Monday, January 31, 2011

Palatka Bluegrass Festival - Rodehever Boys Ranch - Preview


The seventh annual Palatka Bluegrass Festival will begin at noon on Thursday, February 17th and run through Saturday evening the 19th.  This Adams & Anderson festival held on the campus of the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch about fifteen miles south of Palatka has been an artistic success for A & A and contributed significantly to the efforts of the Ranch, founded by evangelist Homer Rodeheaver on 600 acres since 1950.  The Palatka Bluegrass Festival is one of the Ranch's most significant fund raising efforts, so those attending will not only be hearing some of the finest in traditional bluegrass music, but will be making significant contributions to the boys' ranch.  While Irene and I won't be there to enjoy the fun this year, the first time we've missed since the 2nd festival, the event will have the usual professionalism of an Adams & Anderson festival along with the enthusiastic work of the boys and ranch staff to provide a very customer friendly three days. 

 Norman & Judy Adams

The Ranch Dining Room

When the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch decided to host a bluegrass festival to raise funds, they decided to do it right.  They put in what has now become over 400 water & electric camping sites, built a large, covered pavilion, hiring Adams & Anderson to promote the festival.  Since then, Palatka has grown steadily, becoming the premier bluegrass event in Florida.  The campground fills early, officially opening on the Monday before the festival begins. Here's a map of the grounds. In addition to the well-hardened sites, space for rough camping seems nearly unlimited. Pump-outs are available.  Hot showers and flush toilets are attached to the music shed;  portable toilets are plentiful and frequently cleaned. 

Snack Bar & Pavilion

 The pavilion is long and a little narrow with roll-down plastic siding to reduce the effects of the sometimes chilly weather found in north Florida during February.  Large gas space heaters help to alleviate the chill.  A large canvas floor keeps the ground from becoming too trampled.  Video screens improve visibility from the rear of the music pavilion.  Sound, provided by Gene Daniell is always excellent.  Those wishing prime seating in the music shed should arrive by early Tuesday to use the seating policy to their advantage.  Here's the policy as presented in the Palatka announcenment on line: "Chair Policy:  Chair placement numbers may be picked up beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday.  You will only be allowed to place chairs for the number of  three-day tickets purchased. Chairs may be placed in the concert area at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 15th.  You must line up in numerical order near the pavilion."  This procedure has been refined annually, but has resulted in an orderly process.  Some people begin lining up on Monday night to be first in line to get seating numbers.

Sherry Boyd
Breakfast Buffet

Ranch Gift Shop

Emcee Sherry Boyd keeps the even moving along in style and rarely allows the festival to run behind time.  A range of food vendors supplement the meals served by the Ranch in their comfortable and spacious dining room.  Buffet breakfasts are large, tasty, and reasonably priced.  The Ranch also serves hamburgers and hot dogs from a large snack bar/gift shop directly behind the shed.  Other vendors assure a pretty wide variety of food choices as well as the usual instrument, CD, flag, clothing, and other festival oriented merchandise.

Dailey & Vincent Gospel Quartet

The Lineup

Adams and Anderson festivals offer a strong lineup of contemporary and classic performers.  Musicians like Doyle Lawson, Little Roy Lewis, Greg Cahill, and Ron Thomason represent a tradition going back nearly fifty years in bluegrass music.  Meanwhile, Tim Shelton & New Found Road, Dailey & Vincent, The Expedition Show, and the U.S. Navy Bluegrass Band bring a more contemporary bluegrass sound.  Darin & Brooke Aldridge as well as Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa are welcome newcomers to the lineup, bringing fresh new sounds and energy to the mixture.  There's something for nearly everyone at Palatka.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Tim Shelton (New Found Road)
 Wayne Taylor

  Greg Cahill (Special Consensus)
Thursday, February 17th
Newfound Road - 12:00 noon and 3:45 p.m.
The Easter Brothers - 12:45 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
Darin & Brooke Aldridge - 1:30 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.
Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa - 2:15 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
The Special Consensus - 3:00 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.
Dailey & Vincent - 8:30 p.m. (one 90 minute show)
Dailey & Vincent
 U.S. Navy Bluegrass Band (Country Current)
Ron Thomason (Dry Branch Fire Squad)
Doyle Lawson
 Kimberly & Blake Williams (The Expedition Show)

Friday, February 18th
Goldwing Express - 12:00 noon and 5:30 p.m.
The US Navy Bluegrass Band/Country Current - 12:50 p.m. and 6:20 p.m.
Dry Branch Fire Squad - 1:40 p.m. and 7:10 p.m.
Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver - 2:30 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
The Expedition Show - 3:30 p.m. and 9:00 p.m.

The Crowe Brothers

 Chris Jones & The Night Drivers
Little Roy Lewis

Lizzie Long

Randy Waller & The Country Gentlemen
Saturday, February 19th
The Crowe Brothers - 12:00 noon and 5:30 p.m.
Chris Jones & The Night Drivers - 12:45 p.m. and 6:15 p.m.
The Little Roy & Lizzy Show - 1:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Dry Branch Fire Squad - 2:15 p.m. and 7:45 p.m.
The US Navy Bluegrass Band/Country: Current 3:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
Randy Waller & The Country Gentlemen - 3:45 p.m. and 9:15 p.m.

Getting to Palatka

Irene and I are particularly sad to be missing Palatka this year.  When we first attended the second festival, we were newcomers to the Florida circuit.  Since then, many of the people we've come to know have become friends we look forward to seeing at Palatka and other places during the year.  This festival has become widely known as a good one for jammers and for top level music.  The staff of the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, ram-rodded by Ranch Director of Development Jeff King, is well-organized to provide welcoming service and assistance to attendees.  While other well-established festivals in Florida have been forced to close recent years, Palatka remains an excellent choice for those wishing to attend a first rate event. Tickerts may still be ordered on line until February 7th or purchased at the gate.

Joe Booher (New Found Road)

Emory Lester (Wayne Taylor & Appaloosa)

Dry Branch Fire Squad

Chris Jones

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