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Country Prose
by Charlie Hansen

By the time you read this I’ll be in the sunny south enjoying the warmer weather and looking for musical things to attend.

The lineups at some of the southern festivals this year look interesting and I’m sure we’ll be taking many of them in. Our new favourite place is Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa. It’s rustic to be sure but very comfortable and the food is good and the beer cold. The last Tuesday evening of every month they have a bluegrass band or two. Usually a national band and a local band as an opening act. This winter’s lineup includes Town Mountain and The Gibson Brothers in January and February. March’s dates are yet to be finalized.

Skipper’s is a very interesting venue. The Skipperdome is an outdoor space with large live oaks forming a canopy over the seating area that keeps away both heat and cold. This venue not only hosts bluegrass but also hosts the best of nationally known blues artists as well as rock, country and jazz.

This winter we also plan to attend a number of bluegrass festivals beginning at Yee Haw junction (an actual place name) which features Cody Shuler and Pine Mountain Railroad, Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice, Jerry Butler and The Blue J’s, The Roys and a number of local groups. Next up is the Palatka festival which features The Seldom Scene, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, The James King Band, The Crowe Brothers, The Bluegrass Brothers, The Grascals, Dailey & Vincent and for all the country music fans, Gene Watson and The Farewell Party Band.

There are many other festivals in Florida during the winter but one of the bigger ones is Magnolia Fest in Live Oak featuring Emmy Lou Harris, Del McCoury Band, Donna The Buffalo and Bonnie Raitt. This, as you can see, isn’t nearly all bluegrass but a great festival none the less.

There’s always lots of other stuff to do that keeps us busy and we’ll be keeping you abreast of all the happenings both good and bad (or good and not so good). Jams in Zephyr Park will be in full swing by the time we arrive and old friendships will be renewed as the northerners trickle in. After the new year sets in the trickle becomes a torrent and remains that way until early April and the falls reverses.

Before I sign off for this month I hope everyone had a great Christmas and will have a happy and prosperous new year. It’s great to be able to chronicle our adventures every month and I hope we can continue for many years to come.

Good luck to all the nominees at the Music PEI awards. I’ll be watching closely from the south.

Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9PM on CFCY FM 95.1 in Charlottetown and on the web at cfcy.fm.

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