We are now in the depths of winter and I feel so fortunate to live in Northern Florida where there are still lemons, oranges and kumquats ripening on my trees, camellias and azaleas blooming, my Chicasaw plum and Japanese magnolia trees in full bloom, and the redbud and tropical orchid trees starting to show their early blossoms. I ran out into the yard this morning and snapped these photos to share some of the beautiful flowers with you.
As for the fruit trees: my lemon tree was again loaded with beautiful perfect fruit this year affording me the opportunity to gift them, juice them, rind them, make candied peel, jam, preserved lemons and limoncello. The late fruits are so sweet that I have been eating them rind and all without puckering. Simply amazing. The Ambersweet oranges are tiny and covered with rust this year but boy are they tasty. My kumquat bush is now a tree and I can’t even reach the ripe quits at the top. When the lemons run out I’m getting out the rake and pulling those babies down, same with the oranges!
Will McLean Festival: Fri-Sun March 13-15, 2015 in Brooksville FL
Master the Possibilities: Thurs March 19, 3:30-5:30 PM in Ocala, FL
8415 SW 80th Street, Ocala, Fl 34481
Sarasota Folk Festival: Sat-Sun March 21-22 in Osprey FL
Sat March 21, 11:30 AM Oak Stage
Sun March 22, 10:30 AM Oak Stage
Topsail Preserve State Park: Thurs April 30, 7 PM in Santa Rosa Beach, FL
at the West end of Hwy 30A, Santa Rosa Beach, FL
Robert’s Hall: Sun May 3, 4 PM in Lynn Haven, FL
831 Florida Ave., Lynn Haven, FL
Florida Folk Festival (with Rebecca Zapen & Friends): Fri-Sun May 22-24, in White Springs, FL
I am currently working on my next CD at Gatorbone Studios with Lis and Lon Williamson. It is an absolute joy to work with them and such an honor to be included as an artist on their Gatorbone Record label. We are all quite excited about how the initial tracks for these songs are turning out. It is always a challenge to keep the songwriting muse engaged when I am in the thick of recording. To that end, I’m planning to spend a bit of time in the near future by learning to do new things with my guitar, and trying out some more co-writing. I enjoy interacting with other creative musicians and find it quite inspiring. Sometimes, and those are special times indeed, the sparks fly and something wonderful rises out of the flames.
WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON?
The last few months have really been quite wonderful for my songwriter self. In December I had the privilege to do a show at Sandhill Stage with Richard Gilewitz. Richard is a phenomenal guitarist and we had a great time working together on arrangements for a few of my songs. The show was loads of fun and who knows, there may be another one out there in the future. Also in December, Lauren Heintz and I had a terrific time playing a show together at Artisan’s Way in Melrose. It was so much fun to take in the new location and feel the warm loving vibe of the Coffeetalk folks. A special thanks to Doris Nabors and June Beverly for inviting us. It was great to be back.
Christmas break was spent with my dear friends Diane Chodkowskiand David Coler who flew down from Connecticut to spend the Christmas break with us at St. Joseph Peninsula State Park. We had a great time swapping songs; playing Aggravation, Cribbage and Monopoly; hiking: and eating (our primary occupation.) Mike and Maggie McKinney of Lucky Mud drove over to join us for a meal and a wonderful song circle. On New Year’s Eve we left the park and drove over to Port St. Joe to listen to The Currys play in their hometown with fireworks right across the street. What a blast – with buses carting folks down the line to the next time zone to catch New Years twice. The Currys are really building a following and these guys just get better and better. Besides, they are really nice human beings. Catch them live if you can, you’ll be glad you did.
January found us in South Florida where I played the Banyan Stage at the South Florida Folk Festival.
A couple days before the festival John & I decided to take a mini vacation at the beautiful old Colony Hotel in Delray Beach. We had a blast even though I had acute laryngitis. Luckily my voice returned day of show and to make things even better Tom Ellis, my favorite festival sound man, was the manning the board for our stage. There is nothing so important to a musician than a good sound manager and a great audience. I was fortunate to have both and had a great time because of it. A special thanks to Arlene Boumel, Ellen Bukstel, the South Florida Folk Club and all the folks that made that festival happen in such a lovely park. The Banyan Stage, set under a beautiful banyan tree, has got to be one of my favorite stages ever!
Upon returning home from South Florida I became intensely aware of how very, very beautiful my part of the State still is and how much of it is still in its natural state. Not so in South Florida and that makes me very sad, but also very aware, yet again, of how important it is to protect and preserve the natural areas in this fastest growing state in the union. Not everyone values the “natural” aspects of our state beyond the climate. This is why I value the work I do as coordinator of Sandhill Stage. Concerts at the stage serve to benefit, through education and fund raising, two conservation organizations that work very hard to preserve & protect natural lands in Alachua and neighboring counties: Alachua Conservation Trust (ACT) (voted 2013 National Land Trust of the Year) and Conservation Burial, Inc. (CBI). Freddie Johnson of CBI and I are thankful for the many hard working volunteers (including my husband and son) that make it possible for community to gather together at Sandhill Stage and listen to outstanding original acoustic music in the beautiful setting of Prairie Creek Lodge. Thanks to you we’re having another wonderful season of music and benefitting ACT and CBI. Here is the current schedule:
At the end of January we had one of the most marvelous music experiences ever when we drove up the the first annual Roots and Wings music festival in Lynn Haven, FL hosted by Maggie and Mike McKinney of Lucky Mud. It was a one day festival inside Roberts Hall with workshops and shows conducted by the perfumers themselves: Mike & Maggie McKinney, Brian Smalley The New 76ers (Kelly & Danny Goddard with Brian Durham), and Paul Kamm & Eleanor McDonald from California. This line up was stunning and it was so incredible to hear so much great music in one night. Standing ovations from a packed house for every act! If you can catch any of these acts live you will be rewarded. If I were to pick two bands out of Florida that consistently knock my socks I would name The New 76ers and The Currys. Like the Currys, The New 76ers boast incredible musicianship, GREAT SONGS, and a vocal blend that family ties seem to forge (husband, wife & brother.) We were put up in style by Mike & Maggie with the musicians at a beautiful home on Panama City Beach by our gracious hosts and festival sponsors Bill and Miki McFatter. What a treat to listen to Brian Smalley, Danny Goddard, Brian Durham and Paul Kamm jamming in the living room after the festival. We will remember this for a long time. It definitely gave me some ideas!
Well, if you’d managed to read through this rambling message you have my greatest admiration! Go treat yourself to some of the great music I mentioned and keep supporting live acoustic music. Hope to see you soon!