Standing on the shoulders of a giant

Concert series, festival to celebrate Florida legend Gamble Rogers


The St. Johns Cultural Council, the organization that promotes arts, culture and heritage in St. Augustine, has announced the second annual Live from The Waterworks: A Gamble Rogers Concert Series to commemorate Gamble Rogers, a renowned musician and storyteller who is regarded as the ambassador of Florida folk culture.

The intimate monthly performances, beginning Oct. 21, will support the annual Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, taking place April 14-16. Live from The Waterworks will celebrate the legendary recording artist, whose balladry and storytelling shaped American folk music.

“Gamble Rogers is one of Florida's most iconic musicians and we’re thrilled to host this event to celebrate his life and legacy,” said Christina Parrish Stone, executive director of the St. Johns Cultural Council. “Rogers’ contributions to the state’s music scene were immense, but his influence extended far beyond, inspiring generations of musicians across the country. This event will feature not only amazing folk music, but also stories about Rogers and his enduring legacy.”

Known as the “Florida troubadour,” Rogers popularized the state's folk traditions in music, storytelling, writing and philosophical humor. He inspired many artists, including Jimmy Buffett, to expand their capacity for storytelling and their musical talent.

Rogers first gained national attention as a lead singer and guitarist, both acoustic and electric, for the band The Serendipity Singers. His solo career earned national acclaim, and he appeared on talk shows across the country, hosted numerous music specials and continued to play his whimsical, spellbinding music.

At the age of 54, Rogers died trying to save a drowning man at Flagler Beach. He is remembered today through the Gamble Rogers Memorial Foundation and the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival.

Beginning in October, on the third Saturday of each month, a local musician will open for a nationally known act at The Waterworks, 184 San Marco Ave. in St. Augustine. The venue was built in 1898 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.    

The schedule includes:

Live from The Waterworks: The Driftwoods featuring Christian Ward, Oct. 21

The Driftwoods are a musical family of friends who perform original contemporary and old-time tunes. Their song variety is one of the hallmarks of their stage presentation. The group has been performing together in Northern Florida and the Southeast for more than 30 years. Eric Searcy is on the banjo and dobro, Gabriel Valla on mandolin and guitar, Elisabeth Williamson on rhythm guitar and banjo, and Lon Williamson is on the upright bass.

Live from The Waterworks: Jordan Tice, Nov. 18

Jordan Tice is a singer, songwriter and guitarist who combines witty, well-crafted songs with deft fingerstyle and flat pick guitar playing. His performances have been compared to those of musical legends including Leo Kottke, John Hartford and David Bromberg for their mix of virtuosity and playfulness. His songs have been compared to those of writers Bob Dylan and John Prine for their humor, introspection and philosophical nature.

Folk fans might recognize Tice as a member of the instrumental bluegrass supergroup Hawktail, as well as his sideman work with many other artists in the folk and bluegrass genre such as Dave Rawlings, Andrew Marlin (Mandolin Orange), Yola, Tony Trischka and comedian Steve Martin.

Live from The Waterworks: John Paul White, Dec. 16

John Paul White grew up in tiny Loretto, Tennessee, and now lives in Florence, Alabama, close to Muscle Shoals. He has cultivated a music career in Nashville for two decades, first as a songwriter for a major publisher, then half of The Civil Wars, a groundbreaking duo that won four Grammy Awards before disbanding in 2012.

White’s album “The Hurting Kind” draws on the lush, orchestrated music made in Nashville in the early 1960s. Yet, his songs retain a modern feel, whether he’s writing about overwhelming love, unraveling relationships or fading memories of a loved one.

Live from The Waterworks: Richard Smith, Jan. 20

Richard Smith picked up the guitar when he was 5 years old and soon became a child prodigy. He formed the Richard Smith Guitar Trio with his brothers Rob and Sam. He married American cellist Julie Adams and moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Smith was the winner of the National Fingerstyle Guitar Championship, held in Kansas in 2001.

In 2008, Smith was the Thumbpicker of the Year, a title given by The National Thumbpickers Hall of Fame where he was inducted in 2009. In 2011, the Association of Fingerstyle Guitarists presented Smith with its Golden Thumbpick Award.                                                                                       

Live from The Waterworks: Jontavious Willis, Feb. 17

Jontavious Willis was born and raised in rural Georgia, an environment with deep cultural roots that provides the inspiration he has continuously drawn upon to create his unique sound. An early phenom, his passion for the blues was sparked at age 14 when he came across a YouTube video of Muddy Waters playing “Hoochie Coochie Man.” He achieved widespread acclaim when living legend Taj Mahal invited him to accompany him onstage in 2015, with Taj describing him as his “Wonderboy.”

Willis is resolved in his mission: to reinvigorate today’s blues with the spirit of the past. Inspired by a time when the blues were plentiful and rhythm reigned supreme, Willis leverages his unique sound, a synthesis of his Georgia heritage and reverence for traditional blues to get the world dancing again.

A Grammy-nominated musician and songwriter, Willis performs original, toe-tapping tunes in the style of Delta, Piedmont, Texas and gospel blues. Dynamic vocals, technical prowess and an abundance of Southern charm keep Willis sending jolts of vitality through the blues community.

Live from The Waterworks: Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, March 16

Take a 15-time International Bluegrass Music Association Dobro Player of the Year and a Tennessee-born guitar prodigy who made his Grand Ole Opry debut at the age of 11, and you have Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, a powerhouse acoustic duo that has electrified the acoustic music scene. Known for their white-hot picking, stone country vocals with soul and world-class live musicianship, Ickes and Hensley meld together blues, bluegrass, country, rock and other string band music of all kinds to form a signature blend of music that defies restrictions of genre. 

28th Annual Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, April 14-16

The 28th Annual Gamble Rogers Festival will be a weekend of folk, Americana and bluegrass music by renowned singers, songwriters and storytellers who were influenced by Gamble Rogers’ music. The entire music festival showcases dozens of national, regional and local musicians and storytellers.

In addition to the musical performances, there will be workshops, youth crafts, pony rides, a petting zoo and more. Food trucks and vendors will be available. Festival attendees have the option to stay and camp at the venue with reservations. Camping reservations must be made in advance and day-of festival tickets will be available at the gate.

Live from The Waterworks: Peter Rowan, May 18

Grammy-award winner and member of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame Peter Rowan is a singer-songwriter with a career spanning more than five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass veteran Bill Monroe to his time in Old & In the Way and his breakout as a solo musician and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through a solid stream of recordings, collaborative projects and constant touring.

Live from The Waterworks: Kyshona Trio, June 22

Kyshona is an artist ignited by untold stories and the capacity of those stories to thread connections in every community. With a background as a licensed music therapist, the curiosity of a writer, the resolve of an activist and the voice of a singer, Kyshona is unrelenting in her pursuit for the healing power of song. Kyshona blends roots, rock, R&B and folk with lyrical prowess. She is a sought-after collaborative vocalist working with artists like Margo Price and Adia Victoria and is a burgeoning performer in her own right with her 2020 release “Listen,” voted Best Protest Album of 2020 by Nashville Scene.

Ticket prices for Live from The Waterworks performances begin at $20 and may be purchased through Eventbrite and at

The event is supported by the Gamble Rogers Folk Festival, a registered 501(c)3 established to commemorate Americana folk music and the St. Johns Cultural Council, which promotes arts, culture and heritage activities and events in St. Augustine, Ponte Vedra and the beaches.

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