Festival #4: March 1980

Boggy Creek Bluegrass

Banjo-Picking, Guitar-Plucking Folks Take Over Downtown Auburndale

Tribune Staff Writer

AUBURNDALE - Stepping across the railroad tracks in downtown Auburndale, I first heard the heartbeat of downhome music plunking from a banjo under the giant blue and white striped tent.
The front room at grandma's house flashed before my eyes - the linoleum floor, patched over the spot where the coal stove used to stand, and the old cedar trees outside the north windows.
Maybe somebody would play "Under the Double Eagle." Aunt Pauline used to do that song at the piano with the horse statue and family pictures on top while grandma played the drums.
A lot of folks felt at home at the Florida Championship Bluegrass Festival.
"It's the biggest turnout we've ever had," said Jim Spivey, chairman of the festival in downtown Auburndale that happened Friday, Saturday and. Sunday.
The tent, got people out of the weather this year, and the price was sure right.
"We're the cheapest bluegrass show in the state and this is the state championship," Spivey said.
He was standing under a tent where footlong hot dogs and hamburgers were grilling. Customers could pump mustard on them from a gallon jug and spoon their own chopped onions out of a bowl on the counter.
Along the street a row of peddlers in travel trailers sold carved wooden signs, facials and Pennsylvania Dutch pastries.
None of it was out of earshot of the music.
On a stage inside the big tent, a group in matching yellow shirts was getting ready to play "Black Mountain Rag."
"I'm going to try to play this without tuning my gourd," said a musician holding something that resembled a mandolin.
The fiddle squealed off to a plaintive start that pitched them all headlong into a speeding locomotive beat -- forearms working over guitar strings like connecting rods to drive wheels, banjo strings plunking the passage of each measure, like fence posts whizzing past the engineer's waving hand.
They didn't even need a Moog synthesizer. Just a few good old boys with the right touch.
Slowing down to crawl, they did "one we call, 'When the Fields are Turning Brown'...or 'The Crops Have Failed.'"
Folding chairs stenciled "City Beach" held moms. and dads, grandparents and grandkids. Fishing caps slightly outnumbered cowboy hats in the audience. A young boy wore the only coonskin cap with a tail.
A couple in their early 20s watched from behind a long-lensed camera on a tripod with their striped plastic drink cooler under a chair. All four of their bare feet tapped to the music in flip-flops.
The Dizzy Ramblers came on next. The head guy tested the microphone... WPUL was broadcasting the show live.
"Am ah on the raydeeoo? Hi , Ma-ma!"
"On the fiddle, my dad and his dad...,"
"This is my Uncle Boots here gonna, sing and play on the rhythm guitar..."

American Bluegrass Express

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