Sunday was another long and musical day at White Springs. The morning dawned high and dry, with no sign of the deluge we'd had the previous evening. After begging some morning coffee (essential for survival), I tuned up my mandolin and guitar and contemplated the day. We had a set to play at the River Gazebo, specified to be primarily of Florida songs. We have quite a few of those in our band repertoire, so I started picking out a few. There were some I rejected. "Abraham Washington"? -- maybe too grim for Sunday. "Gospel Snakes"? -- Dale had performed that one on Saturday. But we had plenty more up our sleeves.
By "we" I mean Red and Chris Henry and our All-Star Band, which includes John Hedgecoth (banjo), Jenny Leigh (fiddle), and Barbara Johnson (bass), all three of whom are great pickers. In spite of only performing together a few times per year, we have plenty of material worked up and are always learning more-- we managed to play two hour-long sets at Gamblefest without repeating anything-- and we have a good time playing music together.
First thing on the day's program was to back up our friend Dale Crider for his set on the Old Marble Stage. We all traipsed over there at the appropriate time, and Dale launched into his set.
Now, Dale's mind works quickly and creatively. (I have already mentioned his "Mangrove Buccaneer" song posted by Ron Johnson at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=18-Kt4UKmII , in which Dale's cat-like powers of recovery are demonstrated.) But after Dale arrived a few minutes late for his own set on Friday, and was only prevented from singing one of his own songs which we'd already done by the kindness of a vocal audience member, he'd gotten skittish about repeating a song. Before singing one of his songs at the Old Marble Stage, he paused and asked the audience, "Have I already done this one?" -- it's a good thing he asked them instead of us. I leaned into my mike and said, "Dale KNOWS that if he'd already sung it, WE would stand right here and let him sing it AGAIN!" -- but correctly reassured by the audience that he hadn't done it yet, Dale sang "Mangrove Buccaneer" to end the set. Good job, Dale.
After a break back in the campground, it was time for us to go down to the River Gazebo and play. Before our set I chatted for a while with distinguished Florida folks Larry Mangum and Frank Thomas, and also met Nancy Crockford, an accomplished violinist who was interested in learning fiddle. I'll send you a couple of our Murphy Method fiddle-instruction DVDs, Nancy. Then it was time for us to play.
Since Christopher and I like playing double-harmony mandolins together so much, we started out with a fine Bill Monroe tune called "Tallahassee". Chris and Jenny contributed Florida songs of their own, and then John sang his "Florida Sunshine" tribute to White Springs in olden days. The crowd really liked all these but at that point we were running short on time, so we did a quick guitar-harmony rendition of Will McLean's "Osceola's Last Words" and finished out with an abbreviated double-mandolin version of "Rawhide" -- not exactly a Florida song, I suppose, but to get five out of six isn't bad.
Last on our day's schedule was a set by Dale at the Gazebo, alternating songs with Jeannie Fitchen. We had a good time playing, and listening to Jeannie, and playing, and listening, until it was time for Frank Thomas to take center stage and lead us all in "Old Folks at Home". What a good day, and what a great festival!
After the set John needed to get back to Nashville, but the rest of us loaded up our stuff and drove down to Dale's place at Windsor, on the shores of Lake Newnan. The thunderstorms were threatening as we set out, and let go some gully-washing rains as we drove. On Monday, we'd be recording with Dale!
Next time: Day 5!