Notes from the Road – Barberville Spring Frolic Saturday, April 26th – Gorgeous weather and a perfect Saturday morning to kick off another annual Barberville Spring Frolic at the Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts just west of the intersection of Highway 17 and SR 40 in Voulsia County, Florida (that’s a little northwest of Deleon Springs / DeLand, almost due east of Ocala and west by southwest of Ormond Beach). Every Spring musicians from throughout the State gather with craftsman of all types to celebrate our native culture on the historic grounds of the Settlement. Thanks go to Joe & Katie Waller for their herculean and selfless efforts in organizing, scheduling and supervising the music – outstanding job guys! A little bit about the Settlement: The Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts, Inc. was established as an educational institution whose general nature and objective is to render constructive, educational, and cultural services to the community through collection, preservation, conservation and exposition of objects which are the cultural heritage of the community. A dedicated program of preserving artifacts, buildings and local history is ongoing. This program consists of permanent and rotating exhibits, workshops on identifying and cataloguing artifacts, research of local history topics, and a program for interpreting history, and the exhibits and collections. Growing attendance over the years has created a demand for more space and the Settlement moved local and regional historically significant buildings onto the property. As a result a historical "village" setting emerged. Featured structures include: 1982: Pierson Railroad Depot (c. 1885) 1983: Astor Bridgekeeper's House (c. 1926) 1984: Turpentine Comm./Store (c. early 1900s) 1988: Turpentine Still (c. 1924) 1989: Pottery Shed (c. 1920s) 1992: Lewis Log Cabin (c. 1875) 1994: Midway United Methodist Church (c. 1890) 1996: Huntington Post Office (c. 1885) 1997: Quarters House (c. 1920s) 1998: The Pastime touring boat (c. 1910) Through the years, additional workshops were built to exhibit various historical trades and lifeways: Print Shop, Wheelwright Shop/Carriage House, Woodwright Shop, Blacksmith Shop, and Timucuan-Myacca and Seminole Villages. There is also a myriad of farm animals and birds in residence, including a rambunctious pen full of peacocks who in the Spring are in full strut and very vocal. You’d really enjoy this place and if you haven’t been there, particularly with kids or grandkids, you are missing out. I arrived at around 10 a.m. Saturday to check in and get ready for my set in the Church at 11 a.m. A beautiful Spring morning – blue skies, sun was shining, peacocks were caterwauling, Port-O-Lets were fresh . . . ok, too much information. I followed Rog Lee in the Church before a small, but appreciative early day crowd. The Church is one of my favorite venues in the Settlement – the acoustics are awesome. The set included a new tune, As the Crow Flies, which was very well received and folks stuck around afterwards to buy CD’s, which is always appreciated! Judy and I went ahead and had lunch at around 11:30 or so and just beat the rush. By the time I got our thick burgers and huge, fat hotdogs the lines were 20 or more deep. Timing is everything! After we finished we ambled over to the Bridgehouse stage for the end of Barry Brogan’s set, followed by The Ashley Gang and then Susie Cool and the Coolottes (minus Stuart Hall who on conflicting reports was either kidnapped by a group of etiquette terrorists or finally arrested on those outstanding warrants). Excellent sets by all. I also slipped over to the Barn Stage nearby to hear a little of Bill & Eli Perras’ set. I wasn’t able to spend time with Bill & Eli this weekend, probably because they’ve gone big time after the publication of their great review in Sing Out! And, consequently, they are now being hounded by the folk paparazzi – a tough crowd indeed! My next set was at 2:30 on the Sugar Cane Stage following Pete Easton and the Possum Pickers. Man has that group grown!! There were so many musicians on stage (well actually, on and around the stage – couldn’t get even half of them actually on the platform) that if the crowd had gotten the least bit unruly I think the band could have taken them! I’d hate to be a roadie for that crowd! Had a wonderful set there with my “fan of the day” Sherry singing along to every song I did from my 2005 Truths & Lies CD. Sherry made every one of my three performances on Saturday and bought a copy of my newest CD, Break Some Stones. So, I suspect she’ll be singing along with all of those tunes by the next festival. What a wonderful compliment! And, we learned just after my set that one of my original MySpace pals and devoted fan, Kim from Eustis is engaged to Hartley from Leesburg! Congrats guys! After that set we slipped over to the Family Stage and heard a little Jackson Creek (Joe & Katie Waller, etc.), chatted with old friends and dawdled in the shade. All of this fun was working up an appetite and, since I needed to eat early anyway, we decided to head over to the Blackwater Inn on the St. John’s at Astor for an early supper. Fingerling catfish!! Yum . . . . We got back in time to catch Ron & Mary (that’d be Johnson and Matthews for the uninitiated) on the Barn Stage. Great set with tunes both old and new. Ron included his song, Rescue Train, about the great 1935 labor day Hurricane that hit the Florida Keys, the same subject as my tune, Hemingway’s Hurricane. Ron and Mary always put a lot of energy into their show. Nice job guys. I had to skip out after that to go tune up for my last set. The best part of the day was the evening line-up on the Barn Stage. I played at 7 p.m. to a sizeable and enthusiastic crowd. Then I got to kick back and relax as some of my all time favorites performed: James Hawkins and Cold Harbor, then The Ashley Gang, then M.T.Pawketts and last, but not least, Jackson Creek. This was first rate music in a unique and wonderful setting. And to think, all of this could have been yours too for a meager $6 admission for the entire day! If you weren’t there you really missed out! Sunday, April 27th Judy decided to stay at home and work on Sunday so I was flying solo for Sunday. My first appearance was at Noon teaching a songwriting workshop with James Hawkins and Ron Johnson. I got on site a little before 11 a.m. and went over to see Stevens, Worrell and McKee on the Sugar Cane stage. Great show. These guys are all three first rate pickers and Worrell is equally lethal with a guitar or a mandolin. Check them out. I grabbed one of those big fat hotdogs and an iced tea and headed back to the Barn Stage to hear Mullet Run followed by Salt Lick Serenade. Excellent presentations of standards and old favorites. Much fun to listen to and the audience was stomping feet, clapping hands and singing along enthusiastically. The songwriting workshop was a relaxed affair where we played some tunes, told the stories behind some of our songs and talked about the process a little. It’s always hard to decide what to do that might be meaningful in a one hour workshop, but they always seem to take on a life of their own and lead you to where the folks want to go. So, I always enjoy them. Now I had a break from 1 until 2:30 when I returned for my last set at the Barn Stage. I found a grassy, shady spot, took out the guitar and noodled around on it while I enjoyed the weather. Even go a couple of melody ideas sitting there. It also gave me time to plan out my last set which I decided would be an “all Florida” set of my historical / State based material. I got to the stage in time to hear the end of another Stevens, Worrell and McKee show while I got tuned up and then took the stage for the final time for this edition of Barberville. True to my plan I played four of my Florida tunes (Banks of the Old St. Johns [my Will McLean winner in 1997], A Mother’s Tears, Land of Sunshine, State of Dreams [my 3rd place Will McLean finisher this year] and a new tune about moonshing in North Florida, Yellow Butter Moon. Then my audience stepped in with a request – always welcome of course – for Annie’s Chairs. And then I finished out with my song for Steve Blackwell, Welcome Home. I stayed long enough to pack up and sell a few more CD’s while I listened to Starbird in the background and then headed for the car (I’d promised Judy I’d get home early and take her to a movie). And so ends another terrific Barberville Spring Frolic. They do it all again in the fall in November there in the Pioneer Settlement for the Creative Arts so mark your calendars for November 1 & 2!! Thanks again Joe & Katie for a wonderful, well run event!