Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road at the 2018 Palatka Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren
Friday was a day of great emotion at the Palatka Bluegrass Festival. Promoter Norman Adams addressed the audience thanking everyone and speaking on the school tragedy in south Florida.
Then Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road took the stage. Lead singer Tommy Long was back on stage for the first time since starting his battle with throat cancer almost a year ago. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house when Tommy thanked the bluegrass community for all of its help during the past year. There was high electricity in both of the Carolina Road sets. The band drew on Tommy’s strength and put on an unforgettable show. I had the opportunity to visit with Tommy for a while prior to the first set. He was excited, nervous, elated, and ready to sing. Welcome back, Tommy.
The Dry Branch Fire Squad followed with their blend of old time music and Ron Thomason’s delightfully biting humor. Ron holds an audience spellbound and wanting more. The Palatka crowd gets more on Saturday with a second day of performances from the band.
Penny Creek is a Florida band that is growing in popularity in the region. They put on a show worthy of any festival stage.
The Gibson Brothers continue to earn all of the accolades that they get. This brother duo pays homage to the many brother duos that have come before. The brotherly banter is always entertaining even though some people seem to take it seriously. They return on Saturday for a second round of performances.
Balsam Range is certainly at the top of their game. They bring a special energy to the stage that many bands would like to duplicate. Dailey & Vincent closed out the day’s show with one long set. Jamie and Darrin have assembled a combination of veteran musicians and young guns that is top shelf. Jeff Parker and Jamie provide comic relief that is not matched by any other band. The band provides a blend of music that provides something for everyone in the audience.