Big Bass Bluegrass & BBQ in Florida

Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys at Big Bass Bluegrass & BBQ – photo © Bill Warren

Four or five years ago the city of Inverness, Florida decided to host a bass fishing tournament, which has been a successful event. Brothers Dale and CJ McClellan had a vision to expand the offerings at the tournament. The city council agreed with their ideas, and Big Bass Bluegrass & BBQ was born. The tournament has evolved to a free musical show on Saturday – tournament day – and a ticketed fundraiser on Friday night.

The Friday night fundraiser featured three of the show bands and lots of BBQ.

Saturday morning saw 88 boats take to the lake in search of the biggest bass. One thousand dollars was awarded each hour for that segment’s largest bass. At 3:00 p.m. the final awards were made for the largest bass of the day, the largest five fish of the day, and the largest bass by a female angler. The largest fish was just under ten pounds. The largest five was just under twenty pounds. Several thousand dollars in prizes were awarded.

The stage show started at noon to a clear, sunny, and warm Florida day. There was not a cloud in the sky!

Music got started with Tammy Renee, who provided a full measure of old country and bluegrass favorites.

The legendary Chuck Wagon Gang followed with some of their newer music, and a lot of their old gospel favorites. They have a unique sound that is unmatched. They are celebrating 87 years of entertaining audiences world-wide. This is a must-see band for all followers of gospel music.

Rekindled Bits of Grass is led by CJ McClellan. They play straight-ahead bluegrass music, with one of Florida’s best young bluegrass musicians in tow. Nathan Beaumont plays most anything with strings, and very well at that.

Monroeville does not travel a lot, but made the journey from Sevierville, Tennessee to entertain the crowd. They have been a staple at Dollywood and Ole Smoky Moonshine for many years. Matt Munsey said they have played as many as 350 shows in a season at Dollywood. The band has its own line of merchandise called Pluck It that is highly successful.

Matt describes the band as “cross-over,” and they provide a high energy version of some old bluegrass favorites.  It is top notch entertainment. They will be back for next year’s show. Head for the Sevierville area and see them. Matt also told me to be on the lookout for some exciting news from the band.

Ralph Stanley II closed out the show with the mountain bluegrass of the Clinch Mountain Boys. The band will celebrate its 77th anniversary on October 16 of this year. Ralph II has developed his own sound while maintaining the Stanley Brothers feel of the band. Stanley Efaw joined the band about a year ago on fiddle. We have watched him grow up on stages all over the country, including one of his first performances with the Bluegrass Mountaineers when he was eight years old. He is one who can play anything with strings and leave one wanting more. The Stanley Brothers sound is much loved anywhere Ralph takes the band. This is one of the bands to see when they are in your area.

I had a chance to chat with CJ regarding the show. He said that the vision was to provide the complete spectrum of the bluegrass genre. I think that he and his brother did just that. Keep an eye out for next year’s Big Bass Bluegrass & BBQ schedule! It will be a good one.

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