Well, I’m already home, showered and comfortable at 5:30 pm Sunday after a weekend at the Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts – the Barberville Fall Jamboree. This is a very unique, twice a year event hosted at the Settlement. It is unique in that all of the music performances take place in and around historical buildings that have been moved to and preserved on the site and are, with one exception, all acoustic. Only the Depot Stage (on the porch of the old Pierson train depot building) has microphones and speakers. It is a very rewarding environment for performers that can project their sound (both instruments and voice) in an acoustic environment. I love it because of the freedom you have when you are not tied to the microphone or the guitar cord. Your ability to move and connect with your audience is wonderful. Before moving to the “blow by blow” I need to take a moment to thank Joe and Katie Waller who take on the enormous task of producing the music aspects of the event. This means booking all of the artists, scheduling more than seven stages, plus jam tents, workshop areas, hospitality, etc. This is not a high paying event for the artists - in fact, the budget for the event from the Settlement’s available public funding is incredibly minimal and playing this festival is a labor of love for those that can afford it. But, Joe and Katie and the great staff of volunteers make sure that the artists are well taken care of and feel appreciated, even if not well paid. Joe and Katie work tirelessly beforehand and throughout the festival making sure all details are attended to and the result is one of the best organized, most efficiently run festival programs around. This year the settlement opened up a new camping area for the musicians with the goal of providing more space, shade and easy access. With that in mind, though I don’t usually camp at this festival as I’m only a little over an hour away, I hauled the camper over Friday afternoon and got in around 4:30 pm. The weather was cool and overcast as I turned into the grounds and began sorting out where I wanted to set up. A lot of folks were already there – Joe & Katie, Steve & Leigh Humes of Cold Harbor, Al & Cindy Scortino, Doug Purcell (our reigning FOFF Pres.), Jen Weidley and many more. I selected a shaded space that was not too easy to get into, but having lots of practice maneuvering the camper I was able to slide it tightly into a cozy, shaded spot next to the front gate. I was soon enjoying a cold beer and relaxing with friends as others, including Larry Mangum, James Hawkins, Lucinda Gail of the Makleys, with Asa, of course, Ben DeHart, Barry Brogan, Charlie Groth and many more that I apologize for not having enough brain capacity to mention by name here, came trickling in. Soon there was a campfire going and the new camping area was properly Christened. Now I slipped away with Doug Purcel to grab a bite to eat, but it turned into a longer meal than either of us had expected. He was to meet Carl and Barbara Wade / Schaffer (Something Special) at a restaurant a couple of miles away on SR 40. We got to the place, got a table and began ordering for ourselves while Doug kept checking with the wandering Carl and Barbara by telephone to track their progress up from Sarasota – they weren’t making the progress they’d hoped and we (the Dos Doug’s) had finished drinks, appetizers, our meals, another drink, paid the check, left the tip and solved most of the problems of the free world before Carl and Barbara’s “Big Red” rolled into the parking lot. And, then we started all over again! Consequently, it was well after 9 PM before we got back to the camp and I was fading fast. I got the guitar out for a while and played in the shadows of the considerable camp fire crowd that had gathered, but I spiraled in before long and got cozy under the blankets in the trailer for some much needed shut eye. I slept in late, first peeking out of the trailer at the gorgeous weather at about 9 AM. I wandered over the to Settlement to get coffee, etc. and was amazed at the number of folks – it was wall to wall people already! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better Barberville crowd. After a cup of coffee and some sausage biscuits I wandered back to camp and sat with Carl, Barbara, Doug & Charlie for another cup of the good black stuff and listened to them preparing their material for the day’s performances. It soon occurred to me that I should be doing the same thing! So, back to the trailer, some water on the face and get at it. My first set Saturday was in the Church at 1 PM. It’s my favorite stage there acoustically and I had a full house. What a fun set! I didn’t prepare a set list all weekend, opting instead to just play whatever I felt like at the moment. Since I’m working on the new CD I tended towards the material I’ve been recording and enjoyed getting to play those tunes in that environment. Afterwards I headed over to the hospitality area for a late lunch. A difference for the performers this year was that instead of meal tickets to use at the food vendors, the volunteers prepared food for us in the kitchen of old school house building. Now, I heard some grousing that this was just a way to cut the cost of the music, but for me it was a welcome change. The food we had was better, healthier and served with a genuine smile! There was chili, vegetable stew, chicken and some killer desserts – I definitely approve! My second set on Saturday was on the Family Stage adjacent to the school house and the vendor area at 3 PM. I came after the Cracker Tenor, Ben DeHart, a tough act to follow. Another fun set with a great crowd enjoying the beautiful day. Then, Miller time! Back at the camp I wandered over to the Cold Harbor camp area and chatted with Steve, Leigh, James and others. Soon the guitars started coming out and the songs passed around as the sun started to fade. We all knew we’d get an extra hour of sleep because of the time change so folks were ready to pick long into the night. I took a short break at one point to get Leigh Humes to microwave a big chicken pot pie I had brought along (THANKS LEIGH!!!) which James Hawkins and I polished off between us. Then I brought out a bottle of Tulamore Dew (Irish whiskey for the more pure among you) with some cups and set it in the middle of the circle. There was all the Cold Harbor folks, including Pasco Pete, Larry Mangum, Steve Worrell, Tom Stevens, Barry Brogan, Ben DeHart, Grant Peeples, Joe & Katie Waller and more. Songs and great guitar licks and swapping guitars and laughter and, well, just all good things. Hours and the whiskey flowed by until well after midnight until it was just James, Leigh & Steve, Grant and me left. James, Grant and I decided to wander down to the RR crossing to get a close look at one of the frequently passing trains. We walked the tracks for a while chatting about this and that, but no train! Oh well, we walked over to the convenience store and got Subway Subs and ate them out on the grass still hoping for a passing freight. Still no train so back to camp and I hit the pillows around 2 AM. A very special night of friendship and music. Now, Sunday turned a bit overcast and moist. My schedule included 3 sets: 12 noon in the Church, 1 PM on the Depot Stage and 3 PM at the Bridgehouse. The Church was full again, assisted in some part by a slow drizzling rain that drove some passersby in for shelter (hey, whatever it takes!). The Depot crowd was sparse as the seating area is not covered, but there were a couple of dozen die hards with umbrellas and those who were not deterred by the light moisture. By 3 pm the drizzle was heavier and the totally open air Bridgehouse “stage” (basically an uncovered spot under the oak trees) was rained out entirely. Back at the camp, those who had not started early in the morning to avoid the rain were folding up wet tents and stowing wet gear. I said my goodbyes, hooked up the trailer and headed home. However, the rain did nothing to dampen my spirits – this was a great weekend and one of the best Barbervilles of the many in memory. I’ll be looking forward to the Spring Frolic in April!