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Folk musicians visit Billie Swamp

BIG CYPRESS — Florida folk musicians held their annual Florida Swamp Getaway on Dec. 3-4 at the Big Cypress Reservation, hosted by Billie Swamp Safari.

Performers included Frank Thomas of Lake Wales, the genre’s patriarch and chief songwriter; Whitey Markle, the Citra Swamp Rooter king; Miami songstress Valerie C. Wisecracker; national songwriter Jim Mason; harmonica wizard T.C. Carr of St. Petersburg; and the Bullard Brothers from White Springs. The eclectic group toured the region in airboats and swamp buggies and performed a six-hour concert at the Swamp Water Café.

Tradition regarding a recent death in the Bird Clan prevented Seminole Chairman James E. Billie from joining the festive group. Billie is a noted Florida folk singer-songwriter in his own right.

“What a great weekend!” said Wisecracker, who praised BSS Marketing Director Melissa Sherman and her staff for accommodating everyone’s needs. “Everyone was so attentive to every detail. Some people might have been a little nervous about sleeping out here surrounded by gators and panthers, but the Billie Swamp Safari staff made us all feel at home.”

Also joining the crowd were musicians Mac Martin from Arcadia; Pat Barmore from Clearwater; Lisa Thomas from Lake Wales; Charlie Cook from Lakeland; Ken Crawford from Tallahassee; Guy Labree from Pine Level; Raiford Starke from Immokalee; and Judge Zip Robertson from Miami.

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