What a gorgeous day. This was one of those days so perfect that you instinctively know to be thankful. I started relatively early, around 7 a.m. I’d been awake for about an hour laying here in the camper dozing and thinking. That’s usually when song ideas, rewrites, etc. start to percolate and that’s what happened today. So, I got up, put some coffee on and went out to build a fire. It was very cool, 50’s, quiet and beautiful. My fire was one of the first going. I eased back inside (careful to leave the queen in slumber), got coffee, my old Martin 000-18 and a long sleeve shirt (hey, I said it was chilly) and parked out by the fire. You know, I could get used to this. The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park is just a great facility. There is so much going on here all the time, even when there’s no festival. Right on the Suwannee so there’s canoeing, a large crafts village (retail area), a well stocked country store for supplies, a nice restaurant, horse stables and riding trails, you name it. If you’re looking to get away for the weekend of camping this is the place to come. Campsites are almost all shaded and there’s lots of area for both full hook-ups, primitive camping and everything in between, including rental cabins. It’s really first rate. Once Judy roused an hour or so later, I got the computer out so I could send out my “Notes” posts, answer email, etc. I’ve discovered that there is wireless here in the park, but reception is spotty so I got my cell phone out to connect up (it’s set up to work as a wireless, hi-speed connection). I had a missed call and a message which turned out to be from the Ocala Star Banner wanting to interview me for a piece on the upcoming Will McLean Festival. So, I returned the call and spent a half hour or so on the line with ace reporter (I hope) Tony Violanti. Hopefully I didn’t say anything too stupid. Then I logged on and did my internet thing. You know, sometimes you’re just too comfortable where you’re at to actually get going and go hear some music (I know, I know, I’ll rot in . . . etc., etc.,). I wrote, practiced, sent emails, ate lunch, wrote more, napped – wonderful. So, the first act I saw was Josh Pinkham and the Pinkham Family at 3:40 p.m. To say that Josh is a hot mandolin player is like saying a nuke is just a big firecracker – wow! And you know what, daddy Pinkham’s a damned fine guitar / banjo player his own self. Plus, mom is a great soulful, bluesy vocalist. Wouldn’t want to challenge those folks to a family talent contest! Next, The Claire Lynch Band with my friend Jason Thomas on fiddle and mandolin. Of course, many of you know him from his work with Valla, Turner, Williamson, his appearances in Winter Garden at The Attic Door, etc. The CLB was terrific. Claire has such a tremendous bluegrass voice and the band is exceptionally tight. Jason is without a doubt one of the cleanest (if not the cleanest) fiddle and mando players out there. This gig with Claire Lynch has been his biggest break yet (I would think) and so well deserved – man what a talent. After that I got a chance to chat a bit with Lis Williamson and then head back to the camper for supplies before getting a bite to eat and watching Gatorbone over on the Florida Stage. While I was ambling about I bumped into John William Davis who regaled me with his story of driving from his home in Georgia out to Swallow Hill in Denver in his old beat up Volvo to play a gig with Jack Williams. Sounded like the pouring rain and threats of flooding in the Midwest were quite harrowing as he traveled through. Glad he got there and back without incident. The vendor area for this event is huge. There is a lot more variety for food than is usually the case at most festivals (except, of course, the Florida Folk Fest, which has the advantage of the Nelly Bly’s area). So I had a fried gator tail burrito (see what I mean) and headed over to the Old Florida Stage. Gatorbone was superb. Their sound is just one of my favorites. Lis has one of the best voices out there and I’m so jealous of her right hand technique on the guitar – gotta get her to give me a lesson or two (or 12). I am also always impressed with Lon’s vocals, particularly on his own material. Since Jason was here with Claire Lynch he got to rejoin Lis & Lon for this set. However Gabe Valla couldn’t make the trip, so Mickey Abraham from the Aaron O’Rourke trio sat in on Mando and Guitar. This guy’s another hot, hot player. He and Jason got into a little “deliverance-esque” challenge and respond on mando and fiddle. Jason topped him, breaking into a little “Andy Griffith” melody right in tempo. But, it was ruled a low blow and the duel was a draw – too funny. Next on my list was the Wayback’s on the Amphitheatre Stage. I became an instant fan two years ago when they just blew me away at Gamble Rogers. They have such energy and presence with tremendous instrumental and vocal technique. However, they are one member short for this fest. The older (notice I did not say old) member who plays acoustic guitar and leads most of the banter is, for some reason, absent. He really seemed to be the center of the group and without him, though they were still great, I was a little disappointed – didn’t have the same synergy on stage. So, then back to the camper around 10 or so, built a campfire and played tunes, drank wine and wooed Judy for a couple of hours before turning in. A great part of the entertainment each day is watching the antics of the hordes around us in the campground. This is a partying bunch – not necessarily loud and raucous, in fact quite polite and accommodating. However, far from sober and very amusing to watch. Lots of kids too just having a grand time getting to stay up late and dash about unencumbered. All in all, quite an interesting gathering. More tomorrow – stay tuned!!