Americana Music Series at Camp Helen State Park Starts Jan 9

December 28, 2015 by SoWal Staff

Some of the best American Roots musicians touring the country today will play at Camp Helen’s Americana Music Concerts this winter. The third annual concert series is going down in the Lodge every other Saturday from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
The lineup has a thing for harmony and picking and belting out that lonesome sound. Concert dates are:
January 9 | The Currys
January 23 | Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen
February 6 | Lucky Mud
February 20 | Passerine
March 5 | Dana Cooper


January 9 brings The Currys to Camp Helen.  Members of this Port St. Joe band have developed their brand of homegrown, harmony-rich Americana through summers of writing and performing on the Florida Gulf Coast. 
The trio of two brothers and a cousin has gained a regional following, performing regularly at festivals and venues across the Southeast. And, they’ve headlined a tour across Ireland, the subject of a PBS documentary. Released in the spring of 2014, the album “Follow” testifies to the countless hours spent in musical symbiosis, shaping the words and melodies of three distinct singers/songwriters into one cohesive voice.
On January 23, Camp Helen presents the duo of Steve Gillette and Cindy Mangsen. This twosome represents the very best in both contemporary and traditional folk music. They’ve performed together for 25 years, bringing to listeners their love of traditional music and their many original songs.
Songwriter Steve Gillette’s songs have been covered by John Denver, Garth Brooks, Linda Ronstadt, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings, and others. (You had me at Waylon.) Cindy Mangsen, one of the “finest singers in American folk music,” is known for her compelling interpretations of traditional ballads, as well as for her own writing and her wonderful ear for harmony.
February 6 features Lucky Mud, hosts of three years of Americana Music at Camp Helen. Maggie and Michael McKinney pair their love of beautifully written lyrics with melodies that fit the words seamlessly, reaching out and touching their audiences with a voice that both amuses and surprises.
Calling their sound “Mud Music,” they’ve brought their sounds from Ireland and England, to Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, and finally to The States. Their music can involve yodeling, rhythmic drumbeats, soft and sweet harmonies, and “rootsy, wicked, belt-it-out swamp sounds.”
Passerine, named for an order of birds, presents a concert on February 20.  The name “Passerine” includes the sweetness of songbirds and the mythic raven.  Passerine’s distinctive sound combines vocal harmonies, the crisp rhythms of an acoustic guitar, the haunting voices of fiddle and dobro, and the resonant lows of an acoustic bass. 
With inventive vocal harmonies and song-writing, supported by the sounds of acoustic strings, Passerine (Carmela Pedicini, David Brain, Sara Moone, and Doug Conroy) offers a fresh take on traditional folk and bluegrass music, as well as a repertoire of original songs ranging from sweet ballads to edgier works.
March 5 brings the final performance of the Camp Helen series, the return of Dana Cooper, a “powerhouse” troubadour who has dedicated himself to a life of music for 40 years. He has performed worldwide, bringing to his songs and singing a history of diverse occupations, from taxi driver to waiter, from nurse’s aide to warehouseman.
Cooper’s mixture of flat picking, finger picking, and percussive strumming style is legendary among guitarists, while his expressive voice evokes a rich lifetime of experience.
Camp Helen’s Americana Music Concert series is hosted by Lucky Mud and sponsored by Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection and the Friends of Camp Helen State Park.

Camp Helen State Park is a place where visitors can explore an environment rich in natural and cultural resources. The park is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico on three sides, and by Lake Powell, one of the largest coastal dune lakes in Florida.
Prehistoric middens and mounds indicate that humans inhabited the area more than 4,000 years ago. From 1945 until 1987 Camp Helen was a company resort for the employees of an Alabama textile mill, known as Avondale Mills. Some of those buildings have now been restored. This 180-acre park is for day use only. Activities include swimming, beachcombing, nature study, hiking and both freshwater and saltwater fishing.
Entrance into the park for the concerts is free. Camp Helen State Park is at 23937 Panama City Beach Parkway (Highway 98 near Lake Powell). The Friends of Camp Helen will accept donations- all of which will be used to benefit the park. For more information, call (850) 233-5059, visit,, or email


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