Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Folk Music Festival Returns to Community Club

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Folk Music Festival Returns to Community Club

Article excerpt

Byline: Dan Scanlan, Times-Union staff writer

The music comes to Mandarin again this weekend as the third annual Mandarin Folk Festival hits the stage with 27 acts from across the country, ranging from bluegrass to blues.

This year, the free show expands from one day to two, with live music on stages inside and outside the Mandarin Community Club, 12447 Mandarin Road, as well as a tent where professional and amateur musicians can jam together.

Organizer Pamela Milam expects up to 4,000 people to listen to the picking and singing from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. today and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, with acts from Alabama, North Carolina and beyond.

"It is called a folk festival, but just as in previous years, we will have bluegrass, blues, world music and folk," she said. "We have Rudy Young from Gainesville, a wonderful player. We will have Southern Light again, and Andy Blaylock will be playing. He is up for an international bluegrass award and will be coming straight from the awards to our little festival in Mandarin."

The original festival grew from an idea founder Norm Roberts said his late wife, Mary Jo, came up with, suggesting a backyard concert. They held a small one in March 2001, and guests urged Roberts to do a bigger festival. Roberts, Milam and a group of about 20 friends joined forces to line up sponsorship and national headliner acts such as The Burns Sisters, Nashville, Tenn., artist Donna Frost and London singer Chris Stern for the first show in October 2002. The community club at Mandarin and Brady roads was chosen because of its history. It was built in the early 1870s with funding from author and wintertime Mandarin resident Harriet Beecher Stowe.

This year, Milam and her husband have taken over the reins from Roberts at his request, with the show dedicated to him and his late wife, she said. The musicians will play on the community club's historic stage and in a 40-by-60-foot tent called Grandma Jo's porch. The jam tent will sit behind the Walter Jones General Store and Post Office.

"We have expanded to two days. We were going on the same format until the hurricanes, and several of the craft vendors will not make it, so this will be an all-music festival," Milam said. …

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