Ten minutes outside of Dunellon Florida, tucked away on the Robinson Ranch this weekend you will find one of the state’s oldest Bluegrass Festivals. I had the good fortune of bringing a friend to this amazing show for the first time so I was excited to play tour guide. Once you pull into the grove that the festival calls home, you quickly understand why people make the trek to this small town twice a year….it is flat out beautiful.
The oak trees covered in moss provide a perfect backdrop that keeps the music ringing in the shade. Just steps from the stage you will find a beautiful stretch of the Withlacoochee River teeming with fish, gators and Osprey. You could easily grab a fishing rod and spend the day drifting away into the beautiful scene…but you would be missing out on the Bluegrass.
The open mic kicked off the festival providing the generous amounts of parking lot pickers and jammers a chance to stand on the same stage that has hosted The Osborne Brothers, Chubby Wise and The Johnson Mountain Boys. Following those pickers were the first band of the weekend, Backwater Bluegrass. Backwater Bluegrass quickly brings you in with their song choices ranging from Balsam Range, to Doyle Lawson and on down the hit list. The fans loved their show and were asking for more when the show was over.
Once folks made the short walk back to their campsites, multiple jams broke out…The Stringbusters, Skeeter Creek and many other large jams could be heard ringing through the night. For many of the pickers, it’s like a family reunion seeing friends that they had not seen since the last festival so they pick the night away singing the songs that made them friends.
The first day of The Withlacoochee River Bluegrass Festival was a great time and a good foreshadowing for what is sure to be an amazing weekend of Bluegrass.
Justin Mason, Florida Bluegrass Network