The duo of Franc Robert and Cindy bear wowed the judges.
Another OSFR RiverFest in the books
SUNDAY, MAY 12, 2019
LAKE CITY REPORTER
By MICHAEL PHILIPS
The ninth annual Santa Fe River Songwriting Contest and the associated Our Santa Fe River RiverFest festival recently concluded, and by all accounts, a good time was had by all. There were seven great contestants, a fantastic blues band, and even a genuine — a term used loosely here — barbershop quartet.
Local activist Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson.
The contest was founded by local activist Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson as a cultural-awareness event for the river, as part of the local art movement of the river culture. It was an immediate hit and was later incorporated into and sponsored by the envi-ronmental group Our Santa Fe River. Its annual event and primary fundraiser for the nonprofit is now known as RiverFest.
“I started the contest nine years ago, because I found that there was no music that captured how I feel about the Santa Fe River and no songs about it,” Malwitz-Jipson said. “So I reached out to musicians and asked them to write songs and sing about our beloved river.” The response to her call out was extraordinary. “There are now about 80 songs about the Santa Fe River. When I started the contest, there were none,” Malwitz-Jipson said.
Increasing interest in local rivers is needed now more than ever, OSFR historian Jim Tatum stressed.“Over the years, the Song Contest . . . has drawn attention to the fact that the Santa Fe River is dying and that we must act now to save it and other North Florida rivers and springs,” Tatum said. “This has been possible because of the dedication of Merrillee and the many volunteers who work very hard over a period of months to make the event a success for the river and the community.
The mighty, mighty Phelgmtones. From left: Mike Roth, Rodney Samuels, Tyson Adams and Dave Jacobs.
”Cindy Bear and Franc Robert impressed the judges and won this year’s edition of the song-writing contest. Ricky Kendall finished runner up, and to Billy “Sweet William” Ennis and Karen Mullins were awarded co-third-place finishers. The panel of judges consisted of Ed Amaya, Ellen Bukstel and Qquincy.
The “genuine” barbershop was a novelty group that dubbed themselves Phelgmtones, whose members — Dave Jacobs, Rodney Samuel, Tyson Adams and Michael Roth — delighted the RiverFest crowd. The main act, the Lake City-based Devil Jays, kept festival-goers’ toes tapping with a three-hour, blues-inspired performance.
All of the songwriting contestants, bookend by Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson and Our Santa Fe River President Michael Roth.