by LIZA MITCHELL
Although the term “folk music” dates from 1889, its origins are immemorial, from as long as common people have strummed along to stories passed down in song. The International Folk Music Council’s definition allows that the term applies to music that, “has originated with an individual composer and has subsequently been absorbed into the unwritten, living tradition of a community.”
Early American folk revival music included the haunting melodies of Woody Guthrie and the ballads of Pete Seeger, along with the often radical tunes of Josh White. Folk music festivals gained modern appeal in the late 50s with gatherings like the Newport Folk Festival which launched Joan Baez. The genre was popularized in the 60s by Bob Dylan; Peter, Paul and Mary; The New Christy Minstrels, and many others, as folk music’s stories became increasingly attached to specific social causes.
The 3rd Annual North Florida Acoustic Music Festival, a celebration of folk music and Floridian songwriters, will be held November 8th and 9th at Flamingo Lake RV Resort. “We always wanted this festival to come to Jacksonville, but we didn’t have the right venue…We were always meant to be here,” says Larry Mangum, one of the event’s producers, noting that the Flamingo Lake venue is a perfect accent to the festival’s mission. Contributing to this are the park’s ample amenities and relaxed beauty. The event will be spread among three outdoor stages (with capacious indoor areas in case of rain). A children’s area is nestled among the park’s lakeside cabins and recreation area. Although there will be external food vendors like Brucci’s mobile pizzeria, Flamingo Lake also has the permanent Sunrise Café which offers a wide menu including breakfast and full meals.
Families, fans and friends are encouraged to attend the event which will celebrate the region’s top acoustic musicians and honor the contributions of artist and environmentalist Dale Crider. “‘Diverse’ is the right word for it,” says Mangum. “We’ve got everything from contemporary folk artists to acts like Canary in the Coalmine and Flagship Romance. Lots of good people.”
Performers at this year’s festival include Al Poindexter, Bob Patterson, Canary in the Coalmine, Charley Simmons, Cindy Bear, Dale Crider, Don Casper, David Russell, Flagship Romance, Florida State Bluegrass Band, Jackson Creek, Jamie DeFrates & Susan Brown, Jim Carrick, Julie Durden, Lis & Lon Williamson, Mike Shackelford & Steve Shanholtzer, Peyton Mangum Band, Red Afternoon, Scortino-Garfinkel Trio, Scott & Michelle Daziel and Stu Weaver.
The festival will also pay tribute to the “environmental troubadour” Dale Crider. Mangum says it was important to honor Crider’s tireless conservation efforts and commitment to writing music that celebrates Florida’s natural richness. These songs have helped bring attention to the plight of endangered wildlife, to habitats in rivers and other fragile aquatic ecosystems, and to the natural processes that support all life in Florida.
Crider recently retired after 30 years with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Over the years he served as a waterfowl biologist, then as an environmental and educational specialist. “He was a park ranger for years and years,” Magnum says of Crider. “It was his job to tell the stories to make people aware of conservation.” Naturally this happened when he entertained governors and various policy makers from Tallahassee to Washington.
As a singer, biologist and former park ranger, Crider earned his stripes sharing stories about the value and importance of preserving Florida’s wildlife habitats. He has performed his songs in almost every state and in Argentina, Paraguay, Canada, Australia and the Caribbean. He has performed on stage with Tom T. Hall, The Bellamy Brothers, Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Gamble Rogers, Will McLean, John Hartford and various other folk, country and bluegrass artists. Some of his songs have also made their ways into multiple documentaries.
If you want to be the next Crider, or if you just have an acoustic song you think is worthy of recognition, submit it to the Songwriters Contest held Friday night. The contest will award four $100 first prizes in the categories Best Traditional Folk Song, Best Contemporary Folk Song, Best Funny Song, and Best Young Songwriter (for songwriters 30 or younger). You must enter your contact form indicating your song’s category early since the size of the contestant pool will be constricted by the timing of live performances. Go to www.nffolk.com/Contact.aspx, and good luck!
If you’re not feeling competitive but still like to play, participate in the Open Mic Saturday afternoon. You can contact Open Mic host Wingo Johnson at [email protected] for further information.
Tickets are available at the gates and online for $10 for each day. Children under 12 are free. This event is rain or shine. Come to Flamingo Lakes RV Resort at 3640 Newcomb Road Friday, November 8th from 7-10 pm for the Songwriters Contest and Saturday, November 9th from 10 am-8 pm for performances, food and family fun. For more info go to www.nffolk.com/FolkFest.asp.
The North Florida Acoustic Music Festival
by LIZA MITCHELL