by Charlie Hansen
There were lots of things happening in Zephyrhills area this month. First of all we took a trip up to Sunshine Raceway in Richland to watch the trot breds on a pleasant Sunday afternoon. It’s a lot of fun to watch these little horses strut their stuff on a 5/16 mile track. Most of the horses are owned by northerners that relocate to Florida for the winter and bring their “hobby” horses with them.
Next we took the obligatory trip to PEI Day at Fort DeSoto to see who we could see from home. Again a lovely Florida day. Lots of people gathered to have their picnics under the palms and listen to music played by I sland folks that winter in Florida. JP Gaudet, again, was emcee for the event and always does a great job keeping things moving.
Finally we took a trip up to Inglis to attend The Withlacoochee River Bluegrass Festival. This festival has been in existence for many years and at one time featured the top names in Bluegrass music. Due to family health problems the festival was forced to take a five year hiatus but has been reactivated in recent years and is beginning to build into a fine festival once again.
The acts were mostly local or people from the area that are higher up the bluegrass food chain and appreciate an opportunity to return home to the stage where it all began for them. The groups featured at this festival were Pasture Prime, Wry Whiskey, Xtremegrass, The Scott and Amanda Anderson Band, The Trinity River Band as well as Shannon and Heather Slaughter and County Clare. The County Clare Band was the one that we wanted to see because they are going to be at The PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival in July. They played a good solid set of mostly originals written by Shannon. Shannon and Heather have great individual vocals and harmony and all in all are a very good contemporary bluegrass band.
The band that stole the show for me was The Trinity River Band. This band is from Callahan Florida and were formerly known as The Harris Family. All members of the group are from one family and they are all extremely talented. Sarah, who does the bulk of the lead vocals has a brilliant voice and is a very good mandolin player. I would predict that she will have a long and successful career in bluegrass. She is charming on the stage and, I would say, has one of the best female voices in bluegrass. She was nominated as female vocalist of the year at 2013 IBMA. The rest of the band, dad Mike, mom Lisa, brother Josh and sister Brianna are all very talented multi instrumentalists.
Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Buegrass Island on CFCY 95.1 FM in Charlottetown and at cfcy.fm.