Monday, February 18, 2008 @6:40:00 PM
Update for Palatka Bluegrass festival: We have returned and had a fun time. The folks at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch were very accommodating. We arrived on Thursday and set up our little pop-up in the midst of RV city. The size of the RV’s is unbelievable any more especially with the expandable sides and awnings. The standard sites that were originally built for the old Airstream and Holiday trailers hardly fit these behemoths. The guys on either side of us had huge 36 foot trailers hauled by their fifth wheel, dual-axle pick-ups. My brother-in-law hauls a rented 30-foot RV and it was dwarfed by the neighbors’ rigs. The good thing about this arrangement was that the neighbors were friendly and, well, neighborly. Nuff’ said.
There is only one stage for this festival and it is housed in a huge, tin roof shed about the length of a football field. There are bathrooms and showers built on one side in the center of the pavilion and a concrete structure that houses the concession and small boutique at the end opposite the stage. Those sitting about three-fourths of the way back have a large projection screen available for a better view of the stage performers. The tin roof was an issue only on Thursday night when a huge front passed through and it stormed good and heavy for about an hour. Unless you were close to the stage and speakers, it created a pretty good din that drowned out the performers at times. I’ll also say, the tin roof notwithstanding, that the sound system and the sound management were superb. No hissing, cracking, popping or sudden silences were evident at any of the performances we heard. The instrumentation was well miced and the singers didn’t drown out everything else. Good job!
Steep Canyon Rangers are a personal favorite of R and me. Fantastic performances and the fiddling was superb. Great musicians the whole lot, really. Got to talk with Mike, the mandolin player, at the CD table and we got on the subject of different bluegrass festivals. He really talked up Rocky Grass as one of the band's favorites. When R mentionned that she has a sister living in Denver, Mike concluded, "Well, that's it, you really have to go." It piqued my interest. We'll have to look into it.
The Grascals put on a couple of good performances despite their coming down with a cold after their tour in the great, white north. They were friendlier and more at ease this time than the previous performances I’ve seen them at. They talked about their experiences on the road and the tough times they had hauling a small supply trailer for their instruments and equipment that they guys actually took turns sleeping in.
I got to meet Keith Arneson of Country Current, the U.S. Navy Bluegrass Band. He was walking through the crowd on his way to the green room to get in his dress blues before the evening performance. Country Current put on a couple of fine shows and I’m impressed<