The Will McLean Music Festival which honors Florida’s Black Hat Troubadour is now in its 28th year. McLean, the “Father of Florida Folk,” wanted to save Florida through music. He was the first folk artist inducted into the Florida Artists Hall of Fame. Since his death in 1990, songwriters from across the state have penned hundreds of songs about the history, culture and folklore of Florida.
This year’s lineup of Florida singer-songwriters promises to be one of the best festivals yet.
Friday night’s headliners are Grant Peeples, a self-described “vegetarian that watches NASCAR, and tree-hugger with a gun below the seat.” Grant Peeples is known for his axe-sharp socio-political tunes, raucous humor and heart-gigging ballads. BrotherBrother will bring their young talent to the mainstage. The two rising sibling stars write and perform original music with a fusion of Rock and Americana….with a banjo. Also performing Friday night will be Ellen Bukstel who writes and sings about it all, from menopause to marijuana, peace to politics, and the poignant to provocative. Friday’s evening lineup concludes with the group, the Honey Creepers, an award-winning original SW Florida Trio, with a unique sound that infuses Folk, Blues, Swing, Rock, Motown and Jazz.
Saturday’s headliners are Brian Smalley, an adrenaline filled performer with highly creative originals, borrowing from old-time flat-pick guitar and new-grass. Amy Carol Webb will share her gift of voice, vision, grace and grit, with raucous rhythms to mellifluous melodies.
Also featured Saturday night will be Mary James, better known to audiences as “Mean Mary.” Mean Mary’s song Choctawhatchee Waltz won 1st place in this year’s Will McLean Best New Florida Song Contest.
Singer-songwriter Rod MacDonald will bring his unique style to the stage Saturday night which defies the typical folk genre, but, as a keen student of history, his songs have a classic style that often include humor, contemporary issues and real storytelling. Also taking to the mainstage on Saturday night will be the Red & Chris Henry and the All Star Band. The group features high-powered, original bluegrass.
The weekend event kicks off Friday, March 10th at noon with musical performances at four covered stage areas plus a variety of workshops. The winner and finishers of the “Best New Florida Song Contest” will be featured on the Magnolia Stage on Saturday, March 11th at noon.
Festival organizers are also very excited about the growth of the festival’s YouthProgram under the guidance of Laura Sulpizio Julian.
The young performers have their very own stage and will also be featured during a special showcase on the Azalea Stage at the event.
The annual event at the Sertoma Youth Ranch (7 miles West of Dade City) includes and Old-Time Music Stage, a variety of workshops, song circles, a kid’s activity area and a variety of food vendors and arts and crafts.
The Will McLean Festival is sponsored by the Will McLean Foundation. The foundation’s efforts include promoting, in the state of Florida and elsewhere, the works of Will McLean and the works of other Florida artists; provide for research, education, performance and training to promote understanding and appreciations of the works of Florida’s artists among other goals.
Attendees may camp alongside performers for the weekend, or come for the day. Pets are welcome (on leashes). Bring your chairs for a one of kind experience of fun and entertainment.
Sertoma Youth Ranch is located at 85 Myers Road, Brooksville, FL 34602 (and is 7 miles West of Dade City). Weekend admission is $45 in advance (tickets available on the festival’s website through March 9th) and $50 at the gate. Children under 12 are free. Daily admissions are $20 (Friday), $25 (Saturday) and $15 (Sunday). For information about camping and all aspects of the Will McLean Music Festival, visit willmclean.com. Also, “Like” us on Facebook to receive the latest Festival updates!