Tuesday, February 28, 2006

06-08 Florida Folk Festival, Steven Foster St Park Florida

(8) On The Road Again
The Florida Folk Festival, Steven Foster State Park

White Springs, Fl

I’m back in White Springs for the Folk Festival. I road my bike in the first day, and wondered between the 12 stages listening to musicians like Vicki Genfan, now living in N.J. Marie Nofsinger a Florida award singer, Panama Red with his really died red hair but what a singer. Groups like One Street Over and Lucky Mud. Bobby Hicks told Florida stories through his songs and sang about the Michigan family coming to Florida in their Winnebago. Seems most Fla. folk singers dislike “Northerners”. And tolerate us as long as we don’t tell them how to do it better, or complain about the heat etc. I particularly liked Mathew Sabatell and the Rambling Gamblers. He, with his dark long hair and smooth rich deep voice that commanded attention when he sang. Unlike some of the other musicians, he wasn’t afraid to use the mike and belt out a good tune.

Oh, Marie Nofsinger sang a song about a guy in her town who wasn’t quite right. You know, the one that’s in every town, he gets along, but has his own “problems”. No one ever knows what they are, Drugs in the past, Vietnam, or some other problems to big to handle.

It reminded me of Penny Annie. An old lady in my hometown of Houghton Michigan. We kids would see her when my Mom would take us downtown. Penny Annie would be searching for pennies fallen around the parking meters or phone booths. Us kids made fun of her and our Mom let us know that we were never to make fun of Penny Annie. That what ever caused her to have to look for pennies to buy day old loaf of bread or such, we had know right to put her down. And even though we’d look for pennies ourselves from that time out, we knew not to take them, because they were for Penny Annie.

Strange how something like a folk festival in Florida can bring back memories and lessons in life from Michigan.

On Saturday, I spent the whole day at the festival into the evening. It’s been pretty muggy and hot the past couple of days, so I went down to the Suwannee River and jumped in the river to cool off, along with dozens of kids and folks ready to cool off for a while. The water was warm as the river is barely flowing and dark as black tea with all the tannin from the trees.

All my buddies from The Great Outdoors Club came up and we had a grand time wandering in every direction possible. Meeting up every so often to talk or listen to a group. John, Katie, David L and David B, Manny, and Mario and Kim.

The lead act in the evening was Rosanne Cash, she was late getting on stage so we opted to listen to another group called the Haitian Voduo Pop group hosted by Papaloko and Loray Mistik. An interesting group mixing Haitian drums, electric guitar, rhythmic dance and a high priest dressed all in white. They were from Miami and some of my buddies had just driven up from Miami. How odd is that?

I listened to the Florida heritage awards, including the fiddle contest winners. It was kind of sad listening to the heritage award winners, as there were none originally from Florida that I could tell. A sad note on the vanishing heritage of Florida. One of the winners was originally from Michigan (of course) who learned to make utilitarian duck decoys from his grandfather. Bringing back that skill with him to Florida. Thus, making him a Florida heritage winner. Even the native Seminole Indians were absent this year.

The singer, and I’m sorry I don’t remember her name, who finally had the guts to sing a song about being glad she wasn’t a native Floridian. Her song told of the non-native Floridians for helped save the Everglades when the “native” Floridians let it be ravaged and other non-Floridians who love this wonderful state too and are willing to shed blood to protect what’s left of it. It validated who I am and many non-native Floridians who love this state so much and want to help preserve the best it has to offer. Helped to offset the “humorous songs” about us “northerners” coming to Florida in their Winnebago’s.

Note: The Steven Foster State Park celebrates the life and music of Steven Foster who made the Suwannee River famous with his song “Way down upon the Suwannee river“ which I think the actual name of the song is “Old Folks Home“. Steven Foster probably never saw the Suwannee river but you can learn more about his music and songs at the museum, see some pianos he used to compose some of his songs and view the wonderful dioramas.
On the last day, Sunday, I went back to the Festival, even though it was super hot out. But I did get a chance to hear a who slew of country singers including Mathew Sabatell again. He sang some really great old songs you may remember. Like, Jimmy Crack Corn, The Old Grey Goose, and Oh Susanna by Steven Foster of course.

Memorial Day Fun! Wow, then I met up with my Great Outdoors buddies for a grand trip down the Ichetucknee Springs River. It’s just north of High Springs Fla. and is one of those wonderfully canopied spring fed rivers. Cool crystal clear water. It’s famous for tubing down the 6 plus miles, or you can do the 3 mile run as well. Rent a tube outside the park, then the park provide shuttles back up the river, so you can tube it all day long. What an awesome way to spend a Memorial Day weekend. Good friends, cool water, laughter, slowly gliding down the Ichetucknee, the Real Florida. Afterward, a great BBQ topped of with apple pie and ice-cream. Yum!

A great ending to my stay in Florida before heading up north.

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