jan Ladd

Jan Ladd, along with her husband Larry, will be leading a Sunday morning gospel jam.

Jo Odom - Emcee

The Details
The Festival flier can be viewed here, and may be printed. It contains details about ordering tickets. Early bird tickets will be available for another week, until December 19th at a saving of $10.00 from the gate price available thereafter. Reserved seating in the front rows is available for an additional $5.00 per ticket. There is extensive camping available, but a limited number of water and electric hookups. Call to make a reservation. You can make a campsite reservation and obtain a reserved seat by calling (904) 886-8378. 

Camping Facilities




The Agri-Civic Center is located at Agri-Civic Center 4601 FL-710, Okeechobee, FL 34974. Here's a map of how to get there:
How to Get to the Agri-Civic Center
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Last year was a learning experience for all involved. It was the first time this facility, generally used for rodeos, farm events, and rock concerts had ever hosted a bluegrass festival. Promoter Ernie Evans and his small staff, had to learn how to adapt the site to the needs of a typical bluegrass event, how to lay out the grounds for a crowd that largely brought its own accommodations with it.Weather problems beset this inaugural event with a prolonged period of wet weather preceding it and a rare cold front clamping down on South Florida for the three days of the event. Nevertheless, the site and the music proved to be a success that can only continue to improve with this year's stellar, varied, and balanced lineup, the benefit of experience, and always welcome good weather. The ability to withstand questionable conditions was enhanced by the size and flexibility of the facility itself.