Each day at a Bluegrass festival is special but Saturdays are what it’s all about. The folks who couldn’t make the weekdays because of work file in with an energy which is palpable. The stage show is almost always the best of the weekend and the jammers are going until all hours to get one last jam or two in.
Saturday at The Withlacoochee River Bluegrass Festival was no different. The pavillion was filled with people trying to catch another show from Sideline and the other great acts who made up Saturday’s show.
Swinging Bridge, who plays all across the state from thier homebase of Venice/Englewood put on such a good show that it had people who were mulling around the vendor area quickly walking over to the stage area to catch some of the hot licks and clean vocals that this experienced band could do with their eyes closed.
Larry Gillis and his “Swampgrass” style added his own flavor to the lineup with a little help from Kody Norris (who has his own touring act (The Kody Norris Show) on guitar which added to that lonesome Stanley sound that Larry does so well. Mountain songs and lighting speed banjo were just what the doctor ordered.
The Po Ramblin Boys took to the stage (which is covered with antique farming equipment) and the tame machine was fired up. The boys in this band give you such an authentic Jimmy Martin esqe show from thier potent vocals, to thier old school stage suits that you feel like your sitting watching JD and Paul back up the King. Traditional Bluegrass fans are always discussing the lack of traditional style bands but The Po Ramblin Boys remind you that the old style is alive and well.
After the show, it was time to jam!
Groups of pickers and grinners could be seen wondering the winding lanes of the campground jumping from jam to jam and mixing into the music that could be heard ringing long after the stage speakers had grown silent. Jams, campfires and conversations could be found around every bend.
Sunday brings the Mike and Mary Robinson Gospel Sing which gives folks the chance to enjoy a nondenominational church service while also being part of that service with thier fellow pickers and singers. Swinging Bridge will be playing thier gospel set afterwords and the festival will come to a close on a high note….specially if JR Davis gets his way!
Justin Mason, Florida Bluegrass Network