Friday May 14, 2021 I headed out to the wooded and rolling hills of Brooksville, Florida. The drive was pleasant as the fields and county side are occupied mainly by livestock and horses. I was on the way to the 11th annual Orange Blossom Jamboree at the Sertoma Youth Ranch for the first time. After checking the GPS multiple times feeling I must be lost, I finally arrived at the guard shack at the ranch entrance. The staff quickly got me checked in and issued my photo credentials and pointed me in the direction of the open field for which I was to park. They had instructed me of where the foot bridge was located to enter the campground behind the main pavilion. I parked the truck and headed over the narrow bridge that ran above the creek into the festivals campground. I was a day late for the start of the festival but the campsites I traveled through were well established as they appeared to have been pitched weeks ago and not just a day ago. There were cars, vans, RV’s, and tents, lots of tents! Ropes were tied between trees with tapestries and draped as barriers between campsites for privacy. I immediately got the flavor of the event as I was in the middle of Tie Dye, Grateful Dead, Woodstock, and Paisley hangings.
I worked my way to the pavilion and surveyed the scene. The first band of the day,”The Good Wood Band” from Jacksonville, was in the middle of their sound check. The large covered pavilion houses the Cypress Stage and has seating capacity for 550 folding chairs on the concrete pad. To the left of the Cypress Stage and within view, just down a small incline was the Citrus Stage. The audience section for that stage was grass and covered with blankets for fan seating in open air. The third stage, the Clementine stage wasn’t visible from my vantage point. That stage was down a sandy road and in the thicker wooded camping area. Luckily, there were three bands before I would have to venture down that path to the Clementine Stage. When it finally became time, I walked to the campsites, past the the vendors in their tents selling jewelry, pictures, and assorted crafts. A bridge led to the back camping area past the yoga pavilion where a class was currently being experienced. After some backtracking and searching I found my way to the Clementine Stage. The stage area was inside what appeared to be a covered storage area similar to a large garage. The audience area was sandy with a couple of picnic tables surrounded by RV’s. This venue understandably had less bands booked on the schedule. As the front two stages ran alternately and consecutively for eleven hours non stop, the Clementine schedule had start times that straddled the other two stage schedules so that no band would be missed if one was willing to take a short walk. My hat’s off to the promoters as every band stayed on the strict scheduled time slots and the entertainment was continuous and seamless.
When I got hungry, a side road that stretched behind the Citrus Stage had at least ten food trucks lined up with unique menu items. Not feeling all that adventurous, I settled on a pulled pork sandwich for dinner that night. Multiple vendors in pop up tents were also selling beverages to keep everyone hydrated and were located around the two front stages.
Every band invited to the Orange Blossom Jamboree must be a Florida band. The bands performed their own songs for the most part, except the few tribute bands on the four day bill. The talent was outstanding and most, if not all bands had albums for sale or to give away. The common sediment from the artists all weekend was, “We are so grateful to be on stage again after the past years pandemic stifled large gatherings.” I was in awe at how tight and intertwined the musicians in the Florida music community are. Half of the acts invited artists from other bands to join them during their performances on stage. It was a warm show of unity and a lack of ego as the bands appeared to be having more fun than the audience. Love was in the air and everyone was feeling it. There weren’t police officers or security guards present as they were not needed. Campers were courteous and environmentally conscious as the grounds were in most cases spotless! Off the stages there were artists, face painters, acrobats, and even a baton fire show after dark. The vibe was incredible and took me back to a time in the late 1960’s and 1970’s when things were much simpler. The majority of the ranch population at the festival were Baby Boomers, and the children of Baby Boomers. Humanity still has a chance if we don’t erase the past. The environment was a safe one and everyone was here for the music and the experience. Peace!
It was Friday, my first day and like the bands, I haven’t been or covered a festival in over a year. Just three stages and eleven hours of music, I’ve got this! I photographed each band posting the origin and time slots below. I will however share some of the highlights.
The second band of the day was the Grindstone Sinners from Deland, Florida. I have been covering this band since 2017 every time I can. They are a talented group of young musicians and always put on a great tie dye show. The Sinner’s are perfect for this festival and to date I have never seen them put on a bad show. Definitely a band everyone needs to experience.
Shevonne’s performance blew me away. This lady is a top notch entertainer with golden vocal cords. I have seen a lot of performances as I have been covering music for the magazine and rarely do I see a performance that has so much soul and grace. I was informed later Shevonne has performed on the TV airwaves in America’s Most Talented Kids, America’s Got Talent (Wild Card Round) and 2 appearances on American Idol. That was an outstanding Set Shevonne!
Below are the pictures from each performance. Please stay with All Music Magazine for the next two days of coverage as they are posted.
The Good Wood Band is a family jam/blues band out of Jacksonville, Florida 1:00pm – 2:00pm Cypress Stage
Grindstone Sinners are a blues, soul, psychedelic jam from Debary, Florida 2:05pm – 3:05pm Citrus Stage
Hanna Harber & The Lionhearts country and rock from Sanford, Florida 3:10pm – 4:10pm Cypress Stage
Ashley Smith & The Random Occurrence from Tampa, Florida 3:45pm – 4:45pm Clementine Stage
Shoeless Soul from Dunedin, Florida 4:15pm – 5:15pm Citrus Stage
The Applebutter Express from Tampa, Florida featuring sweet harmonies with a bluegrass/
Row Jomah is a five piece fusion jam band from Clearwater, Florida 7:00pm – 8:00pm Clementine Stage
Anthill Cinema A 7-piece experimental fusion collective from St. Petersburg, Florida 7:30pm – 8:55pm Cypress Stage
Steeln’ Peaches an Allman Brothers tribute band from Orlando, Florida 9:00pm – 10:15pm Citrus Stage
GoldernEra is a hiphop jam band out of Seminole Heights, Florida 9:45pm – 10:45pm Clementine Stage
Uncle John’s Band formed in 1990 in Clearwater, Florida (Greatful Dead Tribute Band) 10:20pm – 12:00pm Cypress Stage
About The Sertoma Youth Ranch:
The Sertoma Youth Ranch was established in 1973. Since it’s inception, it has been enjoyed by over 1,650 youth groups. The Sertoma Youth Ranch operates as a 501-(3)(c) Non-Profit Organization. The development is sponsored by the Ranch Hands Sertoma Club for mentally and physically challenged children and adults. Part of the income from all festivals goes to maintenance and improvements to the facility. The park has camping sites for RV’s with water and electric as well as primitive campsites. There are Restrooms with hot showers, a bunkhouse with 8 beds, 225 campsites with water and electric hookups, fire Rings throughout many campsites, propane and RV dump station, acres of woods with walking paths, and a spring fed creek. Located on the boarder of Hernando and Pasco counties, north of Dade City and south of Spring Lake, this remote 85 acre setting is in a serene area great for rustic outdoor recreation. Sertoma Ranch is the ideal place to bring youth and nature together. Pets on leashes are also welcome. From their website: “It is our mission to provide a rustic outdoor recreational area for the children of Florida. We believe that our children should inherit this small haven of Florida in its natural state.”
In addition to the use of the facilities, there is a covered pavilion with a stage and green room that seats 550 folding chairs measuring 120′ X 65′ built for sound definition. Some of the past festivals include The Orange Blossom Jamboree, Broken String Fling, Spirit of Woodstock, Celtic Family Jamboree, Bluegrass Festival, Spring Break Music Fest and the Riverhawk Music Festival.
Follow Orange Blossom Jamboree:
Follow Sertoma Youth Ranch Online:
Photographer and Editor/Founder of AllMusicMagazine.com. My love of live music has taken me to incredible experiences with the top bands of all time in stadium shows to the smallest venues with equally inspiring musicians. Using the medium of photography and my publication, these memories will last forever.