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Festival starts on high note

The Will McLean Music Festival draws thousands of music lovers on its opening day at Sertoma Youth Ranch.

By BARBARA L. FREDRICKSEN

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 11, 2001


DADE CITY -- Phil Schultz easily was the most popular man at the Will McLean Music Festival.

As the sun struggled to shine through the clouds over the festival at Sertoma Youth Ranch, Schultz ladled plates of white sausage gravy and fluffy biscuits to hungry musicians and music lovers.

The festival continues today from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Named for the late Will McLean, the festival features more than 60 musical groups performing folk, country, gospel and bluegrass music on five different stages.

The wooded site is a study in contrasts. Among the tents and lean-tos are expensive Airstreams and Winnebagos.

Sallie LittleJohn of West Palm Beach had a television satellite dish outside her 1972 Airstream.

"We arrived on Thursday to sit here and enjoy for a day," she said, gesturing toward the rolling hills and trickling streams nearby.

Ken and Trisha Brooks of Spring Hill had a brisk business selling their antique and handmade banjoes and hammered dulcimers.

"We needed a skin for this one," Ken Brooks said, pointing to a handmade banjo. "We went out in the woods and found a possum that was just freshly dead."

Ada Forney and John Hammond were setting up at the Azalea Stage overlooking a dried-up lake.

"We have poetry and storytelling all day long," Ms. Forney said. "People come by and sit down and hear a story or poem or some other thing that explores the magic word."

By noon Saturday, the parking lot was almost filled and cars were backed up over the hill waiting to buy tickets for the festival.

Saturday's lineup of entertainment was scheduled to last until midnight but without one of the most popular features -- impromptu jam sessions around campfires. Because of the drought, the county fire marshal has put up signs forbidding any outdoor fires.

Even so, small musical groups were gathering throughout the campsite to have their own music festival.

Festival schedule

Sunday's performers (in order on the Magnolia Stage, Cypress Stage, Sparkleberry Stage, Circle of Song, Azalea Stage)

9-11:30 a.m.: Gospel Music featuring Sam Owens, Ray and Cheryl Belanger, Charlie Flory, Paul and Linda Stewart, Jon and Mem Semmes, Carl Wade and Barbara, Vgo and Terri, Old Time Friends, Leanora Twoomey, Cindy Roy and more in the workshop area.

10 a.m.: Breakfast Club with Chuck Hardwicke; Dennis Devine; Jorge Sanchez; no Circle of Song; Lance Lazonby

10:30 p.m.: Southwind; Joey Errigo; Art Crummer; no Circle of Song; Jim Davis

11 a.m.: Simple Gifts; Marie Nofsinger; Dale Crider; gospel and old time music by Dora Anne in Harmony and Eli Perras; John Hammond

11:30 a.m.: Shana; Mindy Simmons; Jon Semmes & the Florida Friends; gospel and old-time music by Dora Anne in Harmony and Eli Perras; Bob Patterson

Noon: Clyde Walker; Myriad; Dave Dowling; banjoists Sam Pacetti and Gabe Valla; Ada Forney

12:30 p.m.: Tammerlin; Amy Carol Webb; Joshua Creek; Sam Pacetti and Gabe Valla; Storytelling Sims

1 p.m.: Ron and Bari Litschauer; Sno Rogers; Sue Grooms; flat pick guitarist Sam Owens; Judy Barrett

1:30 p.m.: Hot Flash; Sam Pacetti; Okefenokee Joe; Sam Owens; open microphone

2 p.m.: Clearwater Connection; Gabe Valla; Ashley Gang; How to Write a Song with Mindy Simmons, Dennis Dunn, Amy Carol Webb, Jon Semmes, Jim Bickerstaff and Joey Errigo

2:30 p.m.: Boomslang; Destination Still Unknown; Shana Banana; How to Write a Song

3 p.m.: New Sand Mount Wildcats; Steve Blackwell; Grant Livingston; a capella harmony with Cindy Roy

3:30 p.m.: Val Caracappa

4 p.m.: Peace: J and Friends, a remembrance of Will McLean and his songs

5:30 p.m.: Hour of Power and Finale, Hold Back the Waters

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