Weekend report from Palatka 2023

Jeannie Seely and Rhonda Vincent at the 2023 Palatka Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren

Friday dawned sunny, breezy, and hot at the 19th spring Palatka Bluegrass Festival

Florida band Penny Creek opened the show. They are one of Florida’s most popular bands.

Retro 78 made their second appearance at Palatka. They are a North Carolina band with a hard driving sound who are past winners of the band contest at SPBGMA.

Larry Stephenson is celebrating 34 years as band leader. Red Jones surprised Larry by wearing a pair of Larry Stephenson socks to the show.

Promoter Ernie Evans goes to great lengths in his customer service. Got a squeaky chair? Ernie has WD-40!

Authentic Unlimited closed the day’s show to a large and enthusiastic audience. They belong on everyone’s “must see” list.

Saturday dawned sunny, breezy, and chilly! 

The EMS sound crew was hard at work dialing in the sound for the Jeannie Seely show. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage made sure they were in tune with the sound crew.

Saturday always features an open mic. Billy Lee Cox and Justin Mason facilitated this year’s session. 

The Price Sisters opened the show. These Ohio natives made their first trip to Palatka. It will not be their last. Sibling harmony is always good. Twin sister harmony is “gooder!”

Sideline is winding down with their farewell tour. They always provide a high energy show, and will be missed on the festival circuit. They have shows scheduled through the end of April.

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage are favorites wherever they appear. Rhonda has a connection with her audience that is rarely duplicated. Jason Barie was filling in on fiddle this weekend. 

The highlight of the weekend was the appearance of Grand Ole Opry member Jeannie Seely. She still has it. She put on a tremendous show. She has been an Opry member since 1968, and is the one who issued the Opry invite to Rhonda Vincent. The interaction between the two of them shows the love and respect they have for each other. Rhonda joined her on stage for a couple songs. Jeannie presented her with the “Most Selfies on Facebook” award! Our Canadian buddy Pete presented a rose to each of them.

Rodeheaver Boys Ranch Executive Director Brad Hall thanked everyone for coming to the festival, as did Ernie Evans. Justin Mason announced a new festival that will be held in mid-April at the former Sertoma Youth Ranch. It is called the Florida Bluegrass Summit and will feature Florida bands.

Rhonda closed out the festival as only she can. 

A large crowd had a great weekend.

The Florida Classic kicks off in Brooksville on Thursday.

Support your local music venues.