Tag Archives: florida folk festival

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, I just thought you'd like to see this photo of Red & Chris and Their All-Star Band performing with Dale Crider at the Florida Folk Festival a couple of weekends ago:

(Pickers: Jenny Leigh, Chris Henry, Barb Johnson, Dale Crider, Red Henry, John Hedgedcoth.) As you can see, we have a good time playing music with Dale. That's because he's such a great performer with plenty of charisma on stage, and his shows are always unpredictable. Dale's an entertaining MC, and he's liable to bring out lots of his original songs, and he may put a song in a different arrangement or in a different key from the last time we played it. He may even change into a new key, or change the tempo from 3/4 to 4/4 in the middle of a song, so we have to be on our toes. So enjoy this action shot!


Red Henry

Red Henry

At the Florida Folk Festival, Chris, John, and I were picking at our campsite, warming up to play a set. Since John knows a great many of Bill Monroe's tunes and plays them on the banjo, we were exploring the Monroe "deep catalog." We did play 'Jerusalem Ridge', but we also played 'Old Ebeneezer Scrooge' and 'Come Hither to Go Yonder' and 'The Old Mountaineer' and 'Crossing the Cumberlands' and 'Right, Right On' and more.

A person who was new to this kind of music stood by one side and listened. When we finished one tune she asked, "Who wrote that music that you're playing?" I replied, "Bill Monroe." She asked, "Is it authentic?"

I pointed to John and said, "That man right there was playing banjo for Bill when he was writing and playing these tunes, and yes, it's authentic!"

Red Henry

Red Henry

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!

Red Henry

Red Henry

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.

Chris, Jenny, Red, and John

Chris, Jenny, Red, and John

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:

"Apalachicola Doin' Time"

"Mangrove Buccaneer"

(...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!


Red Henry

Red Henry

When I last left you, we (Chris, Jenny, and I) had arrived late and tired at the Florida Folk Festival campground, and I collapsed to get some rest for the next day. Well, Friday dawned bright and promising, and I secured the morning essential (coffee) to start waking up. Pretty soon my mother Renee and her banjo-playing brother, my uncle John Hedgecoth, arrived from Tallahassee and we all picked for a while to warm up. By "we all" I mean myself, Chris, and Jenny, plus John and Barbara Johnson, our bass player.

We'd barely gotten started when someone noticed that our friend Dale was scheduled to play a set at noon on the Seminole Stage, which is at the other end of the festival-- probably about a half-mile-- from the campground. We wanted to back him up. So we loaded ourselves and our instruments into a variety of vehicles and set out for the Seminole Stage.

Now, when you deal with creative personalities you're talking about people who sometimes don't see the point of making sure you arrive everywhere exactly on schedule. This is the case with Dale, one of the most brilliantly creative people I know. So when we all arrived at the Seminole Stage, ready to back him up for his set, he was nowhere to be seen. What to do? Well, we've backed Dale up a lot. When the time came to start his set, we just got up in front of the crowd and started singing his songs! We kicked it off with Dale's original song "Mangrove Buccaneer." The crowd (full of people who knew Dale) loved it. And when we had played about half of the set, who should come running in, guitar in hand, but Dale himself! Christopher was in the middle of singing "Tate's Hell," a wonderful Florida song and one of Dale's favorites, and Dale just took over the lead vocal from him to finish out with the last verse.

Dale sang several more, and it was time to finish the show. He had decided to end the set with "Mangrove Buccaneer" when one audience member (unfortunately) told him that we'd already sung it! It would have been so much fun if he'd gone ahead and done it again, unknowingly. But instead he finished up with his song "Apalachicola Doin' Time" (freshly topical these days with the Gulf oil disaster on peoples' minds), and we we back to the campground to rest and pick.

Our own set was at the same Seminole Stage at 3:30, so we loaded up again and made the trek. We had an excellent crowd, and played and sang many of our favorites, starting off with Chubby Anthony's "Foothills of Home" and finishing out with the old gospel favorite "When the Roll is Called Up Yonder," which I'm glad to say that many people sang along with. Then it was back to the campground and picking until the small hours.

Do you wonder why we do this? Well, who'd want to be anywhere else?


Red Henry

Red Henry

As many of you Folks out there may recall, I've traveled south to play at the annual Florida Folk Festival before. This year's trip was an excellent one, and I can't think of any subject that will give you a better idea of how much fun we have playing music.

Well, okay. I admit it. The first day of the trip we were not playing music. We were traveling to play music. There's a difference, and you generally can't do both at the same time. (The story of a mandolin player named Larry practicing his mandolin while driving at night, and taking out a large billboard when he lost control of the car, is one of my favorites. But I digress.)

Our travelers for the trip were myself, Christopher, and his fiddle-playing girlfriend Jenny. We planned to make the trip to Florida all in one day. So I started up the car in Winchester at 6:05 Thursday morning, and in a short 4 1/2 hours we were on the Interstate headed to Florida. "A short 4 1/2 hours"? I hear you say. Well, you see, there are always things that have to be done. For one thing, I needed to go pick up Chris and Jenny at their place, about an hour away. For another thing, Jenny has a coon hound named MayBelle. MayBelle is a good dog, but dogs aren't allowed at the Folk Festival, so we stopped at a kennel so that Jenny could leave her there for several days. We accomplished all that, but then we needed to make another stop. Since we'd be doing three days of camping, we had to pick up some "possibles." What are "possibles"? Well, they can include anything at all you'd need for three days living at a festival, in a tent, away from a store. So we stopped-- where else?-- at Wal-Mart, and picked up what we needed, then got on the road headed south. And we did all this in only 4 1/2 hours, which was pretty quick work. For musicians.

Now we were on the Interstate, in heavy traffic, and what was ahead of us? A tractor-trailer accident, of course. So we got off at an exit just before the traffic back-up and took a side road for a few miles. Then we were back on the Interstate again. Then there was some road work, and that took time to get past. Then there was another accident (side roads again). Then there was more road work. At 6 o'clock in the evening we were still in South Carolina, and the trip was beginning to get tedious. But after that we didn't have any more delays, and drove on in to the festival campground at White Springs, Florida, arriving at 11:43. Yes, that's 17 hours and 38 minutes from the time I started out from our house! Chris and Jenny set up their tent and I sacked out on a roomy air mattress in our minivan, looking forward to a good day of picking and performing on Friday. This is fun!


(Next time: Day 2.)

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, it's almost time for the Florida Folk Festival, held every year at the Stephen Foster State Park on Memorial Day weekend. Chris, Jenny, and I will be driving down there on Thursday (13 hours, but we'll never match Casey's travel percentage!), and we'll have three days of performing music on the festival stages. Here's our schedule:

Friday, May 28th: 3:30, at the Seminole Hut stage.

Saturday, May 29th: 3:00, at the Old Marble Stage.

Sunday, May 30th: 3:20, at the River Gazebo.

Of course we'll have plenty of our CDs with us at our sets, and a selection of Murphy Method DVDs as well --and, naturally, there will be plenty of picking in the campground the rest of the time!

This festival runs eight or ten stages during the day, and a big show on the main stage at night. Activities include fiddle and banjo contests as well as contra-dances and craft shows. Look the festival up at http://www.floridastateparks.org/folkfest/Highlights.cfm , and take a look at the schedules! There'll be a lot going on. Come by if you can, and say hello.


Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks. as you may have read below, Chris and I and our band had a great time last weekend at the Gamble Rogers Festival in St. Augustine. Florida. Our sets sounded really good, and the people liked them. As a result, we had a great time and sold lots of CD (always a morale-booster). But even with the same band and the same playing locations and times, things could have been pretty different. We might not have had a successful weekend at all. What made the difference?

The difference was in the sound. That's the sound reinforcement or P.A. system, something that the audience (properly) doesn't think much about when listening to a band. If the sound equipment and personnel aren't up to the job, the band might not sound very good on stage, and the audience may not realize just why. Some of the instruments might be pretty faint. The vocals might not be balanced. The sound personnel might not have their attention on the moment-by-moment stage sound, and corrections might not get made. All professional musicians have played shows like that, and the sound has really turned many good performing situations into marginal experiences on stage. When that happens, we just have to keep on performing and hope for the best.

But at GambleFest, the sound systems were excellent. The equipment was plenty adequate for the job. The sound personnel were prompt and efficient in setting up the stage for each band. And once we got behind the microphones and started our shows, the sound guys (and gals) were right there on the board, "tweaking" the microphone levels and tone controls to help us sound our best. That's not something the audience should notice (the process should be invisible to the listeners-- they just deserve all the good sound possible all the time-- but it sure is important to the band). And the sound folks at GambleFest did a really fine job. Thanks to all people on the sound boards at GambleFest!

NEXT UP: The Florida Folk Festival, Memorial Day weekend!

Red Henry

Red Henry

Folks, I'm just back from playing at the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival last weekend in St. Augustine, Florida. Chris and I had a 6-piece band including his fiddle-playing girlfriend Jenny, my banjo-picking uncle John Hedgecoth, and our friends Mike Johnson on guitar and Barbara Johnson (no relation) on bass. We played a couple of really enjoyable 1-hour sets.

On Saturday night, we opened for Dr. Ralph Stanley at the Flagler College Auditorium. It has been several years since I'd played on the same bill with Ralph, so I made sure we had some old Stanley Brothers numbers in our show: 'If I Lose' and 'Rolling on Rubber Wheels' were just right for the occasion, along with some of our favorite Bill Monroe tunes ('Stoney Lonesome' and 'Brown County Breakdown') and plenty of our own original songs and tunes such as Chris's 'Boxcar Door', Jenny's 'Flowers' song, and my own tune 'Helton Creek'. In contrast to Murphy and Casey's experiences back home, the soundpersons' work was excellent. The crowd liked us a lot, and we sold lots of CDs.

Our Sunday set was a bit more laid-back, but also lots of fun playing to a great crowd. THANK YOU to all the folks who put on that festival, and to all the folks who came out and heard us play.

Next appearance for Red and Chris and Their All-Star Band: the Florida Folk Festival, May 28-30, at White Springs!

Red HenrySunday was a busy day for us at White Springs, and was going to be a long one. So, when I rolled out of the car at about 7:00, I went looking for coffee. Once that was found, it was time to wake up and get ready to play, including some picking, starting at about ten. Now, the Florida Folk Festival runs about ten stages, and we had a show to play at 1:00 at a stage called the Seminole Hut. That's not as peculiar as it sounds! The hut is a good venue with plenty of cool cover from the sun, solid cover from the rain, and a chance to play without a sound system and get close to our audience-- always a plus.

The morning was beautiful, with blue sky and not a drop of rain. Once warmups, visiting, and picking were accomplished, we all proceeded over to that Seminole hut, which is at the other end of the festival and most of a mile from the campground. The hut overlooks the grounds of the old, original Florida Folk Festival as it was in the late 1960s, when I first began going there, so I experienced in a bit of nostalgia as we arrived.

1:00 arrived, and we hit the stage-- or, rather, we stood up in front of the crowd. I like that. There's nothing quite like being close to the audience, so that the band and the listeners can really see and hear each other and trade energy. We had a packed crowd, of ages from about 9 on up. And like us, the people were ready to enjoy the show.

We started our set off with "Centerville Road", a high-energy, original mandolin tune. As we all took our breaks, the tune sounded really tight. The folks really liked it, and recognized all the instrumental breaks. A good start! Then I indulged in a few seconds of reminiscences about the great musician Chubby Anthony, the writer of the next song, and how I'd first seen him in 1968 within sight of the place we were standing, before launching into his song "Foothills of Home". Since we've been playing that one for years, it sounded good and tight.

Christopher's turn came next, and he sang his excellent number "Listen to the Lonesome Train". The crowd really liked it. Then John Hedgecoth regaled the audience with a fine rendition of "Ain't Gonna Work Tomorrow", dedicating it to our cousin Dan Buie, who was in the audience. (It was Dan's birthday.) The crowd was really warmed up and responding well. Then it was time for a fiddle tune.

In the campground we'd discovered that Bill Monroe's little-played tune "Brown County Breakdown" sounded real good when we played it, so I put it here in the show. The tune is in E and is a bit unpopular, I suspect because few people have discovered how it good it can sound when it's "tight," but the number really came together as we played it that Sunday. More great crowd response.

We had time left for two numbers and a little extra, so I informed the crowd about some exploits of our legendary hero Clermont Hosford and then sang Will McLean's song "Abraham Washington", which was written about the first execution in the State of Florida. (Don't worry, the song comes out well.) Then it was time for our finale, and we played our favorite closer, Red and Chris at the Seminole Hutthe title tune from my CD "Helton Creek". That was a good show! The people liked us, and we sold quite a few CDs afterwards. (Here's a photo from that set, showing how close we were to the audience and how they were almost in the middle of the musical action.)

After that show, on the spot, John had to leave and drive to Nashville. We wished he could have stayed, because we had some more plans for the afternoon and evening. First of all, at 4:20, our friend Dale Crider was playing a set at the River Gazebo stage, and we wanted to back him up. So shortly before that time We all went down to the river bank and sat down in the small stage building. Good thing we did! The bottom suddenly dropped out overhead, and there was an absolutely deafening rainstorm falling on the metal roof overhead. So much for hoping Sunday would be a dry day!  But Dale took the stage, with us behind him, and he carried the crowd away. First of all he sang two of his signature songs, "Mangrove Buccaneer" and "Gospel Snakes". Then, thunderstorm or not, Dale had the people all howling to his "Tallahassee Wolf" song. Good job, Dale!

Dale Crider et al at the River GazeboAfter the set the rain slacked off a bit, so we ran for the cars. The weekend wasn't over yet. Dale, Chris, Jenny, and I all drove from the festival down to Dale's house at Windsor, Florida. We had music to play the next day!


Next time: Our recording session with Dale, on Monday!