Twice a year, Renninger’s Vintage Antique Center and Farmer’s Flea Market is transformed into a 19th century steampunk festival where costumes and music are the order of the day. This weekend was the 2nd and last festival for 2021 and I was fortunate to be able to cover it for All Music Magazine. Tucked away between the antique center and the flea market is the perfect venue for outdoor events. In addition to the spacious grassy field there is a large, covered space that is perfect for vendors. The modest wooden stage is nestled beneath the trees and is adorned with an American flag and a giant Flying V guitar. This weekend also marked the return of some cooler weather which was welcomed by everyone. I arrived early which allowed ample time to check out some of the awesome costumes.
Opening the festivities was Central Florida resident John Babcock. I remember catching the end of one of John’s sets earlier in the year and couldn’t believe how much he resembled Paul McCartney. After seeing his full set today, it all makes sense. Babcock is able to create an authentic and impressive tribute to the legendary Paul McCartney, not only through appearance but also with his refined and smooth vocal abilities. Perched upon a simple stool and armed only with an acoustic guitar, Babcock started things off with spirited renditions of “Back In The U.S.S.R.” and “Lady Madonna.” From there he gave a tip of the hat to “The Purple One” , Prince, with a cover of “Purple Rain.” Although Babcock’s sets are comprised mostly of Beatle‘s hits, he doesn’t hesitate to perform other favorites from classic artists. Such was the case when he performed the 1973 hit “Shambala” from the Three Dog Night. Other songs included “Here Comes The Sun,” “Penny Lane” and “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da” While I was watching the show, I was joined by a young vendor who I know. He told me that he walked over from his booth because he heard The Beatles and that this guy was “killing it.” Keep in mind that I don’t think that my vendor friend is even 20 years old yet. This is a testament to Babcock’s performance and the timeless and classic music of The Beatles. After the set I was able to chat with John and found him to be a remarkably busy man. In addition to his sets here on Saturday and Sunday, he also had several other gigs on the same days. His “Paul Is All” tribute CD was released several months ago and the full show is scheduled for the fall. In the meantime, you can catch John Babcock at one of his many performances throughout the Central Florida area.
John Babcock: Vocals, Guitar
1.Back In The U.S.S.R.
4.Maxwell’s Silver Hammer
5.Here Comes The Sun
9.Hang On Sloopy
13.Magical Mystery Tour
Jig To A Milestone are a duo that is no stranger to the Florida music scene. In 2016 Jason Catron and Scott West formed the band and quickly established their own unique identity. Their genre of music cannot easily be summed up with an adjective or two. Their free-spirited and whimsical sets include an array of styles such as Celtic, Bluegrass, Country, and Folk. The musical twosome has also been known to dabble in comedy and even throws in a sea shanty or two. Although originally from St. Augustine, the guys bear no anchors and have performed throughout the state. Jason Catron bears a resemblance to a gentle giant, complete with a long, full red beard. Scott West came wearing a magenta-colored shirt, a green vest and a black hat with feathers. The band started off with a cover of John Denver’s “The Ballad Of St. Anne’s Reel.” Other covers included “Whiskey You’re The Devil” from The Pogues and Tommy Makenm‘s “The Rambles Of Spring.” These guys are really entertaining, and you should check them out if you have the chance. They have a show coming up at The Stout Snug in Jacksonville on October 29th so drop in if you’re in the area.
Jig To A Milestone:
Scott West: Vocals, Guitar,
Jason Catron: Vocals, Guitar, Whistle, Bouzouki,Banjo,Bodrhran
1.Ballad Of St. Anne’s Reel
2.The Fields Of Athenry
3.Whiskey You’re The Devil
4.Rolling Down To Old Maui
5.Cows With Guns
6. Charlie Mopps
7.Old Dun Cow
8.The Garden Song
9.The Rambles Of Spring
I have had the fortune to see Phantasmagoria several times over the last few years and they never cease to amaze me. The self-described Victorian Horror Storytelling troupe” has been wowing audiences nationwide for more than 11 years. Their resume reads like a never-ending list of accolades and awe-inspiring reviews from around the country. If you are into all things dark and gothic and enjoy an old-fashioned, thrilling theatrical performance outfitted with all the bells and whistles, then Phantasmagoria is just your cup of tea. Lord Byron served as the emcee for the entire festival and the style and flair that he brings is pure class. Easily recognized by his signature derby and 3-piece suit, Lord Byron is never short on wit. Lord Byron’s fellow Phantasmagorians, that’s probably not even a word, are flamboyantly sensational. The activities you might expect to see during a Phantasmagoria production include sword swallowing, dagger throwing and the most enchanting fire dances. The troupe has several upcoming performances so be sure to check out the fliers below and their social media links at the bottom of this review.
Phantasmagoria (Pictured Above):
The 1st time I saw the Bloody Jug Band, aka The BJB, was back in 2016 when I stopped by Spooky Empire in Orlando. I think I would run out of adjectives if I sat here trying to describe what the Bloody Jug Band is all about so I will refer to the bio on their website, “Drawing inspiration from historic jug bands of the 1920’s and 30’s as well as the darker side of Blues and Rock n’ Roll, the Bloody Jug Band carves out its own niche in a genre of music that has never seen such a bloody incarnation…” If that doesn’t peak your curiosity I don’t know what will. Prior to the show I took a stroll by The BJB’s merch table and discovered a colorful display that included a variety of t-shirts, stickers, key chains, and CDs. You can even buy a BJB washboard just like the one used by vocalist and scratcher Cragmire Peace. Once the band kicked off their set there was no slowing them down. The dynamic tandem of Cragmire Peace and Stormy Jean served as a catalyst for the rest of the band. Cragmire’s washboard skills are always on display and Stormy Jean’s vocals are as smooth as silk. The BJB belted out a slew of songs including “Last Time Again” which covers Cragmire and Stormy’s wedding. Guitarist Death Ray provided the riffs on his Harley Davidson guitar while Seth Funky chilled out on the bass. The BJB’s beats come courtesy of Big Daddy Jerm on drums and Baby Dingo on the cajon. As a Rocky Horror Picture Show fan I was thrilled to see them close out Sunday’s set with a cover of “Sweet Transvestite.” The BJB has several shows upcoming including an appearance at Spooky Empire in Orlando on 10/23/21.
The Bloody Jug Band:
Cragmire Peace: Vocals,Scratch
Stormy Jean: Vocals,Percussion
Death Ray: Guitar,Mandolin
Baby Dingo: Cajon
Big Daddy Jerm: Drums
Seth Funky: Washtub,5-String Bass
Like several of the other artists, I had seen portions of Celtic Conundrum‘s sets on previous occasions. This trio compliments each other so well you would think they have been playing together for an eternity. Prior to their set I met Sandy Martinelli who is married to vocalist and guitarist Gene Martinelli. I referred to her as “the boss”, hey I know how these things work, and she laughed but gave me a rundown on the band. Gene is the word master and is responsible for the band’s lyrics. Danny O’Dell has the powerful voice and plays the bodhran while Pamela Jo Hatley sings and plays one mean banjo. While the guys opted for kilts and vests Pamela rocked her steampunk hat with goggles and a set of dragon earrings. The set started off with a Celtic Conundrum original, “Dublin Town.” Pamela then went on to absolutely shred “Banjo Pickin’ Girl.” Danny’s vocals were spot on and the band’s rendition of Gordon Lightfoot’s “The Wreck Of The Edmund Fitzgerald” was outstanding as was their cover of The Cranberries‘ “Zombie.” I really like the fact that the band has so much original material. Translating your thoughts and emotions into words isn’t an easy task. I believe that lyrics are the heart and soul of any song and Gene is spectacular at breathing life into the band’s music. This weekend was also a celebration as Danny married his fiance, Sionainn, at the festival Saturday afternoon. Celtic Conundrum has a lot of shows coming up in the Central Florida area so make sure to check out their social media links below to find out where you can see them.
Gene Martinelli: Vocals, Guitar
Danny O’Dell: Vocals, Bodhran
Pamela Jo Hatley: Vocals, Banjo
2.Banjo Pickin’ Girl
3.A Call To The Wind
4.The Wreck Of The Edmundfitzgerald
7.Step It Out Mary
9.Two Shots Of Whiskey
As usual, Renninger’s put together a great event that attracted a crowd looking to indulge themselves in some outdoor fun. The music was great and the numerous vendors provided an excellent shopping experience. A lot of the people in attendance elected to express their fashion sense by sporting the best in steampunk fashion. Be sure to follow Renninger’s events to see what is on the horizon. Even if Mount Dora is a little out of the way, it’s totally worth the trip.
Follow John Babcock Online:
Follow Jig To A Milestone Online:
Follow Phantasmagoria Online:
Follow The Bloody Jug Band Online:
Follow Celtic Conundrum Online:
I’ve had a love for photography since I was young. Whether it was a Polaroid or a Kodak 110, I was always the kid with the camera. My love of music goes back even further. Nothing beats being at a show when those lights go down and the crowd goes nuts.