Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Sertoma Bluegrass Festival March 23 - 26 - Preview

The Sertoma Spring Bluegrass Festival will run from March 23 - March 26 at the Sertoma Boys Ranch at 85 Myers Road in Brooksville, FL. Founded in 1977 and now the oldest bluegrass festival in the southeast, the festival is a benefit for the Sertoma Youth Ranchwhich is a project of the local Sertoma (for an interesting history of the club, look here), which has benefited people for over 100 years with an emphasis on services to the deaf and hard of hearing. Ernie and Debi Evans were asked to assume the festival five years ago when it looked like it would go under. Since then, they have built the event and the lineup to the point where, this year, it has a strong, varied, and entertaining range of bluegrass bands including two of the top groups in the nation in Blue Highway and Balsam Range.  There's still time to arrange to come to this fine event.

The Lineup:
Blue Highway
Shaun Lane, Jason Burleson, Wayne Taylor, Tim Shelton

Over the past twenty-three years, Blue Highway has released thirteen CD's with almost all the songs on them being originals written from within the band with songs from the prolific composers Tim Shelton, Shaun Lane, and Wayne Taylor. During that time, they have maintained a remarably consistent lineup, having lost only Rob Ickes on Dobro a couple of years ago. Now, after what appears to have been an easy transition, young Gaven Largent has brought his own resonator guitar vibe to the band in an almost seamless transition. Their most recent CD, Original Traditional received a 2017 Grammy nomination.

Gaven Largent

Balsam Range
Buddy Melton

Balsam Range has such breadth of talent and range of subject matter that it almost boggles the mind. From factory songs to Allman Brothers and Jim Croce covers mixing bluegrass, country and rock with gospel, they get it right with varied singing and first rate picking. Balsam Range is Haywood County North Carolina's gift to bluegrass music, and we're all grateful. Buddy Melton, whoplays fiddle and bass for the band, has a haunting tenor voice that transports with his "Blue Mountain" Darren Nicholson brings humor and surprising agility on the mandolin. Enjoy this too rare visit of a fine band to Florida.

Darren Nicholson

Nothin' Fancy
Mike Andess

Nothin' Fancy has released perhaps its best CD ever and continues to upgrade its performance style. The core of the band has been expanded by Caleb Cox, who brings instrumental versatility, vocal ability, and writing skill to the mix. Mike Andes continues to write and perform some excellent new songs. They haven't lost their sense of fun or humor. 
Caleb Cox

Darrell Webb Band

Darrell Webb has upped his game and his level of professionalism. The result is the kind of performances people have looked for from him for years. He's surrounded himself with strong musicians and keeps more of them with him through his leadership. There's never been any question about his musicianship or his singing. He put in a great preview set at Okeechobee a couple of months ago. 

Jared Hensley

Dave Adkins

Dave Adkins is one of the most dynamic performers in bluegrass and benefiting from the increased visibility of country music within the bluegrass scene. Recently he's had a couple of songs high in the charts with a new CD recently released. He's one of the most approachable and nicest people on the scene...genuine, warm and compassionate. When you get a chance, get to know him. Ask him about his rescue cats.

Deeper Shade of Blue
Troy Pope

A Deeper Shade of Blue is making its second trip to Florida in a month. This regional North Carolina band is truly extending its range, and its about time promoters and fans recognized its excellence. Troy Pope is a fine lead singer, while Jason Fraley plays excellent mandolin and sings well, too. The band is versatile and enjoyable, playing traditional bluegrass well. Furthermore, since there is plenty of willing writing taking place in the band and they choose new songs well, there's plenty of new stuff.

Jason Fraley

Paul Bryant & Kentucky Border

Paul Bryant is a bluegrass musician based in Ohio who's been in and around bluegrass most of his life. His new band, Kentucky Border has a CD out and is beginning to tour. We haven't seen the band you, but have high hopes for it. Want to get in on the ground floor?

Blue Cypress Bluegrass
Alan Rudd

Blue Cypress Bluegrass plays local gigs around its home in Vero Beach. They play first and second generation bluegrass covers with enthusiasm. They love watching their fans enjoying their music.

John Apfelthaler

South Country Classic
Ernie Evans

South Country Bluegrass is an electric country band singing classic bluegrass with verve and skill. It has a somewhat movable lineup of players, but it's anchored by Ernie Evans on electric guitar, multi-instrumentalist Dave O'Brien on pedal steel, with vocals by Sonya Stratton and others. This band is scheduled to perform on Thursday, but don't be too surprised if you see it at other times, too. The pedal steel sound from Dave O'Brien adds a very special sound to the stage.

Sonya Stratton

Dave O'Brien

 Emcee - Jo Odom

Greg Bird - Host and Karaoke

Jan Ladd - Sunday Gospel Sing

The Details

The Sertoma Spring Bluegrass Festival will be held at the Sertoma Youth Ranch, 85 Myers Road, Brooksville, FL on March 23 - 26, 2017 with the gates opening on Tuesday, March 21. The Ranch is located in a cool, shade covered live oak grove with plenty of water/electric hookups. There's a dump station provided and a toilet and shower building with loads of hot water. 

Shower Building

Tickets: For tickets and camping reservations, call (904) 886-8378
               Season Ticket:        $70.00
               Day Tickets:           $10.00/$30.00/$30.00
               Children 10 - 17     $10.00/day
               Children  9 & under    free
               Water & Electrics Hookups - $23.00/night     Rough Camping - $10.00/night
                You can see the Festival Flyer Here


The Ranch operates a snack bar featuring a range of foods from ice cream to hot dogs and hamburgers, fries and beyond. Procedes from the snack bar benefit the Ranch.

Too see a more detailed schedule, click here.

How to Get to Sertoma Youth Ranch
Click on the Map, then place you location in the O
and Click to make a personalized map.

The lineup and the crowd at Sertoma have kept growing in tandem. This is, by far, the best lineup Sertoma has had since we began going there. Support the festival and help it continue to grow. See you there!

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