Folk is People – Jacksonville Folk Music Scene

Folk is People is an ensemble that seamlessly fuses string driven Americana music with elements from folk, bluegrass and old country into an indie rock soundscape.

Attendees can sit with masters who uphold cultural traditions through jam sessions and demonstrations, such as playing mandolin or making pine needle baskets, while exploring Florida’s diverse communities’ histories and cultures.


Since long before Europeans set foot in Florida, indigenous Floridians have passed down songs through generations of Floridians. These folk songs can often be classified as ceremonial songs due to their sacred meaning and epic composition; many include stories or messages relevant to singers or their families that can be found only orally. Some were preserved through songbooks while others may only exist orally.

Northeast Florida was long the epicenter of an active folk music scene, from Arthur “Blind” Blake’s early blues to Gamble Rogers’ country and gospel songs influencing national genres. Gamble Rogers, in particular, fostered a distinctive regional sound which still thrives today with festivals dedicated to his memory such as Gamble Rogers Folk Festival honoring his legacy and influence within this scene.

Folk Music Jacksonville FL events first started in 1953 with one wooden stage, quickly expanding into multiple venues and drawing thousands of visitors annually. Today the event draws nationally known acts such as Indigo Girls and Crooked Fingers as well as continuing Gamble Rogers legacy by promoting traditional, regional, ethnic music, storytelling and heritage preservation.

In Florida during the 1930s and 1940s, teams of archivists traveled throughout with portable disc recorders to collect regional folksongs and folktales in multiple languages. Hear Stetson Kennedy, an early folklorist, discuss his work for the Florida Folklife Project alongside Zora Neale Hurston of Harlem Renaissance fame – as she discusses their contributions.

American Folklife Center’s digital collection now contains recordings spanning genres – blues, country and gospel are just a few – from blues to country and gospel music. Even damaged recordings have been included because they contain melodies or narratives which deserve preservation.

Folk musicians of today have also been heavily influenced by the traditions of earlier eras, adapting the styles from those earlier periods into their own unique forms – from Carter Family-esque bluegrass to more experimental rock sounds of Dead Milkmen or Shovels and Rope.


Folk music refers to a wide variety of culturally specific and community-focused musical traditions that span from pipe and tabor music, signing choirs, samba, handbell ringing and barbershop to acoustic guitar songs and intimate folk ballads. While its popularity may fluctuate from time to time, folk has never completely faded away.

Over several decades ago, traditional folk music experienced a revival in popularity. Artists like Pete Seeger, Dave Van Ronk, Peter, Paul and Mary and Bob Dylan helped spread it among a new generation. Meanwhile, disco music further separated folk from mainstream audiences, isolating it into smaller listening rooms and festivals.

Florida folk musicians have recorded in an array of genres. Country musicians such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and Blackfoot made names for themselves during the 1970s and 80s; punk rock groups like The Straight Jackets, Jackers & Art Holes flourished during this era; in addition to numerous ska, rock & pop musicians that reached chart positions throughout Florida during 1990s.

Florida boasts an expansive heritage of jazz and blues music. Winter Park-born Jim Rogers was renowned for creating humorous mythos around Oklawaha County residents with his wry sense of humor attracting wide audiences and earning him national renown.

Today, the region boasts many talented folk musicians and hosts numerous festivals that honor this style of music. One such celebration can be found in White Springs at Stephen Foster State Park; its Stephen Foster Festival dates back decades! These events not only give aspiring folk musicians an opportunity to hone their craft, but they’re also an entertaining source for both locals and visitors. When searching for local folk musicians, it is important to consider their background, musical style, performance history as well as audio/video clips of their work; listening/watching audio/video clips is helpful as is reading reviews by previous clients about their experiences working with this artist.


Jacksonville, Florida boasts many talented folk musicians. Some are singer-songwriters that blend traditional instruments with modern ones to create their own sound; others specialize in performing traditional tunes; still others are committed to preserving and performing traditional pieces while some even work alongside groups to organize local events or support touring acts.

Folk music reflects the culture, history and environment of its region. While its popularity may fluctuate over time, folk will always hold a place in people’s hearts; passing from generation to generation and new musicians making it their own.

Jeanie Fitchen has won the Florida Folk Heritage Award for her songwriting and performances, having toured both in America and Europe. Her recordings focus on Florida’s natural and cultural heritage and emphasize environmental justice as well as basic human dignity for all people.

Jeanie became interested in folk arts due to the work of WPA project employees during the folk revival of the 1960s. She performed at Tradewinds Tropical Lounge – an incubator for new singer-songwriters as well as meeting place for community activists – where she played songs at nightclub shows.

Folk is People is her latest album that explores the hardships faced by a character similar to Sisyphus: they must endure endless repetition of an undesirable task. Her goal for the album is that it inspires listeners to live more ethically.

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Gamble Rogers Folk Festival will feature over 100 artists over three days of celebration. Set against Florida’s warm backdrop, with RV and primitive camping available onsite as well as an easygoing atmosphere – featuring artists such as AJ Lee & Blue Summit, John Jorgenson Quintet, Jerron “Blind Boy” Paxton, Remedy Tree and many others!


Jacksonville folk music scene offers a diverse array of venues that provide excellent live entertainment, such as The Florida Theatre, Freebird Cafe and Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena. These popular spots host both local and national acts like folk bands, funk bands, rock musicians and country artists – plus there is usually drinks and food available during shows!

The Florida Folk Festival takes place annually during Memorial Day weekend in White Springs and celebrates Florida’s rich cultural heritage through performing arts performances like Irish fiddle tunes and contra dancing, basket making demonstrations, storytelling workshops, Irish fiddle tunes and contra dancing, Irish fiddle tunes and contra dancing, basket weaving demonstrations as well as storytelling! A unique way to experience Florida folk culture!

Jacksonville offers numerous venues that showcase folk music performances, from acoustic duos to full jazz bands. Some venues cater to local musicians while others feature more established musicians and performers. One great venue for seeing performances of folk music is Jacksonville Center for the Performing Arts which boasts various seating arrangements to meet diverse audience needs.

One of the premier venues in Jacksonville to listen to folk music is the Blue Jay Listening Room on Jacksonville Beach. Here, guests can relax while expanding their musical knowledge in an inviting environment curated specifically to your mood and experience. Their staff will help select pieces to suit it perfectly!

At Intuition Ale Works’ Bier Hall is another great venue to catch folk music live, offering full bar service and an assortment of in-house craft beers. Capacity for 500, the Bier Hall provides the ideal setting to experience live indie, Americana and alt-folk sets.

Finding an acoustic duo, trio or five-piece band to perform at your next event shouldn’t be hard with online booking services making it simple to compare and book the ideal music for any location imaginable.