We last left you after a long (and mostly dry) Friday at the Florida Folk Festival. Saturday morning I awoke after a good night's sleep of 6 hours, begged some coffee, and got ready for the day. Again on Saturday we were to back up Dale Crider on a set, this time at the Azalea Stage, and then play a set of our own at 3:00 on the historic (and fun) Old Marble Stage. I say "and fun" because it is. The Old Marble Stage tent is typically crowded with festival-goers who are a lot of fun to play music for.
I got my mandolin and guitar tuned up about the time the rest of the band woke up and showed up at the campground. By "the rest of the band" I mean that we are Red and Chris Henry and Their All-Star Band: Besides Chris and myself we have my uncle John Hedgecoth, who (among other items in his long resume) played banjo for a while with Bill Monroe; Jenny Leigh, a young and talented fiddler who can play many styles well; and Barbara Johnson, who needs no introduction to a Florida audience, on bass. It's fun to play music with this group.
Along with playing our sets, Jenny was going to enter the Florida State Fiddle Contest, so she, along with Chris to back her up on guitar, went over to the big Dance Tent at the appropriate time. Meanwhile, John, Barbara, and I ambled over to the Azalea Stage to see what trouble we could make for Dale Crider during his show. We all took the stage and Dale was in fine form, preaching the Florida Environment Gospel and singing his songs. Our friend Ron Johnson was there, camera in hand, and immortalized two of Dale's numbers on YouTube:
(...in the second of which, perspicacious listeners will note, Dale's amazing cat-like powers of recovery are demonstrated.)
. . . . .
After Dale's set I went back over to the Dance Tent, where Jenny was just about to play her tunes in the state fiddle contest. She played a couple of unbeatable tunes, and--- you can guess it--- she won the contest! So now we have a Florida Fiddle Champion in the band.
After some picking with our friends Barbara and Gary back at the campground, the time for our own set was coming up, so we all moseyed over to the Old Marble Stage. Enjoyed visiting briefly with Donna Green-Townsend and our old musical friends the Peyton Brothers, and then it was time for us to play. I figured we'd pull out all the stops, so we kicked off the show with a high-energy homemade instrumental, "Centerville Road." Then Chris and I launched into an old Bill Monroe number, "Toy Heart." Then Chris sang one of his excellent original numbers, "Walkin' West to Memphis," and the folks liked it a lot.
John was next, and he sang a special song he'd re-written from one of Bill Monroe's songs, "My Florida Sunshine." The chorus goes like this:
"Way down in the state of Florida, Florida,
where the old Suwannee River flows,
My Sweetheart is waiting for me, for me...
[dramatic musical pause],
'way down where the orange tree grows."
--and John had re-written the verses all about the White Springs festival in the old days! Cousin Thelma Boltin was in there. So were Dale Crider, Gamble Rogers, and Will McLean, and others who had played on that same stage long ago. The song was fun to sing.
Now it was time for a tune from Jenny, and she chose "Paddy on the Turnpike," a real barn-burner. John, Chris, and I all took a turn with it, and we finished it up by playing it one time through together. Mercy, what a tune! And the audience caught the band's excitement.
Christoper and I enjoy playing the mandolin together, so now we played a double-mandolin arrangement on "Pelham," another of his originals. The tune has a lot of spirit, and the folks liked it. And then (at the risk of playing three instrumentals in a row) we ended the set with "Helton Creek," the title cut from our latest CD. Everybody played great, and the listeners gave us a very nice response for which we're all grateful.
What a set! Then it was time to rest. Or so we thought... we got back to the campground just in time for the deluge!
This was not just a thunderstorm. This was one Florida cloudburst after another, going on for a couple of hours! Right away there were puddles on the ground a couple of inches deep. We huddled under the awning which Gary had brought, and waited for the storm to stop. But the entertainment was not over yet! Just as the storm was starting John hurried to get something out of his van, and (for the first time in his life, which I believe, knowing what a methodical person he is) locked his keys inside. So as the storm was pouring water down in buckets I was on the cell-phone to AAA, and sure enough, after about an hour a locksmith came out from Lake City, found the campground and our site somehow, and as the rain was letting off he let John back into his car. Mercy.
The rain went on and on, and everybody was too wet to pick. I heard some music over in the direction of the Mayhaws' big awning, but at that point I was too wiped out to go and cause any trouble. That was it for the night, but it had been a great day! -- as usual at White Springs!