Friday, January 31, 2020

Florida Bluegrass Classic - Brooksville, FL - Feb. 17 - 23, 2020

Enjoy Great Music
Covered Outdoor Comfort

The Florida Bluegrass Classic has a long history dating back to its early years at Dixieland RV Park in that famous Florida speed trap, Waldo, FL, which Ernie Evans took over in 2013, just as it was about to go broke. Over a period of three or four years, he resuscitated the event, even as the park continued to deteriorate, no longer able to handle the size crowds that were attracted despite being plagued with poor drainage and limited space. As a result, a search ensued and the Florida Classic Park, heretofore primarily the site of numerous dog shows and a Native American pow-wow, emerged. Set on a 50 acre site with a covered pavilion, over 250 RV sites with electric and water, and close to the necessary support systems, The Florida Bluegrass Classic was born five years ago. As the festival has developed, it's lineup, and the nature of the crowd it attracts has become increasingly varied and interesting. This year's lineup promises to offer a range of music from traditional bluegrass through classic country, to the Atlantic City style 1960's pop. Come to this event to enjoy the music, the fellowship, and the warmth of people coming together for a good time of music and fellowship.

The Lineup
in order of appearance - not repeated
Brian Smalley

Brian Smalley will be appearing on Tuesday evening for early-bird campers and ticket holders from the Brooksville region who come over for the evening. His music has been described thus, "Brian has borrowed from folksy flatpick guitar and new-grass as well as a touch of new-age acoustic music. He sings with a soulful, earthy yet energetic voice and his live performances tend to be just that: Lively! For the past eighteen years Brian has made music his sole occupation," These Tuesday shows always offer something new for most of the attendees, often exciting, but always interesting. If you can get to campground early, this show will be a good bet. 

Brian Smalley in Performance

Rodney Parker Hosts Open Mic

Rodney Parker will host Wednesday evening's open mic as well as sing a few tunes with the pick-up country band to be assembled for that purpose. A part of the EMS production team, be sure to say "Hello" and get to know him. 
Tuesday Open Mic

Sandy Back Porch

The Sandy Back Porch band comes from the central Florida, Orlando area of the state where they play classic bluegrass and country tunes, enjoy covering Johnny Cash/June Carter Cash duets, as well as having special purpose programs for Christmas and gospel music audiences. Look for a lively, hard-working band. 

Sandy Back Porch - Folsom Prison Blues

Justin Mason & Blue Night

Justin Mason has been a growing presence in Florida Bluegrass as a member of his family's band and now the name member of his own band, on the road, now, for about a year. Justin is an acute viewer of the bluegrass scene as well as a thoughtful analyst of the music itself. His hard work assisting with Evans Media Source festivals in a range of roles has helped him continue his development as both a band member and the band leader of Justin Mason & Blue Night This will our first view of this band, and we're looking forward to it. 

Justin Mason & Blue Night - 2019 Recap

Johnny Counterfit

The name Johnny Counterfit may give you a hint of what you're in for with this show on Thursday, the opening day of music at the Florida Bluegrass Classic, but there's very little information available on the Internet about this music impersonator/comedian. The Sneak Preview below should give you a hint about why you won't want to miss the first day of this three day musical event. 

Johnny Counterfit - Sneak Preview

David Church

David Church has had a long career in country music, with many years as a cast member on RFD-TV's Midwest Country program. According to his web site, "featured for over seven years."  Performing along with his wife Terri Lisa specializing in covering Hank Williams tunes while also presenting a range of country and bluegrass tunes. His web site emphasizes his and Terri's strong patriotism and their commit to featuring American made products on their merchandise table. 

David Church - Compilation

Remedy Tree

While primarily an inventive, exciting bluegrass band from Florida, centered in St. Augustine, Remedy Tree has appeared on The Blue Plate Special at WDVX, the prestigious roots FM radio station in Knoxville, TN. The band bills itself as "North Florida's progressive acoustic music band," but it sounds like a very good modern band to me. I'm ready to really enjoy this band as a good representative for this change-of-pace festival setting. 

Remedy Tree - All Along

Zink & Company

Corey Zink has recently moved from his home in Massachusetts to become a featured cast member at Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, TN. Currently, on hiatus from Dollywood, he is touring with his band, featuring Jesse Brock on mandolin. The band also includes Joe Menzone, a fine banjo player from Connecticut and John Roc, from Massachusetts. For those who ask, "Do ya'll have bluegrass music up there?" the answer will be right in front of you with Corey's fine baritone voice, his song-writing, and his able band. Zink & Company

Zink & Company - 1940 Ford

Keith Bass and the Florida Bluegrass Express

Keith Bass

People often think of Florida in terms of citrus fruit and retirement housing, but Florida also ranks twelfth in the nation in number of ranches and head of cattle, according to one source. Keith Bass, in addition to being a first rate regional band leader, is a real cowboy, a ranch manager by vocation. Florida Bluebgrass express is a popular regional band that you'll enjoy. 

Keith Bass & Florida Bluegrass Express - I Loved 'Em Every One

Teea Goans

We first saw Teea Goans at the legendary Music City Roots in Nashille, about ten years ago. At that time she was a pleasant, but not yet seasoned country performer. My how times have changed! Goans has matured into a fine singer as evidenced by the video below. She has released four albums as well as being a featured cast member on RFD's "Country Family Reunion" and "Larry's Country Diner. Her promo material emphasizes her deep connections to traditional country music. 
Teea Goans - I Didn't Mean to Love You

The Atlantic City Boys

The Atlantic City Boys return to the Bluegrass Classic by popular demand with their high energy, audience-centered, Las Vegas style show featuring music a la Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons. Join the fun for this fine show which, at first, might seem out of place, but quickly finds its groove with the Bluegrass Classic crowd. 

The Atlantic City Boys - Official Promo

Kenny & Amanda Smith

Kenny Smith,  awarded IBMA Guitar Player of the Year and his wife Amanda, a Female Vocalist of the Year, team up as a tuneful duo presenting a range of bluegrass and ballad singing with impeccable picking and singing. Theirs is a love story that has inspired bluegrass fans for more than a decade as they have toured together. The warmth of their musicality and their relationship comes through with every note. 

Kenny & Amanda Smith - A Heart That Will Never Break Again

The Grascals

The Grascals began life as the house band in the Nashville's fabled Station Inn in 2004. Their lineage is so deep that bassist Terry Smith grew up working on Bill Monroe's farm. The band also toured with Dolly Parton for several years. While only two of the original members (Terry Smith and Danny Roberts) remain, the band continues to add fine new members. Kristin Scott Benson on Banjo has been named IBMA banjo player of the year five times, while the band itself has won multiple awards and nominations from IBMA, SPGMA, the Grammy's, and more. While retaining their allegiance to The Osborne Brothers and Jimmy Martin, their songs written from within the band continue to attract attention. Harley Allen's great song "Haggard,"  (below) currently tops the Bluegrass Unlimited charts. 

The Grascals - Haggard

Nothin Fancy

Nothin' Fancy has been entertaining bluegrass audiences for over twenty-five years with their combination of humor and very good pickin' and singin' bluegrass style. Leader Mike Andes continues to write strong songs, while adding a new generation of traditional music with the Cox brothers, Caleb, also a fine writer, and James. Chris Sexton, on fiddle brings the seriousness of a classically trained violinist to the often silly clowning to create a delightful mixture, which fans across the country and abroad continue to find enjoyable and interesting. Good fun!

Nothin' Fancy - Every Now and Then

Doug Stone

Doug Stone is primarily a baritone, ballad singer, working in the neotraditional country sound. He debuted in  1990 with a self-titled album. The single "I'd Be Better Off (In a Pine Box) spent twenty-six weeks on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart, topping at #4. He has released thirteen albums as well as the same number of videos, and has been featured in one film. During his career, Stone has had six #1 singles. Recently, Doug Stone has toured in a "Reliving the 90's Tour" Look for an enjoyable dish of country nostalgia. 

Doug Stone - I'd Be Better Off (In a Pine Box)

Jo Odum - MC

Jo Odum, a retired Georgia English teacher (but don't tell anyone) is a deeply experienced, knowledgable, and professional stage mistress of ceremonies at many Evans Media Source events in Florida and Georgia. She keeps events running smoothly, reminds the audience of upcoming events, points out the valuable contributions of the food and craft vendors, and maintains loose but effective order. Make sure you get to know her.

Ted Lehmann's Florida Bluegrass Classic Playlist
This is a Spotify Playlist for you to Sample More of the Artists' Work

The Details

In order to plan your time at the Bluegrass Classic, click for the Complete Schedule

Classic Car Show - Saturday Morning

Food Vendors

A variety of food and craft vendors supply food and some festival shopping delights.

Tickets: Tickets to the Florida Bluegrass Classic cost:

Thursday - $25.00
Friday - $30.00
Saturday - $35.00
Weekend Pass - $85.00

RV Camping

Camping: The Florida Bluegrass Classic is held on a large plot used for a variety of events within a few miles of Brooksville, FL  near exit 301 of I-75 heading west to Lockhart Rd. The site is topped by a covered building where most activities are held. The expansive campground has over 250 RV sites with electric and water as well as bathroom facilities with flush toilets and hot water. Camping Rates are:

30 Amp Electric - $27.00
50 Amp Electric - $32.00
Dump Station: Free
There is a three night minimum for campers.

Rough Camping

To Obtain Tickets or Camping Reservation: Call (386) 385-3500

Bring Your Own Seat - No High Back Seats!

Location: The Florida Bluegrass Class is located at the Florida Classic Park. Here's the address:

Florida Classic Park, Inc.

5360 Lockhart Rd

Brooksville, FL 34602

Ernie Evans

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Palatka Bluegrass Festival - February 13 - 15, 2020 - Rodeheaver Boys Ranch

The 16th annual Palatka Bluegrass Festival, held at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch in Palatka, Fl will run from February 13 - 15, 2020 with the gates opening for campers on Sunday, February 9th. Ernie and Deb Evans and their Evans Media Source have acquired Norman Adams festivals. Although Norman and Judy have retired, look for them at Palatka and thank them for their many years of providing high quality bluegrass festivals.  The changeover has been smooth and festival attendees can expect a high degree of continuity as the transition continues.

The Lineup
In order of appearance - Repeat Bands Only Mentioned Once

Springfield Exit

Springfield Exit was originally a Virginia-based band, coming from near Winchester. Composed of bluegrass veterans David McClaughlin, Tom Adams, and Marshall Wilborn,  formerly members of the well-remembered and revered Johnson Mountain Boys, the band highlights Linda Lay's terrific voice along with husband David, who have recently located to a new farm in northeastern Tennessee. You can count on first rate traditional bluegrass from these veteran performers who have performed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and opened for Merle Haggard. 

The Primitive Quartet

The Primitive Quartet has been touring the country with its bluegrass southern gospel music for nearly fifty years. Traveling nearly fifty thousand miles a year, performing around one hundred and fifty dates in churches, festivals, and southern gospel conventions. They have been regulars at Norman Adams festivals. 

The Primitive Quartet - When I Get Home

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers were named International Bluegrass Music Association's 2019 Entertainers of the Year at it's annual awards show in Raleigh, NC last September. Their hard work and cheerful adherence to traditional bluegrass music as well as Mullins' Scruggs Style banjo play earned them the honor after years of hard touring by this Southern Ohio-based band. Mullins, the son of radio tycoon and former performer Paul (Moon) Mullins, Joe is also a well-regarded radio personality and station owner in the region. He also currently serves as IBMA's Chairman of the Board. They always present a well-crafted, musical, enjoyable show. 

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley

Take three of Nashville's most talented, rewarded singer/songwriter/performers and put them on three stools at anywhere from the Bluebird Cafe in Music City to a dusty, tent on the bluegrass trail. Next, invite them to sing and play their own best songs like long time friends sitting around the living room reminiscing, and what do you have? Magic. I can't count the number of Grammy Awards, IBMA, and Dove statues they have between them, but I can guarantee you'll have a wonderful time as they roam through their catalogs telling stories while giving the audience lots of insight into writing and performing. Cordle, Jackson, and Salley can't be beat!

Cordle, Jackson & Salley - Black Diamond Strings

The Malpass Brothers

The Malpass Brothers were a country music duo singing covers of classic country singers while looking for an audience...and then they found bluegrass festivals. The rest is history. With their full country band, including often derided (in bluegrass musc) a drum kit and pedal steel, they have captured bluegrass audiences with their charm, humor, and remarkably sound-alike vocals across the country. Always popular and welcome, their audience has swelled as their confidence has grown. 

Malpass Brothers - Saginaw Michigan

Bandana Rhythm
Nathan Stewart

Rachel Stewart

While only on their second year of touring at bluegrass festivals, Bandana Rhythm has become a popular and winning feature at Ernie Evans festivals while spreading their wings and developing as a fine musical duo augmernted by Rachel's two brothers. Nathan Stewart will be a familiar face to many as the former mandolin player for the Little Roy and Lizzy Show. Make sure you take part of your day to welcome this band and enjoy their show. 

Bandana Rhythm - There Is A Time

Dry Branch Fire Squad

Dry Branch Fire squad has been a feature at Palatka since the beginning, as they have been at festivals like Gettysburg, Strawberry Park, and Grey Fox for many years. Band leader Ron Thomason, who began his professional career with Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys nearly fifty years ago, hasn't stoped singing in the old time way while commenting on the contemporary world with humor and gusto. 

Dry Branch Fire Squad - Fifty Miles of Elbow Room

Penny Creek Band

Penny Creek, based in Melbourne, FL began its musical journey, like many flourishing bands do, playing in bars and fast food joints along Florida's east coast near Melbourne. Through dint of hard work and judicious additions to their personel, they have continued to spread their wings while strengthening their performances. Now, while they retain their Florida roots, audiences around the country are beginning to realize that Florida produces fine bluegrass music. This band wins audiences with its fine selection bluegrass standards and music written from within. Be sure to see them!

Penny Creek - Sunny Side of the Mountain

The Gibson Brothers

I've been writing about The Gibson Brothers for nearly twenty years, now. We first heard them at the Jenny Brook Festival in Vermont, finding ourselves entranced with their song writing, their great vocal blend, and their charm. None of that has slipped as they continue to broaden their repertory, always adding new material while finding new audiences through releasing a country album which uniquely complements their bluegrass. At Palatka, you'll be hearing the Gibson Brothers bluegrass band, and maybe a few of their country offerings, too. With the addition of noted instrumentalist Justin Moses to their band, they have continued to develop a wider range, while always staying uniquely themselves. 

The Gibson Brothers - Fireball

Jimmy Fortune - One Long Set

Jimmy Fortune, long a central voice in the storied Statler Brothers, now tours as a solo act featuring many of his songs known by music lovers around the world. I don't know what configuration he'll have with him at Palatka, but you can bet on his voice delivering songs you have treasured for a generation.  Pure nostalgia!

Jimmy Fortune - Elizabeth

Bluegrass Gospel Sing & Jam

Born Lonesome

Born Lonesome is a new Florida-based band bringing together a group of pickers who are familiar in a variety of settings, but not together as a band. Formed in March of 2019, the band has rapidly picked up steam as they've been heard at local events as well as the Sertoma Thanksgiving Festival. The link above contains a full performance from an Artist Showcase on WMNF, a non-commercial FM radio station located in Tampa. They are rapidly getting their name out within Florida, and will soon be heard in much wider circles. Palatka will be their first national festival, so you can say, "I heard them when....."

Born Lonesome - Apalachee Sky

The Little Roy & Lizzy Show

Little Roy Lewis has been entertaining audiences for over sixty years since he made his debut with the fabled gospel band, The Lewis Family. Now he's been sharing the stage with the talented multi-instrumentalist Lizzy Long for over a decade. Fans will relish hearing again their well-known songs and seeing their routines. I've long viewed them as an important and delightful tie to bluegrass history and its sawdust and vaudeville roots. Little Roy is a national treasure!

Little Roy & Lizzie Show - Travelin On

Lonesome River Band

Some bands are well enough known that their initials suffice to let you know they're coming to a festival near you. LRB has been offering its unique rock-inflected bluegrass to audiences around the world since the 1980's. A look at the list of the names of former members of the band indicates how widely their influence has been felt, and how enduring their sound is. Banjo player Sammy Shelor is known as one of the most important banjo players in the business, as indicated by his IBMA awards as well as his having won the coveted Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass. The band has maintained its standard of excellence.

Lonesome River Band - Little Magnolia

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage

Rhonda Vincent has remained a significant draw at bluegrass festivals for at least three decades. She and her band tour widely and have consistently performed at well over a hundred events each year. She is known for her talent and her hard work. At the merchandise table, fans are rewarded with a real sense that they are important to her, as she stays out until the line has finished, providing autographs and pictures while greeting old fans by name and always evincing an interest in each person who has stood in line for picture or a brief word from her. Along with her voice and consistently ourtstanding bandsmanship, she has become one of the most honored and recognized personalities in bluegrass. Rhonda's a fitting person to close the show for another year. 

Rhonda Vincent - Momma Tried

My Spotify Playlist for Palatka 2020

The Details
The Palatka Bluegrass Festival is held as a benefit for the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch, founded in 1950 by evangelist and band leader Homer Rodeaheaver on a large site about fifteen miles south of Palatka, FL along the St. Johns River. Take a look at the Ranch's Web Site for further information about this worthy cause. The Ranch site includes over 500 campsites with electric and water hookups. A local contractor is available to provide pumpouts. A shower room and flush toilets are available along with freqently cleaned and well-placed porta-potties. There are usually campsites availble. For informaiton call: 386-328-1281,

Photo by Kevin Beverly

Tickets and More Information: Palatka has been the largest and most popular traditional bluegrass festival in Florida since its founding sixteen years ago. The festival has a reserve seat policy and most of those slots are held by returning fans. Nevertheless, there's excellent sound no matter where you sit, provided by BlueRidge Sound and video screens help people sitting in remote seats to see as well as hear. There are no  reservations on having fun at Palatka, though. Furthermore, bluegrass customs allow fans to sit in open seats anywhere. When the seat's owner returns, they'll indicate you are sitting in their chair. You should move immediately to another location. Bluegrass people are pleasant and generous, and there's no actual implied or felt ill feeling for your having occupied someone else's seat. So come and enjoy the show, and pre-order your next year's ticket so you can move up the ladder. Ticket prices and further festival informaton can be found here. EMS is a family run business which is extremely customer friendly. For tickets, seats, and additional information, call Deb at (386) 385-3500.

Emcee Sherry Boyd

Sherry Boyd will be keeping events moving (and on time) throughout the festival. One of the most experienced, capable, and popular emcees on the bluegrass circuit, make sure to introduce yourself to her sometime during the weekend. 

John Holder and Blue Ridge Sound

Blue Ridge Sound, one of the best sound companies anywhere, knows bluegrass music and presents it at its best. President and founder John Holder's crew will be providing excellent sound this season.  Count on hearing the music the way it should sound at any festival where they are present. 

Evans Media Source
Ernie Evans

Deb Evans

A look at the Evans Media Source Home Page tells the story of a large "full service production company" promoting festivals, concerts, and cruises along with providing music for weddings, presenting a weekly radio program, and putting together shows for a range of other sponsor organizations. But the story goes back to a young musician from Ohio who became a working musician playing country and bluegrass music around the country and a good piece of the rest of the world, too. Responsible for a growing family, he reluctantly left full-time music to go into the corporate world. After moving to Florida, Ernie began dipping his feet into playing music as well as promoting events along with his wife Deb. Then along came the recession of 2006, when Ernie found himself without a job. In order to support his family, he returned to full-time touring with bluegrass bands along with the regional band he and Deb had formed in Florida. 

The rest of the story is about a hard working couple with a growing family struggling together to rescue, build, and grow new events, while developing new skills as they learned how to host a radio program, organize, and promote events. They know the struggles of working people and that both bluegrass and country music are hard working people's music. Throughout their growth period and continuing even today, they have striven to bring great live music to people who love and appreciate it. Their recent acquisition of Norman Adams festivals has brought them into national attention as major promoters in the southeast. Let them know how much you appreciate theirhard work.