Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder at the 2023 Yeehaw Music Fest – photo © Bill Warren
The Okeechobee County Agri-Civic Center is a really good venue for a bluegrass festival. The music and fans proved it Friday and Saturday at the 2023 Yeehaw Music Fest. Ernie and Debi Evans of Evans Media Source have to be pleased.
Justin Mason and Blue Night played early sets both days. They are a hard-driving, traditional bluegrass band. Justin is active all over the state of Florida as a top flight bluegrass ambassador. He makes it his business to find out the who, what, when, and where and passes it on.
Penny Creek is based in Melbourne, Florida. They are one of the area’s top bands and play regular gigs in their region. Look them up.
The Malpass Brothers continue to be at the top of their game. They provided an added twist Friday when Taylor introduced his pet dinosaur! The audience loved it.
Deeper Shade of Blue played the first of their three sets in the afternoon. They also hosted the midnight jamboree with the help of EMS Artist Relations Manager, Clarence Canada.
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage closed out the day as only she can. Jamie Harper was the special guest fiddler with the Rage. Rhonda told that Jamie would make his Opry debut with her on Saturday night. She also mentioned what good root beer floats Don and Stacie Stratton make and had one to sip on during her closing set.
Saturday saw Sherry Boyd’s capable hand running the show.
Ernie brought two young country singers from the Jacksonville area to showcase. Payten Tison and Lee Ann Purvis sang both classic and contemporary songs. They were accompanied by their vocal coach, Miss Marie. Remember these names. You will hear more from them in the future.
Blue Night played their second set of the weekend. Justin featured the Canada brothers on a couple tunes. Clarence and Lester toured as the Canada Brothers in years past. Lester plays fiddle in the band. He asked 16 year old Ian Lane to join him for a twin fiddle number. Ian has been playing for two years and is one of those amazing youngsters. He is the regular fiddler for Keith Bass. Keith described him as soaking up the music like a sponge.
Keith Bass and the Florida Bluegrass Express was up next. This is one of Florida most traditional bluegrass bands. Band leader/banjo player, Keith Bass is a cattle rancher in Okeechobee. His ranch is 7,000 acres and by his description has 2,000 “mama cows.” Calving time must be absolutely crazy!
Deeper Shade of Blue finished our the weekend with two lively sets of music.
The Lonesome River Band is celebrating over 40 years of playing as a band. Sammy Shelor joined in 1990 and became the band leader in 2000. They are at the very top of their game with the current lineup.
Ron Cornett brought his radio show to the Fest. A lot of us thought he was a brave soul to interview all of the Deeper Shade of Blue guys at the same time!
Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder closed out the weekend. What a legend! This show was special. He and the band performed for over 90 minutes. Ricky is still recovering from a torn rotator cuff, but that did not slow him down. Singer and guitar player, Dennis Parker gave a stirring testimony telling of his seventh year of sobriety this month. Everyone that knows Dennis is very proud of him. Ricky plays his “Mad Mon” mandolin that David Harvey created for him two or three years ago. It was the first of these reproduction models. David has created several others. Lorraine Jordan has one as well.
The next show for Evans Media Source is the Spring Palatka Festival at the Rodeheaver Boy’s Ranch in Palatka Florida. It is February 16-18.
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