Palatka Bluegrass Festival, Spring 2022 report

Po’ Ramblin’ Boys at the Spring 2022 Palatka Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren

The Palatka Bluegrass Festival had nearly picture perfect weather for their Spring 2022 event. It did get a little chilly Saturday evening, but there was not a cloud in the sky.

Remedy Tree opened the Friday show. They showcase some really good old time fiddling and music.

Darren Nicholson brought his band to the show. He has fronted this group for sixteen years, when Darren is not out with Balsam Range. Darren’s outsized personality and smile light up the stage. Darren, Justin Mason, and Clarence Canada hosted the Moonlight Jam after the stage show. Larry Stephenson and his band members joined in for a big jam enjoyed by all.

The Gibson Brothers followed. They introduced some new music along with some old favorites. Leigh announced that he had carpal tunnel surgery less then two weeks ago. He never missed a beat. Colby Kilby was with the band playing mandolin and some guitar.

The Martins put on a Gospel show and provided personal testimonies, showing out with great sibling harmonies.

Larry Stephenson joined MC Sherry Boyd to introduce the Gibson Brothers for their evening show.

Saturday dawned bright and sunny with Retro 78 opening the stage show. It was immediately apparent why they won the most recent SPBGMA band contest. They describe themselves as playing bluegrass in the ’70s style. They give full measure of hard driving bluegrass music.

Darren Nicholson was joined by his wife Jennifer in his Saturday set. They sang a stirring duet.

A trip around the grounds showed quite a number of vendors. Several different types of food and several craft vendors were on hand. The Ranch boys are learning blacksmithing and were selling their wares. Root beer floats are always popular as is homemade ice cream. Girl Scout Troop 33009 was selling cookies to help fund an upcoming trip. The CFO of Candidpix said that the Purchasing Department may have overbought! 😊

Zink and Company are entertainers of the best kind. Corey Zink does a blend of traditional country and bluegrass music. He said that he liked donuts – it snowballed! “What kind of donuts?” from the audience. “Round ones!” says Corey. What he didn’t know was that a donut vendor was on the grounds. A bucket of donuts hit the stage just before the set was done!

There are few superlatives left to describe Rhonda Vincent. Great music, hardworking, smiling, funny, crowd pleaser, fan favorite – the list is endless. The most recent title is grandmother. Congratulations! She did bring the house down with banter between herself and the band. She asked Hunter if he was recording “American Idol.” He shook his head no and said that Rhonda was the only American Idol for him. The audience roared and Jeff got a tissue and wiped the tip of Hunter’s nose. Rhonda continued on about the sunny Florida weather. Mickey piped up that Rhonda was the only sunshine he needed. The audience again roared. Aaron retrieved another tissue and wiped the tip of Mickey’s nose. Mickey then said that you can tell who has been in the band longest – Hunter 20 years and Mickey 19. Rhonda asked Zack if he was taking notes. That set the audience off again!

Rita Parker made a quilt for the Ranch to raffle and Nancy Bryan won this beautiful keepsake.

Roscoe Canady was a well known Florida bluegrass musician who passed several years ago. His widow, Rosalee, has remained active in Florida. A couple of years ago she sold one of his less expensive mandolins to Bryce Griffin. She has watched this young man of 15 turn into a really good mandolin player. Ernie Evans invited Bryce to join him on stage and talked about his musical abilities. Rosalee joined them and presented Bryce the hand built mandolin that Roscoe used on tour. There were smiles and tears of joy all around. I caught up to Rosalee and Bryce backstage. He was pickin’ and grinnin’!

Rhonda invited a youngster named Molly to join her in singing If You Don’t Love God. This is another of the wonderful things that Rhonda does for the kids.

Evans Media Source donated a guitar to be raffled as a fundraiser for the Ranch. An astounded Sherry Boyd drew Norman Adams ticket as the winner! Norman donated the guitar back to the Ranch. Executive director, Brad Hall, has started the boys on guitar lessons. Ranch founder, Homer Rodeheaver, was the song leader for evangelist Billy Sunday, so the ranch has a musical legacy. Brad feels the guitar lessons and the music festivals are extremely valuable in ranch life. His goal is for each youngster that learns to play guitar to have one to take with him when his time at the ranch is over. All of us can be a part of that endeavor.

The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys closed out the festival. These guys and gal have a chemistry on stage that few bands ever find which provides a riveting show. I have watched Jereme and Josh grow up. They used to come to Michigan with Jereme’s dad’s band when they were 12 or 13 years old. Tommy would have them on stage for a song or two. Now they are grown men with one of the most in-demand bands in bluegrass.

EMS will host the Florida Classic this weekend in Brooksville, Florida. Join us there for another weekend of great music.

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