Withlacoochee River Bluegrass Festival Friday
The sun rose on the Robinson ranch to the sounds of fish jumping in the river and birds singing in the trees. Multiple anglers could be found all along the banks trying thier hand at reeling in the big one. With the fish came something even better…more pickers!
RVs, Campers and cars by the dozen rolled into the park starting at about 9am and didnt ever seem to want to stop. The picking reinforcements were greatly needed because the numerous jams the night before had the current allotment of pickers slow to rise.
The stage area was packed with fans ready to catch the days acts. Backwater was back again and did not disappoint. They kept the crowd on thier toes playing Bluegrass hits and playing with a groove that is contagious.
Williamson Branch took the stage and set the bar so high on what it means to be a family band. Most family bands have tight harmonies and sibling chemistry but Williamson Branch takes those traits to the next level and puts on a show people talk about for weeks. Bands in general have “off days” where it seems like they aren’t on point but Kevin and his crew always have thier dail up to 10!
Sideline rolled into the campground in thier signature Swaggerty Farms bus and proceeded to play the hits that have made them one of today’s top touring acts. While ever member of the band adds to the show, Steve Dilling just knows how to bring the fans in. Steve is such a likable character and has a skill at remembering fans he may have not seen for months if not years. Skip Cherryholmes and the rest of the Sideline crew are also great people and spend so much of thier off stage time meeting with fans.
After the show (and during it!) you could find a jam nearly every dozen campers or so. Soggy Bottom, Skeeter Creek, Stringbusters, Johnny Adam’s and so many other jams all cranking out Bluegrass favorites and providing ve ues for people to come together and share laughs and memories. As of typing this there are still at least a handful of jams still going strong.
Tomorrow brings a second helping of Sideline along with The Po Ramblin Boys, state favorites Swinging Bridge, and so much more. Cant wait to see the show, and the second show if you know what I mean.
As a special side note, the jamming tonight was amazing as always but for the Florida Bluegrass Network correspondents in attendance (all of whom are jammers) it was extra special. We got the chance to jam with two of the music’s special people Banjo Legend Mark Johnson and Award Winning Songwriter Brink Brinkman. (We are already enjoying the “perks” of the job!)
Justin Mason, Florida Bluegrass Network