Saturday was another beautiful day! Very comfortable all day in the shade and warm in the clear sunshine. I started the day on the "main stage", the Ann Thomas River Gazebo. With no sound systems to deal with no one had showed up yet when I arrived at about 9:30 for my 10:20 set following Frank Thomas. It was a breath taking morning high on the banks of the Suwannee under the oaks, pines and cypress. The river is fairly low so it's running strong and swift. I sat on a convenient tree stump and warmed up for my part of the show – it just doesn't get any better than this. We had a very nice crowd to open the stage. They have reconfigured the Gazebo since last year. The winding steps leading straight down to it, which were always packed with people standing to listen making it hard to get in and out, are gone. The only way in is along the long sloping ramp off to the opposite corner of the parking lot. The area where the stairs had been has now been redone in very comfortable, wood, stadium seating down along the slope. The Gazebo footprint itself remains the same, but now there's room for more folks and you don't have to bring a chair to be able to sit like you used to. Frank Thomas has had a flu bug and played only a couple of tunes to get things started. Then he turned it over to me for a little longer than usual set of my Florida material. Wonderful audience and a wonderful response. As far as I'm concerned we could have formed a round and sat there swapping Florida tunes all day – what a great spot. The Gazebo is clearly my favorite stage here at the FFF and, as always, I'm honored that Frank included me. I spent an hour after the Gazebo show in a taped interview with a student from University of North Florida, Belinda Dalzell, who is gathering material for a book on the St. John's River and its tributaries focusing on the music, arts and culture surrounding the river. She had heard my Banks of the Old St. John's and wanted to include that in her collection of material for the book. Delightful young woman from New Zealand and she has fallen in love with Florida Folk Culture through her work on this project. Looking forward to reading it! After the interview I went down to the food area by the Old Marble Stage and gorged myself on fried chicken, collard greens, lima beans, corn bread and sweet potato pie, washed down with ample amounts of iced tea. Overeating cholesterol rich foods is alive and well on the Suwannee!! It's no accident that you have to walk so far to get to and from that food area – it's the only thing that keeps you from just eating yourself to death down there. They've had ongoing sound issues this year at the OMS, so I can't really even say who was playing there while I ate – I couldn't hear it and the sound mix was poor. But, as always, I ran into a lot of old friends and caught up on the latest from each. On my way back past the Amphitheatre to get to my car I made one of the most wonderful discoveries I could have imagined. Steve Blackwell's family, Carrie, Japhy, Sue (with spouses and grandkids all in tow) and Dan Leach were seated against the trees and they called out to me as I approached or I might not have seen them. Dan, Carrie and Japhy are performing at the festival under the name Still Friends – what great news for the Florida Folk family to have them back on stage!! At 6:30 last night I sat and listened as Stetson Kennedy presented Fellow Man and Mother Earth Awards to Dale Crider, Frank and Ann Thomas and Steve Blackwell. Each award was punctuated by song. Bob Patterson (with Carrie, Dan and Japhy's help) presented Apalachicola Doin' Time. Then it was all the Blackwell clan who sang Steve's song written about Frank and Ann, Thank You for Teaching Us, and Steve's thoughts about his own ancestors down through time and the prospect of joining them in The Line. Carrie's astounding voice rang through the Amphitheatre and embraced the entire audience. Then they brought the house down with their well known arrangement of Amazing Grace with Carrie's extraordinary vocals bringing goose bumps, tears and joyous grins to all assembled and a well deserved standing ovation. I daresay it will be remembered as THE MOMENT of this Florida Folk Festival. The evening's program was highlighted by Gabe Valla, one of the most talented guitarists I've ever seen. And, one of the most humble and genuine folks around. Such a great performance, but unfortunately marred by unending problems with the sound – feedback issues, level issues, you name it. It was the same last night as well as I mentioned. I don't know enough about sound to give any particularized critique or advice, but I do know this. The main stage at the most heavily attended folk music event in the state should rate the very best in sound presentation and engineers. Unfortunately that has not been the case either this year or in recent years past. Nevertheless, in true Gabe style, Gabe put on an excellent show and I wish we could have just brought him out into the audience, built a fire and listened to him play with out all the technical distractions. I did hit the campfires for a bit last night. Ron Johnson and I swapped new tunes. Interestingly, Ron selected the same topic as me for a new song, the great Labor Day storm of 1935. His is called Rescue Train, an excellent piece, and mine is, of course, Hemingway's Hurricane, which I posted about previously. It was fun to hear them back to back and contrast the approaches to the same subject. Next I sat in at a circle generally around Bill & Eli Perras, Tyler Stump and Maryanne Dinella's campsites. Bob Patterson, Clyde Walker, Ron & Bari Litschauer and others were kicking in tunes and I joined them for a couple of hours. But by 1:00 pm or so it was time to get horizontal, so I heeded the demands of the body and with the soul well fed headed back to the camper. More to come, stay tuned.