Amy Carol Webb Believes, "Florida Folk Music Has a Deep Heritage" | County Grind | South Florida | Broward Palm Beach New Times | The Leading Independent News Source in Broward-Palm Beach, Florida


Amy Carol Webb Believes, "Florida Folk Music Has a Deep Heritage"

There's something to be said about an artist who tirelessly plies her craft, and yet even after nine albums, retains her overall optimism. And when that artist is working in an arena like folk music, in a place like South Florida, where that genre has never been top of mind, that perseverance is all the more impressive.

But leave it to the Oklahoma-born, Broward-bred Amy Carol Webb to hone her folk finesse and take her rightful place at the helm of that particular pantheon. Call her the grand dame of Florida folk or simply its reigning diva. Either way, Webb continues to pursue the starry-eyed idealism and effusive innocence that's intrinsic to the music made by all traditional tunesmiths.

This is clearly evident in Webb's emotionally charged new album Welcome Home, a heartfelt paean to Florida's habitats and inhabitants, the state's folk tradition and musical forebears that created the template used by all those who have followed their lead.

Boasting five new songs from Webb's own pen and the remainder from such venerable former standard bearers as Will McLean, Steve Blackwell, and Ann Thomas, it's imbued with the additional authenticity of having been recorded live at a festival campground.

"Florida folk music has a deep heritage of making music for and about Florida. To preserve her history, her habitat, her people one step at a time," Webb says, setting up the circumstances. "The new songs on Welcome Home inherit the privilege of carrying on that legacy."

The common thread in Webb's narrative is her expression of appreciation for her fellow musicians, particularly those who operate within those folk music circles.

For her part, she says she's merely giving credit where credit is due. "While songwriting is most often a solitary experience, song-making at its best is a community undertaking, especially when we are gifted with a community like Florida folk. This CD only became possible because more than 20 musicians of this community gathered up with me under a camper canopy in a festival campground to record half of it live, all for the sheer love of the music."

It's little wonder then that our local environs, in a way, share billing with Webb herself. The album's subheading, Florida Songs - Florida Friends, adroitly describes the music she offers within. "The Florida folk tradition is two-fold," Webb goes on to explain. "One part is about writing new music to keep telling Florida's stories. The second is continuing to play and record the music of our past troubadours to keep their music alive. This CD does both, with five songs from beloved Florida songwriters who are no doubt gathered up to jam in Florida heaven."

Webb's unabashed optimism effectively moots any preconceived notion that Florida is some kind of backwater country as far as full-fledged folk music is concerned. "Taking Florida as a whole, there's not another place I know of with as rich and textured a folk community, and I've traveled more than half a million miles playing music. Though the acoustic music scene in South Florida operates largely under the radar, it's still here and always will be. Popular or not, you just can't keep people from grabbing a guitar and getting it started!"

As for her own ambitions, Webb insists she's satisfied. That unerringly upbeat attitude seems to permeate every pronouncement. In addition to her musical pursuits, she also opted to go to seminary school and recently became an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister.

"It was the natural next step for me, being a music activist committed to the transformational power of music joining with Unitarian Universalism's focus on social justice, preserving the environment and empowering people the be the change the world needs." Webb admits, "I was nine years old when I first wanted to be a musician and a minister. Now I'm getting to be everything I wanted to be, and it's everything I'd hoped for."

A CD release concert for Welcome Home will take place at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, September 8 at the Labryrinth Café, located at the Unitarian Universal Church of Fort Lauderdale, 3970 N.W. 21 Avenue, Fort Lauderdale. Tickets cost $17 in advance, $20 at the door. Phone 954-478-8637.

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Lee Zimmerman

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