Best of Broward / Palm Beach

Ten Greatest South Florida Folk Singers of All Time

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6. Rod MacDonald

Another veteran of the Greenwich Village folk scene, Rod MacDonald's happily ensconced in Delray and still manages to eke out a pretty good living with frequent touring and an ongoing series of master classes at FIU where he lectures on songwriting and technique.

Prior to relocating to these realms in 1995, MacDonald was a constant presence at many of New York's most prestigious folk clubs, including Gerdes Folk City and the Bottom Line, and his level activity both here and abroad hasn't faltered since.

Despite frequent overseas tours, he manages to make regular Florida appearances, not only under his own auspices, but also as part of his Dylan tribute band Big Brass Bed and in a traditional group setting with singer Tracy Sands. Their songs are devoted to social and political commentary; his "American Jerusalem" was hailed for its commentary about the contrast between the rich and the poor. It's little wonder his material has been covered by the likes of Dave Van Ronk, Shawn Colvin, Jonathan Edwards, and the ubiquitous Four Bitchin' Babes.

He can also claim ten solo albums and shared stages with Emmylou Harris, Pete Seeger, Peter Yarrow, Richie Havens, Ani DiFranco, Odetta, Suzanne Vega, and the Violent Femmes. Whew! If you've never caught him in concert, keep a lookout. It's only a matter of time before you find him playing in a pub near you.

5. Vince Martin

Like his one time musical partner Fred Neil, Vince Martin established his base early on in South Florida. While little known to the public at large, he gained a respected reputation among his musical peers. His duo album with Neil, Tear Down The Walls, gained him some measure of fame, although it consisted mainly of Neil's songs. Nevertheless, the presence of John Sebastian (just prior to the formation of the Lovin' Spoonful) and Felix Papalardi (later a mainstay of the band Mountain and a prime producer for Cream) demonstrate early star attraction.

His 1969 album If the Jasmine Don't Get You... the Bay Breeze Will was recorded in Nashville, with many of the musicians that appeared on Dylan's Nashville Skyline. Nevertheless, it was his eponymous effort released by Capitol Records in 1973 that offered him the greatest chance for meshing with the mainstream. Despite guest appearances by Sebastian, Van Dyke Parks, and a young Hank Williams Jr., that promise remained unfilled. We can only hope that a recent documentary entitled Vagabondo! may eventually bring him the kudos he's due.

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Lee Zimmerman