What a great time we had at the 63rd annual Florida Folk Festival on Memorial Day weekend! This annual musical reunion takes place in White Springs at Stephen Foster State Park, along the banks of the Suwanee River. The weather couldn't have been more glorious, and headliner Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, back after many years, is just an exceptionally fine bunch of musicians. They were the perfect band to listen to on a breezy, zero-humidity (!) North Florida night. The iconic John McEuen had little to say, but when he did speak up, it was either erudite, hilarious, or both. Rumor has it that he will return next year and host some workshops, hoping sharing his amazing melodic banjo style, among other things.
Speaking of hilarity, the late night campground jams at Ranger Ron's along with Bari, Stan Gerberer, Tom Shedd, Mark Billman, David Beede, Clyde Walker and many more, were wonderful as usual. Most memorable moments were girls gone wild dancing on the table with literal taillights on their behinds, led by Cathy G, and Mindy Simmons' "Chocolate" improv with Dawn DeWitt, which led to late night caroling around the camps looking for chocolate handouts...
It was also a very special treat having Janet Rucker's lovely and talented daughter Maggie sing with Patchwork. She added a youthful exuberance to the band, along with those high harmonies she's been hearing since--well, before she was born!
Although the river level was low, the water was great, and the sulphur springs up by the old hotel basin, were absolutely gushing--it was really something to see--and smell! Capping off the weekend, my friend George Tortorelli treated me to a secret and delightful way to cool off, as the temperatures rose on Memorial Day afternoon.
Don't miss this magical event next year. It's the longest running folk festival in the country!
We're pleased as punch to finally be holding in our hands our third album, Patchwork On Track--and now you can too! It's out on CD, a group of original songs and covers that we never recorded before, compiled from a series of live performances around the state. There are recordings from concerts in Ocala, Sunday Samplers in Dunnellon, concerts on the Bo Diddley Plaza in Gainesville and Prairie Creek Lodge in Hawthorne. We have some great guest soloists as well, including David Cook on dobro and Jacob Lawson on violin. Check it out and hear samples at www.patchwork.us.
We had a great time at the Will McLean Festival, located amidst the orange groves at the Sertoma Boys Ranch. Driving up the dirt road to the ranch, I always roll down the windows so I can smell the heady fragrance of the orange blossoms. It puts me in a GREAT mood all week-end!
As I pulled up, I was greeted by my nephew-in-law who was reporting that their 5-year-old daughter was lost! Just ten minutes later, though, he came up and told me she'd been found and was just meeting up with her friends from last year so they could play in the playground and dance to the music on stage.
There are kids who go to this festival every year, growing up playing music with their family and friends, and eventually become performers there themselves. Once such group was the hit of the stage this year, Jubal's Kin. They are quite wonderful, very creative and excellent musicians, and they are proof of the ongoing legacy of Will McLean's Florida Folk movement! Check out their website as they are now touring around the state.
Some of the other highlights were: Doug Gauss showing up to play with Frank Thomas and the Roadside Revue, Patchwork girls singing onstage with Grant Livingston, Amy Carol Webb and Mindy Simmons, and Mindy's wonderful Saturday night set featuring a fabulous jazz pianist!
We had a great set Saturday night too, which included a lot of new material, and for which we received a standing O!! That gave us the chance to do our encore, a song that was co-written by Mindy and Grant! Unfortunately, she didn't get to hear it as she was playing somewhere else at the same time...
We are looking forward to playing back in our hometown for Gainesville's lovely annual Spring Arts Festival--we'll be at the Thomas Center Garden Stage at 3:00pm on Sunday April 10th. Hope to see you there! Otherwise, you'll have to drive to St. Augustine for the Gamble Rogers Festival May 1st, or to White Springs for the FFF on Memorial Day weekend!