Songwriter Bios


Al Scortino

One of Florida's best and most respected singer-songwriters, Al is a multi-instrumentalist and outstanding performer. He has been a multiple Will McLean Festival award winner for his song crafting, and several time finalist in the South Florida Folk Festivals National Song Writing competition. Al has also been a finalist at the Susquehanna Music and Arts Festival in Abingdon, MD and the Flat Rock Music Festival in Flat Rock, NC. Al plays acoustic and electric guitars, Hawaiian and lap steel guitar, and dobro. Prior to forming the very popular Florida folk group, The Ashley Gang, Al released two solo recordings. His songs tell stories about simple folk and places, from the local fisherman making a trip down the River Road to a band of notorious early twentieth century Florida outlaws, who were gunned down in Sebastian, called the Ashley Gang! Solo Discs: Mr. Singer 1995, The Promised Land 1998; Ashley Gang Discs: Doing time 2000, East Bound train, 2005, A Girl in Oklahoma 2009.


Austin Truax


Austin moved to Florida in 2010, to get out of the cold winters. Austin started the band Silvertip in Montana, and played private parties and special events. About a year after he formed the band he started to write songs after receiving an invitation to play at a music festival. Because of this, he was invited to play at bigger festivals around the country, bars, fundraisers, parties, and participate in songwriting contests. Austin has played at several Florida venues and festivals. His songs are written in the Traditional Country Style. He is easily recognized (and heard) by his boots with spurs. www.reverbnation.com/austintruax

Bill & Eli Perras

Bill and Eli are performers of original, inspired, acoustic folk & blues from DeLand, FL. The many inspired lyrics given to and interpreted by Eli, combined with Bill's bluesy finger-style guitar playing create a very uniquely modern take on true Americana music in its purest form. Receiving much recognition for their tightly woven musical creativity, they humbly remain true to their personal values. They speak out with strong heartfelt lyrics accompanied by soulful genuine pentatonic rhythms against social injustices, corporate greed, and daily follies in everyday life. They can grip your heart, search your soul, change a mindset, or softly strike a funny bone, all the while leaving the audience with a sentiment for the common good we desire in all mankind. Bill & Eli have opened or shared the stage with Bill Staines, Michael Smith, John Gorka, Jack Williams, Steve Gillette & Cindy Mangsen, Michael Johnathon, Paul Geremia, Anne Feeney, Rod MacDonald, Scott Ainslie, Small Potatoes, Emma's Revolution and many more nationally recognized entertainers. They are regulars at many Florida folk music venues and festivals and frequently travel beyond the Sunshine State sharing their music. For more information on Bill & Eli, go to www.bluesgotus.com.


Bill Whitacre


William L. Whitacre is an entertainment lawyer, film producer and singer/songwriter based in Central Florida with a worldwide practice. He has represented and produced films in Hong Kong, Vancouver, Los Angeles, and at Disney/MGM Studios and Universal Studios, Florida.  Bill has been performing music for over 40 years.  His music performance credits include the MerleFest BMI Stage and the MerleFest Coffeehouse Songwriter Lounge, Cline’s Opry in Weston, MO, Florida Old Time Music Festival, Will McLean Festival, Steve Kaufman’s Acoustic Kamps, the Nashville Songwriter’s Festival, the Idle Hour Tavern on Music Row in Nashville, the Old Fort, NC Mountain Music Stage, and many other festivals and venues throughout the US and internationally. Bill is also the President of Wail and Moan Music Company, which has both ASCAP and BMI publishing divisions. http://www.showbizlaw.net


Bob Rafkin


Bob Rafkin is a premier acoustic guitarist, songwriter and performer.  His roots go back to the late sixty’s music scenes of New York’s Greenwich Village, San Francisco and Los Angeles.  He performed as a backup guitarist for many artists including; Joni Mitchell, Arlo Guthrie, Phil Ochs, The Everly Brothers, Tim Buckley and Eric Andersen.  His song Lazy Waters was recorded by the Byrds.  On stage, as a solo performer, Rafkin’s powerful guitar playing weaves magically through his poignant lyrical vocals.  His delivery is spontaneous and strong. Most recently, Bob opened for Leon Russell.  Bob has released ten CD’s including his latest, Twenty Eleven.


Carolyn Dunn and Paul Dunn


Mother and son teamed up to write “One Paycheck Away”. Carolyn has been performing at festivals, clubs, weddings and jams since 1973. She started out in Rochester, NY, lived in Jericho, VT, and moved to Sarasota, FL in 2004. She is very active in the Florida Folk scene, and plays bass and sings with several groups, including The Dunn Deal. Paul moved to Fort Myers, FL in 2005. He has been a performer for many years, mostly playing and singing blues, but open to many genres.  He currently teaches guitar in the Fort Myers School District. www.reverbnation.com/carolyndunn



Ellen Bukstel


Hailed by Pop Star Michael Bolton as “An Amazing Artist And Spirit,” Ellen Bukstel challenges her listeners to laugh, dig deep and embrace the wild emotional rollercoaster we call life with every daring turn of phrase...a rare, bold, real deal maverick, a multi-faceted break the mold original who lays her emotions bare, puts her passions on the line and, without fear, makes the world perk up and pay attention with straight talking, heart on her sleeve, from her soul to yours lyrics.. From hilariously funny to moving compositions of love, remembrance, and social awareness, her songs always hit home. A veteran to the stage since childhood, she has been recognized with more than 40 music and video awards and acknowledgements since 2002. In addition she has been recognized with 12 international fundraising awards for her music videos that collectively have helped to raise close to a hundred million dollars for community causes such as Housing the Homeless and Assisting Victims of Domestic Violence and Human Rights. www.ellenbukstel.com


Gail Carson


Gail is an Award Winning, ASCAP, multi genre singer/songwriter. She writes songs in a variety of styles, spanning Folk, Country, Roots, Americana,  Easy Listening, and a little bit of Rock and Roll. She is currently very busy writing and recording music for her growing catalog of songs, and playing live at various performance venues and folk festivals in Florida. You can hear more of Gail Carson's music here: www.reverbnation.com/gailcarson. Gail is also a Florida Folk Festival Photographer and you can see her photography here:  www.gailcarson.shutterfly.com,

·         2012 2nd place winner "Gamble Rogers Song Contest" with the song "Oklawaha Mayor"

·         2004 Love Song Of The Year "20 Years Of Love" with the Songwriters Showcases Of America

·         2012 February Artist Of The Month - Mellow Melodies

·         2012 April Artist of the Week - CMG Radio

·         Currently 3 songs rising on the CMG Charts


Ishmael Katz


Ishmael was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts,the town known as the setting for Moby Dick. In the mid 70’s, while living in Vancouver, British Columbia he began using Ishmael as a stage name and later had his name legally changed. He began playing guitar and writing songs during his first period in Sarasota, Florida from 1963 to 1967. His early songs were often about the equality of all people and political in nature. These are themes that continue to be important to him. He spent several years practicing Zen Buddhism in Rochester, NY and performing for the Sangha there. When he moved to Toronto in 1972 he began playing gigs and continued playing professionally after moving to Vancouver, BC. In Vancouver he was part of the duo, Katz and Robbins. They appeared on CBC National Radio and TV as well as being regulars on "The Vancouver Show" where they performed political satire often written the day before. After moving back to Sarasota in 1979, he continues to write and perform originals at many venues.


James Hawkins


James is a singer/songwriter from Venice, FL. His songs have been recorded by several Florida folk artists, and he has performed at many Florida folk festivals. He is also a DJ on The Saturday Folk Show at WSLR 96.5 LPFM. James performs as a soloist, as a duo with David Brain on Dobro, and with Turn Back Time presenting history programs using folk music as schools in Sarasota County.


Jeff Friberg


Jeff is a Wisconsin native living in Florida for the past 25 years.  As a singer/songwriter/guitarist, he currently performs solo and with a group of talented musicians known as The M.T. Pawketts Revue. He formerly led the folk group Common Ground.  Jeff’s song, “'Common Ground” is also on the Friends of Florida Folk sampler CD titled “This Is America.”


Jenn Weidley


Jenn has been playing music most of her life and started writing songs at the young age of 15. Having written several hundred songs, she performs in Florida and the Southeast, playing pubs and festivals, weddings and wakes, coffee houses and concerts, but is happiest sharing music with friends around campfires. She has been the lead vocal in several bands, including JENRIC with her late husband Rick Weidley, and BARDIC ROSE, a Celtic Folk Band based in Central Florida. She also currently performs with the Traditional Irish Music Session Band BANISHED MISFORTUNE, and as part of a duo called HARD TO PORT with fellow songwriter (and partner) Ron Smykay.
A multi-instrumentalist, Jenn plays guitar, fiddle, mandolin, Irish whistle, recorders, Celtic harp and piano. She also is the owner of Green Fiddle Studios, a recording studio that caters to the acoustic musician in the Central Florida area. www.jennweidleymusic.com.


John French


Although new to the Florida music scene, John French has spent more than 35 years as a creative musician. At the age of 15 he taught himself to play the guitar and started writing original material. During these early years his family moved around the country ironically spending time in some of the most unique cultural music spots in the nation such as southwest Texas, southern Louisiana, and Tennessee. By the age of 19 John was playing in original rock bands and collaborating with other writers attempting to market their own brand of music. One such collaboration resulted in a co-written song appearing on the debut CD release of a Knoxville band co-produced by Steve Earle in 1995. In John’s recently released CD “All Roads” he has certainly found his niche in music as a singer/songwriter, recognized for his unique style of music combining Americana, bluegrass, folk and country. John now resides in Central Florida and performs with his talented band of musicians known as “The French Connection”. www.johnfrenchsongs.com


Ken Skeens


Ken Skeens is a self-taught singer/songwriter who began writing in the middle 1960’s.  His songs are a reflection of his Appalachian roots and his observations of our human journey.  Ken’s entries in the Will McLean “Best Florida Song Contest” won first, second and third place is 1992 and his song “An Empty Chair” won the “I Remember Gamble (Rogers)” competition in 2005.  Ken and his wife, Leigh Goldsmith, have been fixtures of the Florida folk music scene for many years.


Larry Mangum


Jacksonville, FL singer/songwriter LARRY MANGUM has nearly 3000 performances over 4 decades as a folk, rock, country and Americana artist. Larry's Mom, Kate, was Randy Travis' guitar teacher and Uncle Homer was a member of the legendary WBT Briarhoppers! A Floridian since 1970, known for his butter smooth voice, Larry has released 7 albums of original music and 2 live albums since 1980. An award winning songwriter, Larry writes from a keen sense of observation and experience capturing the moments that reveal the human truths that bind us all together. An evening of Larry’s songs is an emotional roller coaster touching the heart, the mind and the soul that stays with the listener long after the performance.
He is also host and co-founder of THE SONGWRITERS’ CIRCLE in Jacksonville-a monthly program featuring many of the best regional and national touring acts since 2006 and charter member of the North Florida Folk Network. www.reverbnation.com/larrymangum



Mary Beth Campbell


Beth Campbell is a Central Florida Poet/Lyricist/Songwriter. She has won awards for her poetry and songwriting, is published in each genre and has composed music and song arrangements for most of the works she writes.  She performs her original songs at major Music Festivals and venues throughout Florida, as well as venues in North Carolina.  In the ‘90’s, she had a co-written song performed in live Christmas presentations at Universal Studios, Florida, and in 2005 tied for First Place as “Best Newcomer to the Will McLean Music Festival.” In addition, she has two movie credits for background songs used in an independent film. Her songs are a passionate, spirited blend of Folk, Bluegrass, Country and Americana.  She also writes songs specifically about Florida.  She currently performs as “Mary Beth and Friends” with her husband Chris Campbell on Stand-up Bass and Harmonica, Sean Curran on Fiddle, and Diane Mayer, background vocals and rhythm.  Occasionally, other guest performers also perform with the Group. 


Mindy Simmons


Mindy Simmons has been writing songs since the late 70’s and has 11 full length CD’s to her credit. From her folk roots to country, blues and jazz, Mindy performs and writes in all styles eloquently. “Somebody’s Baby” came about when she was reflecting on her reaction to a homeless man walking down a major road in her town. Wondering how someone comes to be homeless and desperate, Mindy reflects that no matter where someone is on their journey in life…we are all “Somebody’s Baby”. See more about Mindy on the web at: www.mindysimmons.com


Ron Smykay


Ron got his first guitar as a high school graduation present from Elderly Instruments in East Lansing, near his home town, and had no clue what good fortune he had to have that store nearby.  It took about 20 years to get past three chords and really figure out that tuning thing.  But progress has picked up mightily since he started up with the Central Florida Folk Community.  Five chords, two more guitars, a banjo and an electronic tuner, Ron is active in the Daytona area Irish band Banished Misfortune and with Jenn Weidley in Oviedo’s own duo Hard to Port.Extra Bagels” is partially inspired by real events. Bagels are provided on Friday; however, considerable liberties with the facts were taken for artistic effect. Having been on both sides of that long walk it affects the appetite either way.


Roy Schneider


Roy Schneider is a joyful player of most things stringed, and his joy is infectious. Blues Matters! magazine describes his music as "a beguiling and tasty stew of blues, country, folk, and Americana." Schneider has twice been a finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival's Grassy Hill New Folk Competition and has recently released his fourth studio album. He frequently tours with his wife and musical partner, Kim Mayfield.


Sean Curran


Apart from discovering the Polar Ice Cap, and defeating the Hessians in the Boar War, Sean plays guitar and violin.  He was born young and played in local symphonies until discovering they had a conductor but no train.  He continued training at a local station until most of the tracks were laid down.  He quit playing the saxophone after hearing there was too much sax and violins on TV.  Eschewing written music because of too many slurs, he took a short rest and tried to stay out of treble.  Despite studying ear training, he still cannot wiggle them appreciably.  He was well read but then he put some lotion on.  He is against turning prose, but is not averse to poetry, just iambic thermometer.  He stanza posed to pretension but will cross that bridge when he comes to it.


Steve Humes

Steve wandered from his home town of San Antonio to Austin, then to other small towns in Texas, and on through the rural south. He learned at an early age to pick up stuff and make noise with it. First bar gig was age 16 singing in a country band. His first guitar was won in a pool game at the age of 14, but he didn't learn to play one until age 20 while on the road installing telephone systems in Wal-Marts and VA Hospitals. Eventually landing in Tampa after five and a half years working on a two year degree, he settled and learned many other instruments. Still paying off student loans to the School Of Hard Knocks, Steve embraces and writes with and about the raw emotion that forges his unique character. The Album Exit 32 is a collection of stories and thoughts of the people he knew, was, and might have been. steve@humes.com  www.pearlcourtrecords.com



Susan Foster Trewick and Kent Trewick


Susie played in several bands, most notably an all-Female Top 40/Reggae band in Jamaica called "PEP", and then "WOW". She also had a brief stint in a Tampa all-female Reggae band called "Lioness", and a multi-cultured Orlando band named "Melange". She also spent a while on the Orlando convention circuit, playing with various Island band ensembles. She decided to go solo in March of 1999, and has been playing open mics and various acoustic gigs ever since. She has written over 260 songs, and is currently performing about 80 of them live. Her Song "Computer Love" that she wrote with Co-writers Chelita Martinez and Kent Trewick (her husband) has been getting lots of good feedback from her audiences, (and even some airplay). It is a Reggae, and has a DJ named Mr Mystic adding his unique touch. "The Mambo Song" is a crowd pleaser that often gets audiences involved in a large conga line. The "Tissue Police" song, written with Lisa Firestone, and Kent, is another hilarious addition to her repertoire, based on a warning label on a tissue box. Susie's intention is to entertain and uplift her audiences, hopefully get them dancing, and have them leave in a happy mood. https://sites.google.com/site/susiecoolsongs/Home