Monday, January 15, 2018

Palatka Bluegrass Festival - Rodeheaver Boys Ranch - February 15 - 17, 2018

The Fourteenth Annual Spring Palatka Bluegrass Festival will run at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, just South of Palatka, FL from February 15 - 18, 2018. Promoted by Adams Bluegrass for the benefit of the Boys Ranch, this festival has become the largest and, arguably, the best bluegrass festival held during the Florida season. This year's iteration boasts the best bluegrass lineup yet, featuring the top bands in bluegrass, some old favorites, and a few up-and-comers. There is always camping space available as well as motel accommodations nearby and offerings from Airbnb. You can download and print the complete flyer here.

This year's  edition of the Palatka Bluegrass Festival features six, count them, five bands that have been named as  IBMA Entertainer of the Year and five that have been Vocal Group of the Year: The Gibson Brothers, Dailey & Vincent, The Earls of Leicester, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, Balsam Range, Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, and Flatt Lonesome. Rarely does a festival lineup represent so much pure musical and entertainment power. Here's the Lineup:

The Gibson Brothers (Fri & Sat)

The last eight Gibson Brothers CD's have reached and spent months at the top of the Bluegrass Unlimited charts. Their song writing, singing, and between the songs brotherly humor has become known from coast to coast as well as across the pond. This year they will be appearing at every Norman Adams festival, carving out a unique and special role. 

My Quiet Mind

Jerry Douglas & the Earls of Leicester (90 Minute Show, Sat)

Jerry Douglas & the Earls of Leicester play Flatt & Scruggs the way it sounded over fifty years ago with the advantage of having modern sound systems to reach out to any audience. Composed of some of Nashville's finest and most successful musicians, they've been IBMA Entertainer of the Year for past three years. 

Dailey & Vincent (90 Minute Show, Fri)

With their fast-paced, high concept mixture of traditional bluegrass, gospel music, and patriotic fervor, Dailey & Vincent have revolutionized bluegrass, bringing it to new audiences in arts centers, auditoriums, and stadiums across the country. They've been a favorite at Palatka since the year they first appeared. 
Unsung Heroes

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage (Thu)

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage have been Palatka favorites since the beginning, too. Rhonda brings her characteristic energy, charisma, and willingness to stay at her merchandise table until the last fan has had at least a few moments of her time is legendary. She's one of the hardest working and best loved musicians in bluegrass. Her band is strong at every position, filled with pickers who are names on their own. 

Just a Closer Walk with Thee

Balsam Range (Fri)

Balsam Range has specialized in bringing big sound, a wall of sound, to the bluegrass stage. With four singers, they can create huge versatility with music ranging from classic bluegrass to bluegrass versions of southern rock along with deeply felt gospel music. Their stage show adds to the fun.

Burning Georgia Down

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (Fri)

Touring hard and singing great has characterized Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out for more than twenty-five years. One of the great musical ensembles in bluegrass history, they've maintained touch with tradition while adding new dimensions and great songs to the bluegrass vocabulary. Russell Moore continues to exhibit one of the great all-time voices. 

Gentle On My Mind

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers (Thu)

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers come by their name honestly, as Joe's father built a network of radio stations in the Dayton/Cincinnati area of south central Ohio, where large numbers of refugees from Appalachia settled to find industrial work. His band brings traditional bluegrass with classic Scruggs style banjo and first rate singing to the stage and is welcome wherever they go. Joe is also serving a term as Chairman of the IBMA Board of Directors. 

Now, The Summer's Gone

Flatt Lonesome (Th)
Charli Robertson

Flatt Lonesome has come a long way since we first saw them fresh out of  Callahan Florida at Newell Lodge, a small venue in the piney woods of South Georgia just a few miles north of their home. They've been recognized for their singing at IBMA and have developed a national reputation while working hard to develop greater versatility and continually raise their quality. 

You're The One

Dry Branch Fire Squad (Fri & Sat)

Ron Thomason is bluegrass music's resident humorist in the style of the great Will Rogers or perhaps Garrison Keillor. He claims he can't tell a joke, but he sure can tell funny stories with a hook that gets a listener thinking as well as laughing. Ron's professional career started as a Clinch Mountain Boy with Ralph Stanley and went downhill from there. Dry Branch Fire Squad has merely been singing its unique brand of raw early bluegrass and old-time music while providing a strong backdrop for Thomason's story telling for over forty years. They'll be at Palatka for four sets t his year. 

Fifty Miles of Elbow Room (with Intro)

The Little Roy & Lizzy Show (Sat)

With the recent passing of Miggie Lewis, Little Roy is the last performing member of the Lewis Family Band that came to prominence as a gospel band based in Georgia beginning in 1951 at a Woodmen of the World meeting. They recorded and appeared on television in Augusta. They started extensive touring in the early sixties, with Little Roy bringing his baggy pants comedy, harkening back to vaudeville days, to their upbeat gospel performances. Lizzy Long, Little Roy's adopted daughter, has been performing with him as his foil and protege for about fifteen years. The Lewis Family was inducted into the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame in 2006.

Dueling Banjos

The Moron Brothers (Sat)

The Moron Brothers, an unfortunate name for these more enlightened times, bring a more deadpan kind of humor to bluegrass festivals everywhere. There songs, many of which they write, reflect the stereotype of the Hillbilly with a wry twist that shows them clearly making fun of themselves and the stereotype. Enjoy their wit and wisdom!

Uncle Ben Swallowed His Teeth

The Bluegrass Brothers (Thu)

In many ways, The Bluegrass Brothers are a bluegrass picker's dream. They sing traditional bluegrass with lusty good humor and sincere emotion, reflecting their Virginia rural upbringing and solid professionalism, developed over the years. Legend has it they emerged from family jams and their popularity spread after they composed a campaign theme song for the gubernatorial run of Mark Warner. Their enthusiastic good humor is popular at many festivals. 

Hector Brown

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road (Fri)

Lorraine Jordan comes from the North Carolina lowlands in the eastern part of the state. She has carefully built her band as a traditional one, with Josh Goforth on guitar and Benny Greene on guitar helping lead the way. She has indefatigably worked to raise funds for needy musicians. As a founder of the Ladies of Bluegrass, she has worked to see that women grassers receive recognition for their excellence. Her album won a Recorded Event of the Year award from IBMA. More recently, she has recognized and developed the relationship between country music and bluegrass, releasing an album with several country music greats that emphasized what she re-named Country Grass. 

Boogie Grass Band

Amanda Cook & Kennesaw Ridge (Sat)

Amanda Cook has been developing her band for about ten years, starting as a traditional bluegrass band with her Dad in Florida and moving towards the country/pop end of bluegrass, as her web site indicates. This is her first performance at Palatka and the first time we seen her in several years, so I look forward to her shows. 

One Stop Along the Road

Penny Creek (Fri)

Penny Creek, from Melbourne FL, has been forging a regional reputation at festivals and in local venues for several years. Band leader Susan Garrett Pounds has worked ceaselessly and successfully to build the quality and range of her band. The addition of Chris Paganoni on Guitar and vocals and Fritz Kraemer of mandolin and vocals has strengthened the band. I look forward to hearing the latest member, John Apfelthaler on banjo. Penny Creek is a good story of a serious local band continuing to work and develop. 

No Words to Describe

The Details:

Rodeheaver Boys Ranch

It's completely fitting that Rodeheaver Boys Ranch should host a major bluegrass festival as one of its fund-raising activities. Homer Rodeheaver, a famous evangelist, served as music director for evangelist Billy Sunday as well as having as significant career as a writer of gospel music, band leader, and music publisher. He founded the Ranch in 1950 as a home for abandoned and abused boys. The mission has remained much the same through the decades, as the Ranch provides a haven for boys who cannot, for one reason or another, live at home. About fifty boys live on the ranch in homelike settings with house parents. They attend local public schools and do chores on the Ranch. During the festival they are much in evidence, working and listening to the music. A new museum near the performance shed tells the story of Homer Rodeheaver and the Ranch he founded. 

The campground pictured below was built to accommodate an almost unlimited number of RV's with water and electric hookups. Honey wagons are available for pump-out, when needed.  Camping sites must be arranged through the ranch, and are separate from the price of tickets. 

Campsites: Call the Boys Ranch at (386) 328-1281 - There's plenty of overflow non-hookup space if the hookups are sold out. 

Additional Accommodations are available nearby. Here's a link to them

The snack bar and gift shop are located directly behind the performance shed. Hot dogs, hamburgers, home-baked cookies and brownies, and the best Brunswick Stew you ever tasted are sold at the snack bar, while the gift shop features souvenirs and sponsors an annual used book sale. A vendors area stands to the side with additional food and craft vendors. 

The performance shed provides a covered venue that accommodates the crowd, protecting them from adverse weather, when it occurs. 


You can order tickets online here or call at (706)864-7203. There is reserved seating under the Pavilion, and some reserve seats may be available. 

Additional Helpful Information

How to Get to the Palatka Bluegrass Festival 
Click on the Map Below
Put your name in the O space & click

The Palatka Bluegrass Festival is one of the finest festivals in the southeast, a gem for a winter festival. Supporting a worthy cause and run in a first rate, professional manner by Norman Adams, a legendary bluegrass promoter and the staff and boys of the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, this is a must attend event. See you there!

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