by Charlie Hansen
Lots of things are happening in the south this month. It’s not hard to find country or bluegrass music within a stones throw of home and most of it top rate.
We’ll start this month’s column with a tip of the hat to one of bluegrass/gospel’s most enduring groups, the Lewis Family. This group has performed bluegrass/gospel and comedy, an unlikely combination, for sixty years and although the sisters, except for Janice are long past their prime the show is still quite entertaining with Little Roy’s antics being the center piece. They played the Pasco County fair, (picture the Dundas Plowing Match on steroids), early in March and played to a sold out crowd. Of course the admission was free so that may account for some of the overflow crowd although the love that people hold for The Lewis Family also draws the folks in free or not.
Our next stop was at the Florida Strawberry Festival to see Connie Smith and Marty Stuart. Now since I’m a huge Connie Smith fan, it goes without saying that I enjoyed the show from start to finish. Even though Connie is 67 she still shows the joy of a teenager when it comes to music. Every song is as fresh as it was when first recorded and her band is a top notch country quartet with drums, bass, guitar, and pedal steel that you can actually hear. After Connie opened the show with a half hour set husband Marty sauntered onto the stage and did an hour set of his hits joined by Connie for the last fifteen minutes. What can I say about Marty Stuart except that Marty was being Marty and in fine form. He’s funny, in command and, above all, extremely talented. All in all a very enjoyable afternoon. So enjoyable was the Strawberry Festival that we were nearly tempted to go back to see Jessica Simpson and her new country act but in the end we passed. To most music fans in the Tampa Bay area Brittany Spears’ semi-live performance at the St. Pete Times Forum won the battle of the blondes.
Our last stop on the March tour was Islander Day at Fort DeSoto to see old friends and make some new ones. The eighth annual event was the largest to date and the attendance was estimated at eight hundred. The weather was stellar, entertainment down home and, Cecil MacEachern was at his finest on the fiddle, playing tunes and backing up several singers. Cecil just seems to get better with age.
We’re heading for home in early April and after a stop in London, ON to visit our daughter we’ll be on PEI shortly after Easter so this will be our last column from Florida until next year. Until next time don’t forget to listen to Bluegrass Island every Sunday evening at 9 on CFCY 95.1 or at www.951fmcfcy.com.