Tag Archives: gamblefest

Red HenryFolks, sometimes in this business of playing music, we do crazy things. But often, we do them because they're fun. A good illustration of this occurred last Saturday, when Christopher and I were playing music at the Gamble Rogers music festival near St. Augustine, Florida.

You might think, if you're playing your shows and picking at a festival, that would be enough to do. But on Saturday, we started out with back-to-back afternoon sets-- I was sitting in with the Artful Dodgers, a 35-year reunion Florida band, and then we followed them with our own Red & Chris set. And it was hot! It must have been over 90 inside that tent. But the crowd liked us, so we expended some energy. We forged ahead and played a set of high-energy bluegrass and original material, and the crowd loved it! We sold a bunch of CDs afterwards, always a sign for musicians that the people like you.

Then, after an hour or so spent cooling down and getting a bite to eat in the festival's hospitality room, we had our evening already planned out. Chris had booked an evening house concert in Jacksonville, about an hour minutes away. So we loaded up the band and our instruments into two vehicles, and drove up I-95 to Jax. And what a reception! First there was a lot of good food and visiting with nice people, and then we launched into our set to the best audience reception we'd had in a long time. First we ate up the food, and then the folks ate up the music and stories. We played a 90-minute show to a tumultuous reception, and then sold CDs. LOTS of CDs. CD sales mean a lot to the band, both because of the financial aspect of it (more gas money) and also because of what sales say about how the crowd sincerely likes us. So by about 11:00 p.m. we were tired but happy, having played two shows in two places already.

But the night was not over! Our old friend Mike, who lives in St. Augustine, was holding his retirement party the same night. So we loaded ourselves in our cars and drove back to St. Augustine. And when we got to the party, the people were still picking! We naturally joined in, and picked for a couple more hours until things wound up, about 2:00 a.m. We drove back out to the festival and sacked out, trying to get some rest before playing our Sunday sets. We finally got to sleep about 4:00. What a day! We'd had a great time. The festival-- the house concert-- the party-- that had been what you'd call a full schedule, and I hope it happens again!

Red HenryFolks, I just wanted to let you know about a couple of folk festivals where Christopher and I will be playing this Spring. These are both relaxed, outdoor, very enjoyable family-style events, and we're looking forward to them a lot.

May 1-2-3: Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, held at the fairgrounds outside St. Augustine, Florida. This event is held annually to commemorate our old friend and inspiration Gamble Rogers, and (comparatively speaking) it's a small festival, with several stages and other activities all within easy walking distance.

May 22-23-24: Florida Folk Festival, held at Stephen Foster State Park at White Springs, Florida. This festival, held every year since 1952, is a much larger event, and it runs about ten stages during the days, plus the big main stage at the Amphitheater. Wear some comfortable shoes, because there are a great many enjoyable performers and folklife craftsmen (and craftswomen) busy for your entertainment over a wide area all three days.

My band for these events will be:

Myself on mandolin and guitar;

Christopher on guitar and mandolin;

John Hedgecoth on banjo; and

Barbara Johnson on bass.

--In addition to our stage sets, I expect to be leading a mandolin workshop at each festival. Whether you like picking or listening (or both), come out and have a good time with us

RedWhen you see bluegrass musicians picking, performing, and teaching, you might assume that they'd been doing so all their lives (and in our case, it actually has been most of that time). But I didn't get into bluegrass until I was 18 years old, and I just found a picture of two of the friends who helped point me in that direction. And as you might guess, this isn't a new picture. In fact, it was taken in about 1969. The two people in this photo are my uncle John Hedgecoth, with the banjo, and Dale Crider, playing his Martin guitar.

John Hedgecoth, Dale Crider

John was a few years ahead of me growing up. He'd always had musical talent, and he got into the folk and bluegrass scene in Florida in the early 1960s. Dale was a few more years ahead of both of us, but he'd been playing since he was a kid in Kentucky, and by the 1960s he'd moved to Florida and was one of the finest singer-songwriters there.

Time doesn't stand still--- not for long, anyway. Here's a photo of us performing together last year at the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival in St. Augustine:

John, Dale, Red, Chris at Gamblefest

(John Hedgecoth, Barbara Johnson, Dale Crider, me on the fiddle, and Chris Henry on mandolin)

Dale was playing one of his festival sets, and we were all backing him up. As you can see, everybody was having a good time, and our bluegrass crowd had spread to include members of the younger generation. Now, when you've played music with someone for over 40 years, you might think you'll have them figured out. But not with Dale and John! They both keep coming up with musical surprises.

We can all take a lesson from that. Once you know a tune, learn another one. Keep learning. Keep picking your old tunes, and figure out new ways to play them. Keep your musical mind active, instead of getting in a rut. That's how to play real music!

Red and Chris played at the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival May 2nd through 4th in Florida. Here is Red's account of the trip.

Went down to St. Augustine and had fun picking at the GambleFest. The folks liked it, and the band liked it too. Christopher and I traded off guitar and mandolin; we had expert picker Mike Johnson on guitar, Monroe veteran John Hedgecoth on banjo, and Barbara Johnson on bass.

Red and Chris at GambleFest


We had good mandolin workshops on Saturday and Sunday, with plenty of folks attending and asking good questions.

The weather was warm and dry, and the music was hot. Thanks for our friends Michael and Andrea for the excellent picking party and supper at their house on Saturday night, and to the festival hospitality room for meals all weekend and lifesaving coffee on Sunday morning!

Here we are on stage, playing my tune 'Helton Creek':

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