Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park’s radio studio debuts with Don Miller’s bluegrass show!

SOSMP Radio studio's first day on air Aug. 8, 2010 with bluegrass radio host Don Miller

SOSMP Radio studio's first day on air Aug. 8, 2010 with bluegrass radio host Don Miller
SOSMP Radio studio's first day on air Aug. 8, 2010 with bluegrass radio host Don Miller

SPIRIT OF THE SUWANNEE MUSIC PARK, LIVE OAK, FLA – It was an historic day Aug. 8, 2010 when the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park (SOSMP) in Live Oak, Fla launched its first radio studio. Don Miller’s longtime bluegrass radio show was the first broadcast to air at the studio, going out over WLV0 106.1 FM radio. Famed bluegrass radio DJ “Doctor” Don Miller brought his 9-year-old bluegrass show to the SOSMP to be the very first program aired on the studio nestled under the moss-laden oak trees in the Arts and Crafts Village.

The program is made possible in cooperation with WLVO radio station owner Leon Petterson, who also broadcasts some of the live musical events from the SOSMP and plans to do even more.

Leon Petterson WLVO 106.1 owner
Leon Petterson WLVO 106.1 owner

“Bluegrass is the foundation of the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park,” said SOSMP CEO/President James Cornett. “My family started taking me to bluegrass festivals as a child. We produced our first festival when I was 12,” he added. “At that time it was a family project, and it continues today. We are excited about our expanding partnership with WLVO and our ability to grow our business. Radio is a perfect fit and a great asset to the Park,” Cornett stated. “Don Miller has been a stalwart in the bluegrass community nationwide. He has helped facilitate this dream of our late Uncle Charles, and we are grateful,” Cornett said. “We hope to work with Leon Petterson and Don Miller to expand programming, including more musical genre’s and talk show formats. Our intent is to also open this studio on the web to listeners world wide, including our Spirit of the Suwannee guests,” Cornett said. “Streaming live on the world wide web has the potential to reach hundreds of thousands of guests who can listen to the activities in the Park in real time as they happen, staying in touch with the Suwannee River Valley and encouraging future visits to the Park and local community.”

Bob and Jean Cornett, who started the SOSMP 25 years ago, have hosted Kentucky’s oldest bluegrass festival, the Festival of the Bluegrass in Lexington, KY, for the past 36 years. Jean has brought many famous bluegrass artists to the SOSMP. She has also helped develop the Suwannee Spirit Kids Music Camp, held four times a year at the SOSMP, to interest kids age 4-17 in learning the instruments of bluegrass.

James Cornett SOSMP President & CEO

Miller began his bluegrass show at Lake City’s Power Country 102.1 as the doctor of bluegrass. A week after completing nine years there, Miller began his 10th year of the program at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park, his first love. “When Bob and Jean (Cornett, SOSMP founders) came in the gate, I was right behind them as the UPS man! I‘ve been coming here ever since!” Miller said. Miller is no longer the UPS man, but he’s produced many bluegrass shows at the SOSMP headlined by national artists and is also part of the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) where he is stage manager for artists during its annual convention and fan event. “Every year we have fan fest for three days. I’m lucky enough to be the stage manager and get to meet everyone who performs. I usually take a cooler full of Nettles’ Sausage (from Lake City, Fla) with me,” Miller notes with a sly smile. “Mike Snider said he likes to see me but would rather see the sausage!” Miller quipped.

Miller is an accomplished banjo picker who was invited in 2003 to play on the Grand Ole Opry. “I felt like a jackass at the Kentucky Derby, but I enjoyed it!” he said, giving that laugh thousands of bluegrass fans are very familiar with from his bluegrass show. He’s also entertained former US President Jimmy Carter and his family at one of President Carter’s family reunions.

SOSMP Radio studio's first radio host Don Miller works the phones 8-9-10 while broadcasting his bluegrass show in Arts & Crafts Village of the SOSMP
SOSMP Radio studio's first radio host Don Miller works the phones 8-9-10 while broadcasting his bluegrass show in Arts & Crafts Village of the SOSMP

Miller’s passion for music led him to purchase just about every kind of instrument you can imagine. He plans to have occasional jam sessions during the radio show in the future that is sure to be a hoot! You never know who might just stop by to play live on a Sunday afternoon at Florida’s premier camping and music park! Come out and get your cameras ready!

Broadcasting from 5 – 7 p.m. every Sunday afternoon from a quaint, rustic little studio in the Arts and Crafts Village, “Doctor” Don Miller will bring his rib-tickling brand of humor to the station along with the old-tyme bluegrass music made famous by the late Bill Monroe and the Bluegrass Boys. Monroe and his group entertained thousands of fans at the SOSMP just before Monroe’s death Sept. 9, 1996. Monroe is credited with inventing the music we know today as bluegrass when he took old-tyme Appalachian music, added blues and gospel and invented a radical new sound in the 1930s-40s vastly different from anything ever heard before. Many of the great musicians who played with Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys over Monroe’s 60 plus years in the business such as Chubby Wise, Vassar Clements, Peter Rowan and others have also entertained at the beautiful SOSMP. Other entertainers include Alison Krauss, Ricky Skaggs, The Seldom Scene, IIIrd Tyme Out, Mountain Heart, Ralph Stanley and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Jim and Jesse McReynolds, Jerry Douglas, Valerie Smith, Chubby Wise and many, many more. Additionally Beth and Randy Judy have brought numerous bluegrass artists to the Park as well, including Doc Watson, Bela Fleck, Tony Rice, Jim Lauderdale and many, many others. Peter Rowan will be among those playing at the upcoming Magnolia Fest at the SOSMP Oct. 21-24 produced and hosted by Beth and Randy Judy.

Now, with the advent of the new radio studio, Miller will broadcast the often haunting combined music of the mandolin, fiddle, guitar, bass and banjo on the very ground where the most famous bluegrass, country, jazz, Americana/Roots, rock ‘n roll and other musical greats have entertained and left their musical footprints forever embedded in the hearts and minds of thousands of fans. It’s possible if you listen real carefully, you might just hear Bill Monroe’s “high, lonesome sound” wafting through the big oaks on the banks of the famous Suwannee River during your next visit to the SOSMP.

If you would like to learn more about the SOSMP, the new radio studio or would like to make reservations for a few days to kick back and enjoy life again, just give us a call at 386-364-1683, go to the website at www.musicliveshere.com

or email us at spirit@musicliveshere.com. There’s plenty to do including canoeing, horseback riding, golf cart rental, mini and disc golf, checking out the Arts and Crafts Village, The Store of the Village, listening to live music in the Music Hall and at our many festivals, hiking, bicycle riding and enjoying delicious food from our SOS Café and Restaurant. And while you are here, why not sit a spell on a Sunday afternoon and listen and watch Don Miller broadcast his bluegrass show from the SOSMP! Ya’ll come see us now, you hear!

Author: Losillë
Mother, wife and kinda old.

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