Orange Blossom Jamboree – Preview

The Florida music scene is going off! Great new grassroots fests are popping up week after week. Right on the heels of North Florida’s Purple Hatter’s Ball (review coming shortly) is the Bay area’s response. This weekend (5/20-22), the 2nd annual Orange Blossom Jamboree returns to Sertoma Youth Ranch (also site of the first AURA Music Fest) just north of Tampa. Truly a homegrown event, every band is Sunshine State based. You can check them out on this 3-disc compilation featuring a song from each. For more on 2011’s OBJ, read on.

Words by: Adam E. Smith

Like a flood on the music-thirsty masses, the festival season levees have opened and the concert cornucopias are fast approaching. Floridians interested in featured local acts have already started Pythian Games-like tradition with the 5-day city fete SunFest 2011 and with just enough time to catch your breath and recover Orange Blossom Jamboree offers up a totally different but equally enticing vibe on the West Coast.

Orange Blossom returns for its sophomore year and has adapted the credo: try everything once and all the good things at least twice. The line-up boasts a strong mix of state champions getting their second nod while other local powerhouses join the ranks with full intentions of competing as headliners. The semi-isolated festival grounds take circuit followers away from the downtown setting and offer a low key camping experience on the Sertoma Youth Ranch in Brooksville. Don’t be alarmed if you aren’t one to rough it because festival luxuries like hot showers, clean restrooms, ice and covered pavilions will be available in addition to the staple setups by food, clothing and art vendors. Other amenities include nature trails lined with thematic wild oranges, a basketball court, picnic tables, open fields and Spanish moss draped oak trees for shade. All in all it’s an eclectic mix of Florida nature with a comfort level that should keep the 1,500 expected patrons comfortable and smiling this year.

The music starts before noon on Friday with a dose of psychedelic rock from Fungus Garden Reverb and goes late into the night with the seemingly enigmatic All Capital Kyle taking the closing slot. Follow the early Jamboree path and be sure to spend time with Trekkie-fusion space jazz techs Bride of Chaotica, folk-fusion picking historians The Halifax Contraband, energy driven hybrid-bluegrass youngsters Greenland is Melting and cool down to smooth funky jazz with the lyrically gifted Amy Hendrickson & The Prime Detective.

You will be less than marathon distance from the ocean so a bit of lively tropical ska with Johnny Cakes & the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypso will start the evening off right before bluesy Americana group Skull and Bone Band kick off a sunset session of grooves with Middle Rhythm Session, crowd favorites the Funky Seeds and trip-hop dance-party-in-a-box Robot Ears. Gather around the Mojo Stage as experimental jam natives Cope blow up their home turf with an extended dose of rocking alternative flavor that will have the crowd looking for coping mechanisms when it is all said and done.

Bean Spence

Pull yourself out of bed on Saturday morning and stumble over to the New Gravity set for some tasty jam on your breakfast toast. From there things heat up throughout the afternoon with sway dance inspiring quartet Burlington Breeze Project,  a dash of indie rock from The Transfers, aggressive folk punk shots of Elephant Gun and back to back female-lead bluesy soul shakers Beebs & Her Money Makers and Honey Henny Lime trading time between the Citrus and Mojo (main) stages.

Set up a picnic for lunch and re-energize your dancing legs for a double dose on the Mojo Stage with funkUs’ “flavor rock” and Sosos’acoustic soul before aesthetics become audible with homegrown Saltwater Grass and South East Florida’s premiere Grateful Dead reincarnation Crazy Fingers. Rounding out the genre spectrum is funk-hop positive power group Green Sunshine opening things up for a string of native giants that do not need description – 3rd Stone, Cypress, The Heavy Pets and Legacy. It does not get much better than that on a Saturday night in Florida.

Before heading out on Sunday make sure to get a second helping of 3rd Stone and Legacy as well as some dub in the morning with Scholars Word, a feel good blues session with Veefinger and some thick funk rhythms from Worldwide Zoo after the highly competitive Coolest Campsite Contest.

Now pay your respects to Apollo for this age old tradition of community and merry-making via music and art. Florida’s summer is in session and the festival season has begun!

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