Notes from the Road – Florida Folk Festival, Friday May 23, 2008 “Well I woke up this moanin, Lord the rain was fallin’ down . . . yeah I woke up this moanin’ and they was clouds hangin’ down . . . raindrops on my rooftop I hope it’s better than it sounds . . . “ Yeah, I got the “rain the first day of the festival blues. Not heavy rain, just steady. I really hope it clears before noon so that folks will come on out. C’mon weatherman do that voodoo that you do! Been up for a while playing some tunes and watching it rain. Surprisingly it’s not depressing – it’s very cool and comfortable out, peaceful and quiet. However, it will be no picnic getting to the stages today if this keeps up. Gonna go have some coffee, wash up and head over to see what’s happening – more later. Amazingly enough, the rain stopped, but it stayed overcast – not the fry your brains hot brutal sun we’re used to for this fest. Wonderful. It’s still pretty muggy, but by comparison to past events quite comfortable. And the crowd seems to be the usual for the opening Friday. A lot of folks can’t make it until Saturday, so Friday, though well attended, is a little slower. Got over to the fest grounds at around 11:30, dropped off my CD’s at the FOFF sales booth and then made my way around to the Under the Oaks Stage. It’s a stage I’ve never played before over near the ranger information building and in the middle of all the food vendors – a great location for midday and id did not disappoint. I had a very solid set before a healthy and responsive crowd. In fact I’ve rarely received as much after show congrats from audience and other performers alike. It was a good time to be “on” because following me was Amy Carol Webb. So not only was I playing for my folks and wanderers by who I pulled in, but also for her fans who came early to get a good seat. It was a high quality, demanding crowd and I had a blast performing for them! And, of course, I had the bonus of getting a big hug from Amy and getting to hear her set while I shoveled down a blue crab burrito from one of the nearby vendors. After Amy’s set Judy headed off to see The Ashley Gang (friends Al Scortino, Norm McDonald, Michelle, et al) and I went over to the Seminole Camp stage to hear Sam Pacetti. Sam is one of those rare talents – an absolute peerless wizard of fingerstyle guitar. I’ve known him for many years and he never ceases to amaze me. Watch for that name and if he’s ever within 1 ½ of you GO! You won’t be disappointed. He was followed by my pals Lon & Lis Williamson, Jason Thomas and Mickey Abramson – a/k/a Gatorbone. Jason is the fiddler for the renowned Claire Lynch Band and spends much of his time on the road (actually, in the air all over the world). But he is at his best with Lis & Lon, two of the finest musicians and people you’ll ever see or meet. This group has a ton of fun together and the crowd is just drawn into it. The style is Gypsy Jazz to western swing to bluegrass to folk and its ALL GOOOD! Another don’t miss act. Since we were right by the food vendors at the south gate (all of the churches in the cooking pavilion) we went ahead and pigged out for an early dinner. This is southern cooking at its very “cholesterol be damned” “to hell with weight” “ eat ‘til it hurts” best. We’re talkin’ fried chicken, collard greens, peas, okra, cornbread, sweet potato pie, etc. – yeah, you got it, OUTSTANDING!! And, the bonus was that we got to eat all that while we listened to our buds, The Roadside Revue, do a great set on the Old Marble Stage. I just doesn’t get any better. We came back to the camper for a bit to rest and clean up, then headed back to catch Ben Prestage on the Amphitheatre Stage at 7:30. Blues and Travis style picking that’ll knock your socks off – that’s Ben Prestage. From the Southeast coast area he is another talent that you simply should not miss if you get the chance to catch him. High energy, exceptional guitar work, self accompanied by foot operated drums he is a modern day one man band. He got a standing ovation and an encore – well deserved. Next was a FFF standard and favorite son, Jim Carrick. Another magnificent finger style player, Jim favored the hill side Amphitheatre crowd with old standards, including Michael Smith’s “The Dutchman.” Terrific set. Time to hit the campfires. We couldn’t get parked where we wanted so we had to hike in. The first place we came to is where we ended up staying all evening – with Joe and Katie Waller, Jim and (opps, braindead) Robertson, Lonnie & Marsha Hardesty and, later, the MT Pawketts crowd, Jeff Frieberg, Kace Montgomery, et al. We jammed and swapped tunes until near midnight before better judgment sent us packing. We did stop in at Ron and Bari Litschauer’s campdite for a nightcap and a song or tow, but then off to bed. Tomorrow it’s the River Gazebo Stage with Frank Thomas at noon – more tomorrow – G’nite!