Monday, February 20, 2017

Palatka Bluegrass Festival 2017 - Thursday Review

Drone Photo by Geoffrey Keyes

The Palatka Bluegrass Festival is the crown jewel of the Florida bluegrass year. Beginning its thirteenth annual visit to the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, this year's event offered one of the strongest lineups of contemporary traditional bluegrass available anywhere. We like to arrive fairly early at a festival location in order to watch the community reassemble in this week's venue for a celebration of an American music with its roots deep in the mountains of Appalachia and its growth into a full-fledged genre generated in mills, factories, and bars across the country. The three day festival promised to provide top notch music from major award winners as well as great variety of style and substance that diversity has generated. It delivered in full measure. 

Judy & Norman Adams

Norman Adams has been promoting bluegrass festivals in the South for forty years. From Florida to West Virginia, his brand promises a variety of bluegrass, gospel, and country music which entertains groups of people who avidly follow his festivals or select one or two a year, knowing that they'll get full value in a clean, wholesome environment. 

Some Come to Jam - Night...

...And Day

George Bottcher

While Others Come to Relax

Jerry Foran & the Bluegrass Revolution

Jerry Foran has been around Florida for years playing bluegrass and gospel music. His band opened on Thursday with a solid set of bluegrass standards.

Jerry Foran

Floyd Smith

Clarence Canada

Lester Canada

Marie Holly

The Ranch Concessions 

Shirley Huckabee

Joe Huckabee

Penny Creek

Penny Creek, from Melbourne, FL, has moved from being a showcase band three years ago into a better slot each year it has appeared at Palatka. This movement coincides with the band's increasing quality, as it has added strong performers on mandolin and fiddle to the core band of Susan Pounds, Chris Paganoni, and Isaac Taylor. They've worked hard and it shows.

Susan Pounds

Chris Paganoni

Isaac Taylor

Fritz Kraemer

Trevor Klutz

Handicap Parking Lot

Little Roy & Lizzy Show

More than fifty years in the business and still at it, Little Roy gets lots of recognition as a madcap, relentless clown, which often covers the fact that he's one of the best musicians ever to inhabit the bluegrass world. He plays all the instruments, including the auto-harp, with enthusiasm and skill. He can play hard and fast as well as sweet and mellow. Haley Stltner, now with the band for a couple of years, is solid on bass as well as vocal harmony. Lizzy Long follows in the footsteps of her famous foster parent as well as trying her best to tame him. Take some time to see this band through historical lenses and give them the appreciation they deserve. 

Little Roy Lewis

Lizzy Long

Nathan Stewart

Tyler Biddix

Haley Stiltner

Danny Bureau

Feller & Hill

Tom Feller and Christopher Hill are long time troopers, both with blood and cultural ties to the midwest under the leadership of Aubrey and Jerry Holt in the nineteen seventies. Aubrey's son Tony assumed leadership of the band, which became Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys. Tom Feller is Tony's cousin and Chris played with the band early in his career. They formed Feller & Hill and the Bluegrass Buckaroos to celebrate the life and music of Buck Owens in bluegrass and country music as well as keep the Boys From Indiana's music alive. The band has come full circle, and been immeasurably strengthened by the addition of Tony Holt on guitar and vocals. Their energy is infectious and their presentation lively. 

Chris Hill

Tom Feller

Tony Holt

Bobby Davis

Tom Feller & Chris Hill

The Trio


Irene Lehmann

Janet & Lamar Moss

Jackson, Cordle & Salley

Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle, and Jerry Salley...three of Nashville's most successful songwriters and performers have joined together to tour, singing a medley of each of their songs along with telling the stories behind these quite familiar personalities. Carl Jackson left home in Mississippi at age fourteen to join Jim & Jesse McReynolds and later joined Glen Campbell, where he remained for fourteen years. He has won two Grammy's and three IBMA awards as a singer, songwriter and record producer. He wrote Erase the Miles and I'm Not Over Your for Rhonda Vincent, as well as hundreds more. Larry Cordle, a product of eastern Kentucky, is the writer of several standards, including the award winning Highway Forty Blues and Murder on Music Row which both charted in country and bluegrass. He tours with his band Lonesome Standard Time. Jerry Salley, from Chillicothe, OH, has had over 300 songs recorded by country and bluegrass greats, as well as many gospel songs. Together, the three men spin a web of nostalgia and melody hard to beat anywhere. Performing at Palatka with the superb sound of John Holder's Blue Ridge Sound and the eager participation of a near sellout crowd, they were the best I've ever heard them.

Carl Jackson 

Larry Cordle

Jerry Salley

Red Jones

Little known to bluegrass fans, Red Jones is a welcome fixture in bluegrass. He and his family provide meals and a quiet getaway for musicians, where they can kick back in private for a few moments and simply relax. Red also makes the best ribs I've ever tasted!

Golf Cart Coral

Geoffrey & Katie Keyes - Twins
and ace stage sound managers

 The Del McCoury Band

Del McCoury, at age seventy-seven, is still one of the most exciting performers in bluegrass music. A member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame and winner by himself and with the members of his band of an almost uncountable number of IBMA awards (31) as well as two Grammy's. He has retained a penetrating and exciting voice along with one of the most pleasing personalities in bluegrass. His rhythm guitar playing is acknowledged by his many fans and countless colleagues (he has no peers) to be as good as anyone who ever picked a guitar. Surrounded by sons Ronnie (on mandolin) and Rob (on banjo), multiple award winners themselves, perhaps the most exciting thing about McCoury is, that while firmly rooted in and connected to the very beginnings of bluegrass music, he continues to reach out for new musical ideas. He has pioneered in joining with bands like The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, The Lee Brothers, and Phish to perform an astounding range of music. He is currently touring with mandolin innovator David Grisman, whom he first met at a concert promoted by Ralph Rinzler at New York University in 1963 while playing with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. A truly remarkable musical career. In this performance at Palatka, veteran fiddler Steve Thomas filled in with rich and deep experience for the vacationing Jason Carter. 

Del McCoury

Rob McCoury

Ron McCoury

Alan Bartram

Steve Thomas

Rob & Ron McCoury


It's hard to imagine a better day than this opening day of the Palatka Bluegrass Festival, but there are still two more to come. I'll be covering them in detail over the next few days. Stop back and enjoy!

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