Notes from the Road – Suwannee Springfest – Saturday, March 29th Never seen better festival weather, absolutely gorgeous! Much the same routine this morning though Judy and I rose at about the same time – right at the crack of 8 a.m. Made coffee, built a fire and chatted across the path with a neighbor who had been deep into the tequila and other reality altering refreshments yesterday. He declared that he was sure there had been two moons last night and then hopped into his rented golf cart which backed (much too fast past one tree ripping the windshield from its mounts and then slammed into a tree behind him badly denting the rear cargo grate. I don’t think the moons have set just yet!!! Seems good things happen when I’m out relaxing like this. Yesterday a news interview and today a new songwriting award. My friend Jan Seides in Austin emailed me to congratulate me on winning an honors award in the Great American Song Contest. “Break Some Stones” finished in the top 20 in the Folk / Acoustic category out of approximately 2000 entries. Cool! Our daughter Jessi, who is a Junior at FSU, came over this morning to join us for today and tomorrow. Her boyfriend drove her and dropped her off. One criticism I have for the fest is the difficulty you go through trying to get through security just to get to where you pay to get in. Despite explanations, she could not get past the front gate (the one out on the highway) to get down to the ticket area without me coming out to get her. Even beyond the front gate there were two more security check points (this because I already had a sticker on my car showing I had entered earlier and was, therefore, suspicious entering again), not to look for contraband of course, but to be sure someone wasn’t smuggling in “festival illegals” without paying the required fees - still before you even get to ticketing. This is poor commentary on the perceived character of the crowd attending the fest. OK, rant concluded. I haven’t caught up to a lot of the folks I know that are here – Clyde Walker, Marie Nofsinger, etc. But I have bumped into many friends including the stellar Larry Mangum from Jacksonville and Ray Lewis who does such a great job promoting music in and around the Jacksonville area. Larry came over Thursday night to root for Chelsea Saddler in the songwriter finals. I tried to convince him to stick around and swap some tunes, but he had to get on to the drive back to Jax. Ray, however, is here for the whole program and I’ve bumped into him several times. And, I met Patti Petow, my MySpace friend and music promoter from St. Pete, who I’d never seen face to face before. Check out Patti’s MySpace page. She has an interesting internet video hosting business for musicians and others that is quite unique. I also got a chance to talk a while with Gloria Holloway. It was really different because Gloria was standing on an earthen ledge in the amphitheater so that she was up almost on eye level with me. Not used to talking eye to eye with her – never above a “short” joke, am I? My listening schedule today was all at the Amphitheatre Stage. At 3 p.m. was Guy Clark who was, as always, personal, engaging and relaxed. He was backed by Verlon Thompson on guitar, a great songwriter in his own right. Based on shouts from the crowd, Guy played one old favorite after another. Only one new tune came during the one hour set – kind of a sequel to LA Freeway. Good song. I’m always a little disappointed when you have the opportunity to hear a great songwriter like Guy Clark who you can be certain always has a sack of new songs he’s carrying around and yet all the crowd wants to hear are the ones they have at home on the CD which they’ve played a gazillion times. I’m waiting for one of my idols like Guy to step out for a one hour set and announce that at least half of it is going to be songs you’ve never heard before. Guess that doesn’t necessarily sell CD’s unless they’re on a new one you’ve just released. Nevertheless . . . Jim Lauderdale was next – last year’s Grammy winner for best bluegrass album. At various points in the show he was joined by Josh Pinkham and the Pinkham family and the Infamous Stringdusters. Great set, though the sound mix for them was difficult given the number of instruments and folks coming and going. So, the sound turned out a little “muddy” for much of his set. Nevertheless, very enjoyable. Now, Claire Lynch was next and since I had seen them on Friday I considered going to get something to eat, etc. while they did their show. But, I enjoy Jason’s work so much I decided to stick with them. Boy, am I glad I did! They put on one helluva set including a tremendous swing tune written by the group’s guitar player which featured Jason on the mandolin. To my delight, they covered a song by our good friend Don Oja-Dunaway, one of favorites of his, Kennesaw Line. Then they concluded the show with a rousing version of Wabash Cannonball that included a solo by the bass player bowing the standup bass in a bluegrass tune – I know, you’ll have to take my word for it. Just an outstanding set. Last for my listening pleasure and amazement was David Grisman and his quintet. Calling what he does “Dawg Music”, I didn’t realize that his nickname, Dawg, was given to him by his close friend Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. "Dawg Music" is his mixture of bluegrass and Django Reinhardt-Stéphane Grappelli-influenced jazz, as highlighted on his 1977 album "Hot Dawg". It was Grisman's combination of Reinhardt-era Jazz, bluegrass, folk, Old World Mediterranean string band music, as well as modern Jazz fusion that came to embody "Dawg" music. Grisman, along with New Grass Revival are generally considered the modern day interpreters of the new bluegrass-influenced fusion sound, sometimes called newgrass. (quoted from Wikipedia). Man, what a show. Such a combination of astounding musicians and masterful arrangement. It was so high energy and intense that at the end of their one-hour set, plus encore, I was pooped! Grisman says that if you go to his Acoustic Disc website every day there is a different tune of his you can download for free – I have a new addition to my daily ritual. Though I’ve got a couple of his CD’s already he is very prolific with about 20 CD’s still in print. He says that if you go to the site every day for ten months you’ll have them all! After Grisman’s show I came back to the camper, built a fire, chatted with Judy and Jessi, played tunes per their request, chatted with passing neighbors and sipped wine until near midnight. Don’t know if I’ll see any shows tomorrow since my plan is to get the camper loaded and drop it somewhere in Dunnellon near the campground for Willfest next weekend. I’m primed and ready to play. This has been a great weekend. Very relaxing, great music, friends and weather. But, Monday is bearing down and time to start looking towards the next adventure. Stay tuned.