SEBRING — Packrat Smokehouse will bring Florida Swamp Blues to Highlands Hammock when they make their first appearance on the Music in the Park stage for the Feb. 15 concert. The band, which originated in New Smyrna Beach, Florida, is deeply rooted in the traditional raw, gritty blues of the Mississippi Delta and the electric energy of Chicago urban blues.
Founder Anthony (Packrat) Thompson was influenced by blues greats John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Reed, Howlin’ Wolf and Sonny Boy Williamson. Exploring a common interest in roots blues music, he teamed up with lead guitarist Robert (Lightning Boy) Thomas, whose early musical efforts involved southern rock.
Thompson powers the band through his blues harp, songwriting, and husky baritone vocals together with Thomas’s driving guitar. Rounding out Smokehouse are Kenny (The Wizard) Sly on bass guitar, Aaron (Pop) Watson on drums and newest member Pete Beers on keyboards. Old southern legends, folklore and ghost stories of bygone days are central to the music in addition to blues classics.
Smokehouse’s third release “Cadillac in the Swamp” received honors when a writer from Living Blues Magazine stated, “The year 1995 was a great one for blues recording, but this irrepressible set of updated swamp blues earns this reviewer’s vote as the best of the lot.” Their music was also featured in a 1996 television production, “Savannah,” and a 2004 film, “The Road to Canyon Lake.”
Park Services Specialist Carla Sherwin stated, “As they are a newcomer to the Music in the Park series, we are hoping that Heartland concertgoers will give them a rousing welcome with a strong turnout on Saturday night. I’ve heard their music described by one ardent blues fan as “Creedence Clearwater Revival meets Howlin’ Wolf,” she further remarked.
Check out Packrat Smokehouse at www.packratssmokehousemusic.com/epk-1.
The California Toe Jam Band is scheduled for March 28, followed by T. C. Carr & Bolts of Blue on April 18 and Toney Rocks on May 23.
Bring lawn chairs, blankets and flashlights and enjoy an evening of music under the stars from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. The Hammock Inn concession is open and food vendors will be on site. Pets are not permitted, so please no dogs.
Admission for all concerts is $10 per adult. Accompanied children 12 years and younger are free. Admission applies to both campers and day visitors. Park entry fees are waived after 6 p.m.
Music in the Park concerts are sponsored by the Friends of Highlands Hammock State Park. Concert proceeds benefit park improvements. Highlands Hammock State Park is located at 5931 Hammock Road in Sebring.