Singing songs of praise to our Savior

Published 11:00 am Sunday, February 27, 2022

Palatka, Florida isn’t associated with beautiful beaches or surf-side cottages, but it is home to the Rodeheaver Boys’ Ranch which hosts two Bluegrass festivals each year. Othel and I visited that event this past weekend, seated in our own lawn chairs in a monstrous-size pavilion along with a wad of other Bluegrass enthusiasts.

Bluegrass music, according to those who know it best for the longest time, consider it the only true remnant of the original country and western music. It appears from being among this dying breed of music lovers that if this unique “tribe” doesn’t produce more of its kind, it will be history. I surmised this simply from observation. It was an audience of seniors — as in gray hair, walkers, canes, wrinkles, and more comfortable than fashionable wearing apparel. I felt right at home!

Accommodations were offered for the three-day event — a delta-size pasture for the hundreds of campers that were assigned a parking spot. After Othel got us parked and hooked up to water and electricity, we grabbed our lawn chairs and headed to the first round of performances which ran from 1:00 pm to 9 or 10:00, Thursday through Saturday evenings. It was a prodigious helping of Bluegrass music!

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

People watchers would find this a fascinating event. The sights and sounds abounded in every imaginable variety. In my music appreciating mind, there seemed no end to the musical talent from the musicians. Fiddles, Dobros, bass fiddles, banjos, mandolins, guitars and occasional drums and steel guitars were music makers only because of their gifted artists. The majority of the voices were pleasing to the hearers, but a few made it under the guise of “practice will eventually make a difference!”

I’m definitely a novice at this brand of music, but the weekend was definitely educational. I learned that seniors still have a lot of rhythm and enjoy music, even though they may need to have the volume turned up.  They are resilient; the sessions were long with only an hour break, but there were very few empty chairs for the entire evening. Ice cream will always be a favorite food for all ages.

Seniors are the most frugal of all age groups. Take-in snacks were allowed, so most had a sack of goodies brought from home. One of the groups asked for a show of hands of those who had been married fifty years. There were a lot! The winning couple of most-years-married was applauded for their accomplishment of 66 years.

For me, the song titles and themes of the music were the most interesting of all. Check out a few:  “Man of Constant Sorrow,” “Muleskinner Blues,” “Ruby, Are You Mad?” “Sea of Heartbreak,” “When My Blue Moon Turns To Gold Again,” “Heartaches and Teardrops.”

So many of the songs were about lost love, breakups, drinking and death. One artist sang a real crowd-pleaser: “I Wish You’d Love Me Like My Dog Does.” As I listened to some of these repeated themes, I was grateful for my old Baptist Hymnal that was filled with songs of hope and praise — songs that were a part of my heritage and background.

A majority of the performing groups would include or close with a “gospel song.” With this age group, there needed to be more — songs that shared Christ’s salvation and the life that can be overcome in spite of lost love, breakups, drinking and death.

Othel and I enjoyed the music and weekend in Palatka. We joined with the audience per request of one of the groups to sing “I’ve Got A Mansion.”  I was grateful to sing and KNOW that Jesus has gone to prepare a place for His own — where the music will have only heavenly themes. Words like heartache and teardrops will be history.


Letters to Camille Anding can be sent to P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, MS 39602, or emailed to