Seafood festival returns

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Ottice Amison to reign as King Retsyo

 

This past Sunday, country singer Drew Parker and his wife Mallory took their 19-month-old daughter out trick-or-treating back in Nashville.

“My wife got very creative, she got her little wagon and made it look like a bathtub,” said Parker. “She added bubbles and made it into a “bubble bath and spa day.”

Parker had dressed up onstage as a sheriff’s deputy at his concert Saturday night in Sunrise, the last weekend on tour with Luke Combs. But it was back home with his family on Halloween where Parker’s costumed heart lay.

“You want something to change your life, go have a kid,” said the 30-year-old singer-songwriter in a telephone interview Monday. “Being everything I want to be as a husband, being able to provide for my family, that’s what I’m changing into now.”

Parker will be the headliner Saturday evening at the Florida Seafood Festival in Apalachicola, as helps the state’s oldest maritime festival bounce back after being shut down for the coronavirus last year, a first for the 58th annual affair.

He’ll be bringing his four-piece band, together with a drummer, guitar and bass, to the Battery Park stage at 8:30 p.m., part of a short headlining tour he’s doing in Alabama and Mississippi while he prepares to go on the road opening for Jaeson Rodgers’ “Cold Beer Calling My Name" tour.

“We’ve been putting in a lot of hard work,” Parker said.

Opening for him at 6:30 p.m. will be EMI Records Nashville’s Kylie Morgan, performing a 90-minute set. And those two top performers will follow an appearance by Franklin County’s own homegrown Ashley Carroll, who now performs as the leader of the Ashley Morgan Band. She’ll take the stage for a one-hour set beginning at about 5 p.m., and deliver a performance that may remind locals of the tiny Brown Elementary School singer who once belted out the National Anthem at Veterans Day shows, and who now, together with her bandmate and fiancé, bass player Adam Carswell, is rocking the music scene in and around where they live in Montgomery, Alabama.

The only charge for this robust entertainment will be the $5 admission fee that’s charged everyone over age 12 on Saturday.

On Friday, the festival admission is free, with the traditional Blessing of the Fleet at 4 p.m. at Riverfront Park setting the stage for a wholesome homecoming weekend. Miss Florida Seafood Jadyn Luberto will be joined at opening ceremonies by King Retsyo. Reprising in the role as king from the last time he served in 2011, Apalachicola seafood dealer Ottice Amison will be alongside the queen.

Friday afternoon is traditionally the festival’s time slot for Christian musical entertainment. This will culminate at 8:30 p.m. with Dante Bowe taking the stage as headliner.

Saturday, Nov. 6 will begin bright and early with 7 a.m. registration for the 5K Redfish Run at the front steps of the Gibson Inn. The runners take off at 8 a.m.

Gates open at 10 a.m., the same time the parade starts down US 98. The afternoon will feature Blue Crab Races, and the Oyster Shucking contest, featuring a return by the 2019 winner, Honor Allen, from Hunt’s Oyster Bar in Panama City, and Oyster Eating contest. (See adjacent schedule).

Saturday night is sure to offer a night of top-notch entertainment, as Parker shares the sort of sound that is reminiscent of the 90s country music that he grew up with. His entertainment roots run deep in gospel music, which he used to travel around as a kid singing.

“Gospel and country music have a lot in common, they’re both telling a message,” he said. “They go hand in hand.”

Educated as an X-ray technician, Parker moved from pizza and beer joints near his hometown, to a publishing deal he signed four years ago, with RiverHouse/ WarnerChappell.

He is a co-writer on Luke Combs’ debut platinum record “This Ones For You,” and Jake Owen’s single “Homemade” which became a #1 last year. Songs like “1,2 Many,” (featuring Brooks & Dunn), “Forever After All,” “Nothing Like You” and “Lonely One” helped define the historic start to Combs’ career.

Parker released a stand-alone single in 2016 (“Slow Down Small Town”), and a four-song collection followed in 2018, and then in 2020, he released “While You’re Gone,” an extended play recording

“You’ll hear songs that I‘ve written, that I’ve recorded,” he said. “And we’ll throw in cover singles of ‘90s country music.

“It’s a very high energy show and you’ll definitely have  a good time,” Parker said. “You’ll forget about all the craziness in the world. It’s at least 75 minutes that’s worth coming to.”

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