A Weekend of Entertainment, Participation and Exhibits
Along the banks of the historic Suwannee River in White Springs, Florida, folk artists have gathered to celebrate Florida’s land, people, and diverse cultural heritage. Since its humble beginning in 1953, the Florida Folk Festival has not only grown to become Florida’s most prestigious affair, but also named “Florida’s Best Cultural Event.” The festival has recently been recognized by the Southeast Tourism Society as a “Top 20 Event” in the southeastern United States for 2015.
Get ready for a fun and entertaining weekend for the entire family! Our feature performers are listed below with their amphitheater evening performance. Many will be performing or teaching workshops some other time throughout the weekend. Check out our full schedule of events for specific times and stages.
House of Cash: A historical and musical journey with John Carter Cash, Featuring Ana Cristina Cash and Special Guest Gailanne Amundsen (Saturday evening)
John Carter Cash, having been involved in music all his life, is an accomplished and award-winning record producer. However, his activities in the creative world reach far beyond just music production. He is also a singer-songwriter and author. The grandson of Maybelle Carter and the only son from the marriage of John R Cash and June Carter Cash, he preserves the family legacy and is a caretaker to the heritage of his musical ancestors.
Johnny Cash built the original Cash Cabin Studio cabin in 1978. It was then, as it is now, a place to find solace and make music. In 1993, Johnny had recording gear installed. Since then, the CASH CABIN STUDIO has hosted hundreds of artists and within its walls; thousands of songs have been recorded.
John’s newest album, released this year is We Must believe in Magic.
Ana Cristina Cash is an American singer-songwriter, raised in Miami, FL. Her parents moved to the United States in the early 1960's from Cuba during the onset of the revolution. She grew up listening to music from many different genres, and writes first from the heart. Her recordings exhibit a broad vocal range, spanning from an expressive and resonating contralto to an amazingly high coloratura soprano, exhibiting what is known to some as a “whistle register”. She currently resides in Nashville, TN.
In 2017, Ana released her latest musical work titled "The Tough Love EP" which was produced by her husband, Multi-Grammy Award winning producer John Carter Cash and recorded at The Cash Cabin Studio in Hendersonville, TN. The EP is a six song collection that is currently available on iTunes and all digital platforms and is part of a larger album that will be available later this year. In early in 2015, Ana Cristina released her pop-soul album which she recorded in Los Angeles, "The West Coast Sessions" and was produced by Chris Price.
Ana Cristina Cash is bi-lingual and started her professional music career at age six, quickly becoming an accomplished champion of the singing contests on the variety show, “Sabado Gigante”. At the age of 16 she signed to Sony Music’s Latin division and released her first album “ Cristina” in the Spanish language. Her version of Shubert’s “Ave Maria” was released within a Sony Christmas compilation album titled “Nuestra Navidad”.
In 2005, at the age of 19, she became the first Hispanic in history to perform the "Star Spangled Banner" at a Presidential Inauguration. The following year in 2006 she was invited to perform at the White House for the President of the United States, the Crowned Prince of Spain and notable world ambassadors. That same year, she released a duet with MichaelAngelo of the song “You Can Change the World”. Its bilingual counterpart “El Mundo Puedes Cambiar” went on to become the theme song for the World Cup Germany 2006. Ana has also performed the national anthem for various live national broadcasts including NBA, MLB and NFL. She obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from Florida International University in 2010.
On October 29, 2016 Ana Cristina married music producer John Carter Cash. Shortly after, she began to record and write music for her current release, The Tough Love EP. These recordings, with a dark and mysterious flair, show off Ana Cristina’s connection to rockabilly and gritty blues, with a flavor for country and soul. Ana spends most of her time performing live shows, recording, and writing. Ana and John Carter also own and operate Cash Cabin Enterprises LLC together. She is forever creative and is looking forward to every new chapter in her musical journey. She and her husband John welcomed their daughter, Grace June Cash into the world on September 11, 2017
Gailanne Amundsen, raised by a music-loving family and the Florida Folk Festival family, has been playing a variety of stringed instruments since her childhood, winning the first of many competitions when she was just nine. She has been both the Florida and Tennessee State Fiddle Champion, and won the Songwriting Award at the Appalachian String Band Festival. Her participation in the band Jubal’s Kin has won multiple Independent Music Awards and has been appreciated internationally. She is currently performing with The Carter Family Project produced by John Carter Cash.
John McEuen &The String Wizards present: Will The Circle Be Unbroken (Sunday evening)
Multi-instrumentalist McEuen, one of the founding members of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band has introduced his music and creative talents through various formats and forums throughout his signature career. He’s produced television specials, live concerts and music videos; scored music for indie films; he’s made special guest appearances on multiple studio recordings, and he is a syndicated radio show host and book author.
The music he performs is a reflection of early inspirations from his native Southern California (Lightning Hopkins, Earl Scruggs, The Carter Family and The Dillards). He notably pays homage to his influences (Don Reno, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Earl Scruggs, Ligntnin’ Hopkins and Bill Monroe) in each and every performance with an added touch of personalized eclectic tunings.
In September of 2017, Florida resident McEuen was inducted into the American Banjo Museum Hall of Fame.
McEuen's countless jams include street performers to Phish, Earl Scruggs, Levon Helm… and even on Sesame Street with a herd of goats and a cow! Arguably, McEuen's most important legacy may be his initiating what Rolling Stone called “The most important record to come out of Nashville” and what the 2004 ZAGAT survey called “the most important record in country music” - Will the Circle Be Unbroken...
McEuen has assembled a unique cast for a special night to share the music and memories of the landmark Will the Circle Be Unbroken platinum album and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s incredible career. Joining John McEuen are the incredible String Wizards consisting of Les Thompson, an original NGDB founding member, John Cable, a NGDG member and John’s music partner for 25 years, Matt Cartsonis.
When the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band recorded Will the Circle Be Unbroken, initiated by founding member John McEuen, the icons of Bluegrass, Country and West coast country rock convened: Roy Acuff, Doc Watson, Merle Travis, Jimmy Martin, Earl Scruggs, Vassar Clements and Maybelle Carter. Six hot August 1971 days leading to a magic time when three generations came together to produce the benchmark record relevant to this day. Still an Amazon top 20, Will the Circle Be Unbroken is in the Grammy Hall of Fame. The Library of Congress inducted the multi-platinum ‘Circle’ as one of the most important American recordings.
The evening’s journey leads to music from McEuens new highly praised record Made In Brooklyn (Cheskey Records/Sept. 2016), recently named by the Independent Music Awards as the Best Americana Album of the Year. Closing with encores of music from the new album, you’ll experience the entire span of John McEuens 50 years in music and are taken back to some of the best year of your lives…Mr. Bojangles Some of Shelly’s Blues Keep on the Sunny Side Will the Circle Be Unbroken Dance Little Jean Long Hard Road Earl’s Breakdown Wreck on the Hiway Cannonball Rag
Billy Dean (Friday evening)
Festival favorite, Billy Dean, a native of Quincy, Florida, is known by his peers as the “James Taylor of country music.” By the age of 10, he was playing in his dad’s country band. He was raised appreciating the value of music, and has had many musical influences.
After attending college on a basketball scholarship, Billy moved to Nashville in 1983 and by 1990 had recorded his first Top 5 Hit "Only Here for A Little While." Since then, Billy has transcended genres with his unique repertoire earning numerous awards, including: The Academy of Country Music's Song of the Year for "Somewhere in My Broken Heart", ACM New Male Vocalist of The Year, BMI Pop Awards, BMI Song Awards, BMI Million Air Plays Award, Country Music Television Rising Star Award, NSAI Song of The Year, and a Grammy for a "Country Tribute: Amazing Grace." In 2017, Billy was inducted into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame, the highest honor bestowed by the state.
Billy's appeal reaches beyond the music world. He has appeared on numerous television shows as well as made-for TV movies, including: Blue Valley Songbird, A Face to Kill For, Lois & Clark, One Life to Live, Diagnosis Murder, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show, The Montel Show, and many others. He is currently on tour across the US.
After thirteen albums and eleven Top 10 singles spanning over a period of eighteen years, Billy founded the publishing company BDMG (Billy Dean Music Group). Billy continues to make contributions to the country music world by building brands with music and empowering children as a spokesperson for Averitt Cares for Kids, and Sunkist's Take a Stand Program.
His latest album "Billy Dean Live" was released in 2017. It features personal anecdotes and an array of his most beloved songs. Billy's illustrious career has been recognized with a proclamation from the State of Tennessee House of Representatives.
The Prestage Brothers (Saturday Evening)
Ben and Johnny “Debt" Prestage have music in their blood. Their great-grandmother was a professional musician who toured the American vaudeville circuit opening shows for Al Jolson. Their grandmother was a Boogie-Woogie pianist.
For years, Folk Festival fans have flocked to the stages where Ben Prestage appears. Growing up in a swampy area of rural central Florida, Ben has created his own signature sound, “Deep South Swamp Music,” by melding Juke Joint Blues, Delta Blues, and blazing Piedmont Blues, with award-winning finger-style guitar and soaring steel-guitar work. After a stint as a busker on historic Beale Street in Memphis, Ben emerged as one the nation’s top one-man-bands and earned acclaimed accolades including: the Lyon/Pitchford Award for “Best Diddley Bow Player” and “Most Unique Performer” at the Songwriters’ Showcase of America. He also finished 4th, 3rd, and 2nd place at the International Blues Challenge. Ben is one of the only artists to be nominated for both a Blues Music Award and an Independent Music Award. These accomplishments and uniquely powerful live performances have earned Ben invitations to perform at prominent blues, jazz, and folk festivals across North America, Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
Now, Ben has teamed up with his brother, Johnny “Debt” Prestage, a world-class songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Together they’ve formed a “two-one-man-bands-in-one” duo. The Orlando Weekly says: "Ben was already a high-functioning one-man-band on his own. The Prestage Brothers’ arrangement, however, takes the ingenuity and economy of that full-body, multi-tasking setup, then doubles and harmonizes it. Ben handles a guitar and foot drums like usual, but now Jon rides shotgun handling six-string bass, cymbals on foot and backing vocals. Between them, they man a full drum kit with just their feet. It’s like a symphonic version of the one-man band aesthetic, and truly something to behold.”
Frank Thomas (Sunday evening)
Born and raised in rustic Clay County, Florida songwriter Frank Thomas has native Florida lineage dating back to the late 18th century. Few other songwriters can claim such a strong Florida heritage and sharing his love of Florida is the inspirational thread woven throughout his music and storytelling. He has been given many titles including the Dean of Florida Folk (for the many song-writing assignments he has given over the years), The Grand Old Man of Florida Folk, and is considered one of the most prolific songwriters in Florida.
In the 60s, Thomas toured nationally with several well-known bluegrass groups, Ann settled into the "Cracker Palace," a Florida style home down Rattlesnake Hammock Road on the ridge just outside of Lake Wales. From there, Frank and Ann Thomas became the most well-known duo in Florida music. Ann's big daddy thumping bass, deep rooted harmony singing and humorous jabs at her husband helped make them one of Florida's most popular acts. Frank and Ann Thomas traveled Florida, performing their unique music at schools, festivals, music and folk clubs, on television, and on concert stages. During the 80s, they produced and hosted the first Florida folk music radio show, weekly, on Tampa's WMNF. Their video "Florida History in Song," won the Florida Historical Societies coveted Golden Quill Award. Other awards received include the prestigious Florida Folk Heritage Award, The Inaugural Jillian Prescott History Award and The Stetson Kennedy Foundation Fellow -Man & Mother Earth Award. Frank was recently honored and inducted into the Florida Artist Hall of Fame -- Florida's most prestigious recognition!
Since Ann's death in 2004, Frank has continued his art as the patriarch of Florida folk music and is still a prolific songwriter: his catalogue numbers more than 500 songs -- all about Florida! A portion of them can be found on his nine albums, including Cracker Nights, Florida Stories, Bingo, Spanish Gold, and Just another Day in the Life of a Florida Cracker. For many years, Frank has hosted the River Gazebo stage at the Florida Folk Festival, where he personally welcomes and presents the state's best singer/ songwriters, reviews their work, gives out songwriting assignments and lots of praise.
While his accomplishments are certainly legendary, humble Frank Thomas will describe himself in one of his favorite cracker phrases: "I ain't nothin' extry."
Renesito Avich (Friday evening)
Renesito Avich believes that the Tres guitar must travel around the world, considering that there are places where its unique sound has not enchanted people yet. His compositions deliver a deep understanding of the sound of the Tres, in which he uses Classical music, Jazz and World Music.
Born in Santiago de Cuba, Renesito says he began whistling before he even learned to speak, and by age nine was playing the classical guitar in school. At fourteen, he learned the Cuban Tres, a guitar with three groups of two strings each that give it the signature strong sound. The Tres guitar is the national instrument of Cuba and it gave birth to some of today's most important musical patterns. Its roots lead him to recreate and develop styles of the Trova, the Changüí Nengón, the Conga, Rumba and Son Santiago, making a kind of journey through the playing styles of the eastern country.
Avich spent his teens playing with some of Cuba’s hottest acts such as Cesar Lopez, Pancho Terry, and Chucho Valdez. He was also a featured artist at the Miguel Matamoros Son Festival 2006. He graduated with Gold Title Guitar Tres specialty at the University of the Arts in Havana and has traveled to several countries to showcase his masterful playing. He was the winner of several Cuban national competitions: Festival Contest “Ignacio Piñeiro”, “Cubadisco Award 2011”, “Competition Ignacio Villa AHS” 2013. Cubadisco 2014 Award with the production Jóvenes Treseros de Cuba (Young Tres players of Cuba).
In 2014 he found himself living with his father in Sarasota and eager to explore the Florida music scene. As a “one-man, one-band” show Renesito has brought a new flavor to South Florida that delights and enchants his audiences, packing crowds into clubs and concerts to dance the nights away. So get ready to experience the sounds of Cuba, played with passionate energy and love.
Karibbean Groove (Saturday Evening)
Lead by Judes Albert, Karibbean Groove is a dynamic dance band that performs a variety of Caribbean styles often performed in clubs or for important cultural celebrations like Haitian Flag Day and weddings. In addition to reggae, they play konpa, a meringue style Haitian dance music with roots in Africa, and zouk, a fast-paced carnival beat that originated in Guadeloupe and Martinique. The band members were born in Haiti, but met at church in Immokalee where their families worked as farmworkers. This versatile and high energy group stays true to the Haitian tradition of socially conscious music while also exploring new genres and expanding their fan base. They have performed at the Cape Coral Reggae Festival, several local festivals and cultural celebrations, charity fundraisers, and appeared at Radio-Tele Pacific in Haiti.
Chris Henry and Hardcore Grass (Saturday Evening)
Chris Henry, the son of noted bluegrass veterans Red and Murphy Henry has attended the Florida Folk Festival since childhood. Chris grew up in the bluegrass and folk circles, yet has followed a natural muse that has opened his own sound to country, rock and hip-hop music. His band is called Chris Henry and Hardcore Grass, and the reason is because of the intensity with which they perform his music. It’s best described as a kind of white-knuckle, bite the cap off the coke bottle grit. There’s some blues, folk, Americana, country, gospel and even some world-music sounding contemporary textures like those used on “The Water Song”, the title cut of the band’s latest album. Speaking of his album, Making My Way to You, Chris says, “…one line in my song, ‘Down’ is directly lifted from GZA of the Wu Tang Clan. Medicine Man has drums similar to ones I would use for a hip-hop track.”
When he debuted the first bluegrass band he has led, Chris Henry and the Hardcore Grass, quickly gained a supportive local following. In 2014 the band was the California Bluegrass Association’s Emerging Artist of the Year and the band enjoyed playing at the great Grass Valley festival in Nevada City, California. It was selected to be in the official IBMA showcase artists in 2015 where it was widely discussed as one of the favorite and most exciting groups. One prominent record label executive drew energetic parallels to the Johnson Mountain Boys.
Chris and his band have done two month long tours of Australia in New South Wales and Victoria. They’ve headlined many of the country’s biggest bluegrass festivals and were featured on an ABC nationally syndicated radio program.
Willie Green Blues Band (Saturday evening)
Legendary bluesman Willie “Real Deal” Green, will enthrall Festival fans with his melodic-howling harmonica, his twangy-rhythmic guitar, and soulful blues-driven vocals.
Green has opened for well-known blues musicians including Robert Cray and Eric Clapton, shared the stage with the late “Honeyboy” Edwards, and collaborated with Southern rock group J.J. Grey and Mofro. Green has released three albums including Cross Creek Blues featuring J.J. Grey, and has performed for thousands at concerts and music festivals including the Florida Folk Festival, Magnolia Fest, Springing the Blues, and the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.
Willie Green was born in the mid-1930s to a family of sharecroppers and migrant laborers in Pine Level, Alabama, outside of Montgomery. He quit school to help support his family, and traveled from farm to farm throughout the southeast and as far north as Maine, harvesting peanuts, fruits, and vegetables. As a teenager, Willie would sneak out at night, hitchhiking or hopping a freight train to town to hear the old blues masters. Those youthful excursions eventually prompted him to learn to play the harmonica and guitar.
In the 1960s, he settled in South Florida, worked a series of manual labor jobs, and performed on the side at Florida clubs like the Blue Chip, the Down Beat and the Diamond Club. Green moved to Ocala in the 1980s, where he fell on hard times, and began playing for tips at The Yearling Restaurant in Cross Creek. It was there that Green was discovered, and then booked to open for Grammy-winning blues musician, John Hammond.
He continues to play at The Yearling Restaurant, and has advanced the local appreciation of the blues as an Artist in Residence at schools. In 2010, Willie Green received the Stetson Kennedy Foundation’s Fellow Man and Mother Earth Award.
Dale Crider (Friday evening)
Learn to appreciate our mosquitos, swamps and waterways through song with Florida’s environmental troubadour, Dale Crider. Dale has been a presence at the Florida Folk Festival for over 50 years, beginning with his performances of traditional bluegrass numbers in the 1960s with the Florida Wildlife Boys. By the 1970s. he was performing original songs both solo and accompanied by various musicians. Dale has continued to write, record and perform songs about Florida, its unique wilderness and wildlife. These songs have helped bring attention to the plight of endangered flora and fauna, their habitats, rivers, and other fragile ecosystems that support all life in Florida.
Retiring after 30 years with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, Dale served the Commission as a waterfowl biologist, then an environmental and educational specialist. This has enabled him to write songs with both a convincing message of environmental conservation, and an equally strong audience appeal.
He has performed his songs in almost every state as well as in Argentina, Paraguay, Canada, Australia, and the Caribbean. Dale has shared the 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. He’s entertained governors and policy makers from Tallahassee to Washington. He has performed on various national broadcast and cable networks and been interviewed by ABC's Ted Koppel. Crider's songs were included in the World of Audubon TV specials, TBS's Wood Stork Barometer of the Everglades and several other documentaries on Florida.
Today Dale continues performing and educating audiences around the world on numerous topics relating to environmental appreciation and conservation. As both singer and biologist, Dale has convinced people of all ages that Florida wildlife habitats and the plants and animals dependent on them should be saved.
Maharajah Flamenco Trio (Friday evening)
Silviu Ciulei (guitarist), David Cobb (bassist), and Ramin Yazdanpanah (percussionist) are Maharajah Flamenco Trio. They deliver a moving and dynamic expression of Flamenco Nuevo (New or "modern" Flamenco), by blending traditional Spanish rhythms with jazz, classical, and world music.
Founded in 2011, Maharajah Flamenco Trio is the brainchild of Silviu Ciulei. After successfully leading flamenco bands in Romania and Tennessee, Silviu was looking to put something together in his new home, Tallahassee, Florida. He wanted this group to be smaller than previous endeavors, more intimate, with players virtuosic enough to fully accompany and realize his compositions. He met David Cobb by chance. Both were hired through a mutual friend to play a city festival and both were intrigued by each other's playing style. Once Silviu met Ramin, he realized he had found the perfect players, and brought them together to create Maharajah Flamenco Trio.
Not long after, they began to tour, playing theatres, universities, and venues along the east coast, from the Dixie Theatre in Apalachicola, FL to The Shrine in Harlem, NY. They have appeared on television, as well as NPR, college, and internet radio, and in print around the southeast. They have been the featured artist two years running at the Southern Guitar Festival and were recently featured in Florida State University's annual Rainbow Concert, a showcase of the great world music scene in Tallahassee.
In 2013, they released their first studio album, Encuentro, a musical encounter that transports the listener around the world. Rich and finely-nuanced, the album captures the diverse musical backgrounds and technical virtuosity of the trio to create a singular listening experience of unique and daring music.
T.C. Carr & Bolts of Blue (Friday evening)
T.C. Carr & Bolts of Blue is an original, American blues/roots band now on the festival circuit. Featuring Josh Nelms on guitar, Vinnie Seplesky on bass and Dennis McCarthy on drums, T.C, Carr & Bolts of Blue is lively, rockin’, Florida-based, blues-roots, swamp-country in your ear. A truly original band with amazing prowess and blazing solos, they have quickly become one of Florida's top concert bands.
Innovative harmonica man, T.C. Carr, is one of Florida's top musical artists who has nurtured his style for decades in the Gulf Coast Florida sun. He is a Florida native and passionate singer songwriter. T.C.’s imaginative style has established him as one of Florida's best blues and Americana artists. His unique approach to playing the harp has earned him a reputation as one of the premier harmonica players in the United States and Europe. His strong lead vocals and heartfelt intensity demand an audience's attention, making him a fan favorite wherever he plays. He can be seen at special events playing with long-time friends from the Mad Beach Band, including alumni Pete Merrigan, Lenny Austin, Dave Williamson, Tom Kennedy, Pete Shackett, Tom Gribbin and the Saltwater Band, and Dennis Wallace.
T.C. Carr & Bolts of Blue are one-of-a-kind, truly like nothing you've ever heard!
Wild Shiners (Sunday evening)
Wild Shiners has been called face-melting Americana and stands by that. Never ones to shy away from a groove, the boys in the band play high energy bluegrass-inspired rock and roll. With banjo, fiddle, flat-pick guitar, upright bass, and drums, Wild Shiners’ original sound has been fertilized by southern roots music like country blues, jazz, southern soul, bluegrass, and outlaw country. Wild Shiners’ self-titled EP has garnered radio play on GrowRadio out of Gainesville, and WFCF Flagler College Radio in St. Augustine. Always serving the song and serving the listeners, Wild Shiners has maintained a steady schedule of playing bars, listening rooms, and festivals throughout the state.
Meet the boys in the band: Andrew Cook is Gainesville, Florida’s in-demand fiddler, and his clear fiddle style is instantly recognizable. Trained classically, but also an award-winning old-time and bluegrass fiddler, Andrew brings a depth of tradition and progressive ideas to each song, and he’s a great harmony singer to boot. Tom Grant, a Gainesvillian, is known on the festival circuit campgrounds and stages for his original, melodic banjo style – a key element of Wild Shiners’ sound. His songwriting is just as strong and unique. A founding member of Wild Shiners, Tom is a powerhouse musician all around. Brian Turk hails from Gainesville where he lives and plays in several local bands, because on bass, Brian is every band’s dream. His understated upright playing is in the pocket and as solid as they come. Brian’s been with Wild Shiners since its inception and has kept the band and the music grounded. T’ai Welch of Saint Augustine, FL is that rare drummer who can hold the deepest groove, ground the rhythm section accompaniment on the squirreliest melodic arrangements, and sing harmonies all the while. T’ai has contributed original songs to the Shiners setlist and is as musically proficient as they come. His acute attention to the moment brings him into every song, every time.
Mindy Simmons and Friends (Sunday evening)
Songstress-diva Mindy Simmons is a cherished member of the Florida Folk Festival family. She has participated annually for over 20 years. This year Mindy is joined by her friends: Lisa Bohn on ukulele/vocals, Ellen Bukstel on vocals, Mark Goldberg on bass/vocals, and Ed Kinder on keyboard/mandolin,
Mindy energizes audiences with her delightful interaction and broad emotional performances. She engages us with her witty banter between songs, while the songs themselves often show a healthy dose of humor. Mindy is just what the laugh doctor ordered. “Think Carol Burnett meets Peggy Lee, and you’ve got Mindy.” Combining quick wit and charm with a voice that moves flawlessly from satin smooth to gutsy, she creates memorable performances that feel like an evening with your best friend.
A seasoned professional, Mindy has toured nationwide since 1980. Her repertoire is a soulful combination of the originals and standards that shaped her career. She’s sold thousands of CDs to a growing loyal fan base. Headquartered in Sarasota, Florida, Mindy performs at major folk festivals throughout the state. The South Florida Folk Festival, The Will McLean Festival, and The Gamble Rogers Festival have hosted her lively folk, blues and jazz performances. Mindy has shared concert stages with Loudin Wainwright III, Cliff Eberhardt, Cosy Sheridan, Asleep at The Wheel, Vance Gilbert, and John Hammond Jr., to name only a few.
Seeing Mindy Simmons perform is fun!
Papaloko & Loray Mistik (Saturday evening dance)
“Mystic Thunder”, this is the meaning of Loray Mistik, an exciting group which emanates from the hills and villages of the mysterious, ancient land of Haiti. Their music brings forward the truth of their traditions with rhythms played out on the drums like the sound of the mystic thunder of the Gods.
Vodou speaks to the heart of Haitian people, putting forth a message of social conscience and spiritual strength. It also typifies the music of the Lwa (the Spirits or Orishas) of Africa, with many songs bringing prayers to the 101 Vodou Nations that look over mankind and protect us all. In slavery days, Haiti became a melting pot of African tribes. With the new arrivals many tribal religions blended with a new rhythm created by Don Petwo, a Vodou priest, who combined the attributes of the spirit of Metal, Iron and Justice, Ogun, with Congo rhythms creating Petwo music. Rhythms of the already present Arawak and Taino Indians blended with immigrant African rhythms and the sound of Rara was born. As the popular folk music rooted in Vodou, Rara brought news to the people of the villages and towns and is also played in weddings, funerals, and all social events.
The leader of Loray Mistik, Jude Thegenus, better known as Papaloko, is an artist, whose work is born through trance, the act of falling into a deep meditative state and then being possessed by a spirit whose purpose is to paint strokes of life onto canvas. At about age six, Jude began to study sculpture and ceramics at the Art Institute of Saint Jean Bosco and later completed his education at Lycee Antenor Firmin. Papaloko’s work can be found internationally in galleries, private homes, cafés, restaurants and nightclubs. He is currently putting the final touches on an eighteen-year project at Mango’s Tropical Café on Ocean Drive in South Beach, where he was commissioned to design a tropical atmosphere within the realms of his extreme creative talent.
Loray Mistik performs true Vodou music, not like the staged folklore performances. Traditional instruments like the kleroon, graj, fe iron, conch shell, cha cha, jon, hand bass, and the drums unify with the eclectic sounds of the guitar, bass and saxophone to create what they call “Vodou pop”. Jude believes that many come to their performances for the spiritual aspect of the music. When Loray Mistik performs it is a much for themselves as is it for the audience. They feel the music first, they never just put on a show.