Notes from the Road – Florida Folk Festival – Prologue, Thursday, May 22, 2008 Memorial Day weekend is upon us and it’s time for the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs just north of where I-75 crosses I-10 in north Florida. We spent the morning getting clothes together, planning limited meals, getting instruments together and loading the camper – it’s all the nit-picking that builds the anticipation for any trip or festival. We got on the road around 1:30 pm, later than we intended as usual, and were a little concerned about the overcast skies and drizzling, intermittent rain. Weather.com says we can expect scattered showers throughout the weekend in White Springs. At least it’ll b3e a little cooler than it usually is for Memorial Day weekend. The first shock was stopping to fill up with gas. I think I’ll rename the substance “GASP.” I should have filled up in town before getting on the highway. On the Turnpike it was $3.99 for regular – nothing regular about it. I didn’t fill up all the way since the pump shut me off at $75.00 and I didn’t have the heart to swipe the credit card again. So we decided to assuage our pain with coffees and ice-cream (also pricey by the way). It’s a good thing that folk music pays so well (wish I could put a laugh track into this thing). However, I made my first folkie pal sighting – Barry Brogan was “lurking” (and those of you who know Barry know what he looks like when he lurks) near the ice-cream machine. We exchanged quick hellos, but were both anxious to get back on the road. We pressed on through the Turnpike and onto I-75 – traffic was nuts. I was dragging the 24’ Coachman and pushing 75 – 80+ mph the whole way and was constantly getting nasty looks from folks passing left right and otherwise as if I were crawling long, LORD HELP ME, at the speed limit. Around the Ocala area I closed in on a van with a license plate that read “FOLKY” and had a Friends of Florida Folk bumper sticker, so I was sure I’d know them. Yep, Bill Messer and Marg Chauvin from down in West Palm – We honked as we blew by, Billy being a much more conservative driver than I. We roared into White Springs just after 4 pm. Just in time too as my $75 worth of GASP was already depleted. Checked in at the main office in the square near the park entrance. As I walked into the building I could hear my buddy Grant Livingston playing on the house stereo system. At the artists’ check-in I found Bari Litschauer and Verni Hardwicke handling my part of the alphabet so I got to say some more hellos and get checked in on a first class basis. On to the campground – we don’t stay at the campground on the festival site at Stephen Foster. It gets very crowded and most folks that stay there come in a week or more ahead of time to get their traditional spots. I get a camping pass so I can go campfire hopping at night, but for the sake of a good night’s sleep we stay at Kelly’s Campground just a couple of miles from the festival entrance. It’s very convenient and quiet, plus they always give me a rock star’s reception here. I’m not kidding, they always call me to get my reservation, call again later to confirm it, get me a spot near the showers like I like and then fawn over me when I arrive. You’d think I was SOMEBODY the way they treat me here (I have a feeling the treat everyone that way, but I like to think it’s just me). I HIGHLY recommend Kelly’s if you’re coming up for the festival or any time of year. After we got set up and settled in we headed on over to the festival grounds to see what was cookin’. Everybody’s streaming in. We got our campground pass and ran into Grant Peeples at the front gate. We cruised on around past Tom Shed’s massive motor mansion to the humble but hearty Roadside Revue site shared by Ron & Bari Litschauer, Stan Geberer and his lovely Kathy, Clyde and Loreli Walker and, later, Dawn and Charles DeWitt. That had out the hors d’oerves and tequila – HOME!!! We stayed and chatted a bit. Ron and I planned recording sessions for later this year on the two CD projects I’m working on. We gossiped some – the good kind, not the petty kind (ok, maybe a little). We called Dawn on the cell phone back in West Palm to see when they were likely to get on the road and to make her jealous because we were already funnin’ it up. We even sang an impromptu and pretty maudlin version of Happy Trails to her to end the call. Tequila is a magnificent substance. Back to the camper to get some dinner and chill. I don’t think we’ll be campfiring tonight – I’m going to hang close to home, practice for tomorrow’s set on the Under the Oaks stage at 1:30 pm, sip a little whiskey and otherwise relax. That’s how you spend your first day on the road to the Florida Folk Festival, the granddaddy of them all. See you tomorrow.