As summer begins its inevitable creep into the month of May, it seems fitting that the seasonal music closeout at the Sertoma Youth Ranch welcomes a bit of heat as well.
Now in its fifth year, the Orange Blossom Jamboree has gone far beyond the "what if" proposition it was when Russ Bowers dreamed up the idea.
Back then, the South Florida promoter simply wanted to replicate the groove-all-night jam band festivals he used to attend in his native Midwest.
Nowadays, the jamboree has an identity all its own.
"We now have a very devoted following, and they start talking it up months before we even have the lineup posted on Facebook," Bowers said. "People just can't wait to get here."
It was Bowers who thought of the idea to bring together Florida's indie jam band nation to showcase the broad and diverse talent whose notoriety rarely goes beyond the local gigs they play. But he insists that every one of the 39 bands on this weekend's bill comes with impressive credentials.
"It's amazing to sit and listen to such a high caliber of musicianship coming from the stage," Bowers said. "Some of the most incredible bands I've ever heard live here in Florida."
Bowers said that some of his favorite moments at the festival come when fans tell him how much they appreciate seeing so many acts in a single weekend.
"I think everyone pretty much agrees that they get their money's worth," he said.
As something of a musical potpourri, the festival this weekend will welcome an array of genre-bending groups, from the bluegrass/country influence of Tampa's Applebutter Express to the Afro-Latin funk of Miami's Suénalo, to the Southern rock groove of Sarasota's Kettle of Fish, all of whom have managed to push themselves through to wider audiences in recent years.
In addition to the music, the festival will feature food, crafts and beverage vendors. A number of children's activities also are planned.
Logan Neill can be reached at [email protected] or (352) 848-1435.