Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Tampa Bay Music & Shows

Thanksgiving Bluegrass Festival offers an alternative to holiday bustle

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SPRING LAKE — The turkey and fixings will be designated to leftover status and then comes the music.

The annual Thanksgiving Bluegrass Festival, which began Thursday, continues through Saturday at the Sertoma Youth Ranch, offering a toe-tapping, knee-slapping, get-up-and-dance alternative to the post-holiday hustle and bustle at local shopping centers.

The music kicks off at 11 a.m. today with 11 bands performing over two days under an 8,000-square-foot covered pavilion. Those who go are welcome to purchase tickets by the day, or camp overnight in the ranch's woodsy setting.

A well-worth-it draw for this year's festival is eastern Kentucky native Larry Cordle and his band, Lonesome Standard Time.

"That's a pretty big name we've got coming. He's a songwriter extraordinaire," said concert promoter Mitch Lind, noting that Cordle has garnered several music nominations and awards. Among the well-know artists who have recorded his songs — a few of them hits — are Ricky Skaggs, George Jones, Loretta Lynn, Alison Krauss, Trisha Yearwood, Alan Jackson and George Strait.

The Little Roy and Lizzy Show promises to ignite today's show with some high energy, Lind said. Local offerings include Sarah Harris and the Trinity River Band out of Jacksonville and Flatt Lonesome, a young group out of North Florida that garnered the 2014 International Bluegrass Music Association Emerging Artist of the Year award.

"They're reminiscent of old Hank Williams," Lind said. "They're really, really good."

Other groups include the Darrell Webb Band, Breaking Grass, Goldwing Express, Steve Gulley and New Pinnacle, the Roys, the Southern Express Bluegrass Band and HWY 41 South.

Add to that a state-of-the-art sound system and a hearing loop system for the hearing impaired that pipes the show directly into hearing aids.

Bluegrass is the main course, but there will be some enjoyable "sides." Those who hanker to pick a tune or two themselves can attend a music workshop, or pick up their own instrument and join a jam.

A variety of youth activities — arts and crafts, hands-on music lessons, hayrides — are aimed to keep kids entertained.

The Thanksgiving Bluegrass Festival is the ranch's biggest fundraiser, with 100 percent of the proceeds going to fund the free youth programs that are offered there throughout the year.

Contact Michele Miller at [email protected]. Follow @MicheleMiller52.

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