A Well-kept Secret: ZenFest Continues to Delight in Plant City

If you’ve been interested in interplanetary travel but don’t really want to, you know, actually leave this planet, you should check out All World Acres in north Plant City (practically south Zephyrhills), a fascinating little community-conscious spiritual sanctuary. AWA offers camping and a wide variety of events, from Brigid’s Fire and Beltainia to healing and reiki workshops and adult weekends.

ZenFest is the only music festival on AWA’s calendar (although other festivals do feature some music). I stumbled onto ZenFest in 2015 almost by accident, had an amazing time (read review here), and went back for the 2016 edition (that review here).

This year’s ZenFest takes place February 17-19, with music beginning Friday at 6 PM, running all day Saturday and then Sunday until 6 PM. A word about the festival from its organizer, Allison Menendez:

As some of you already know, ZenFest is a great time and a very relaxing and artistic event. For those of you who don’t know… come find out. ZenFest specifically showcases local talent in music, live art, etc. ZenFest is also a charity event to help keep the beautiful camp ground at All World Acres up and running for more events throughout the year. All performers and workers do this event out of kindness and love for their community, so make sure to tip them or buy their merch to support them or at least help ’em out with gas money. It’s one big family of people giving to each other :)

This is going to be a great year! Make sure to pre-register to save money and ensure we can plan well for camping and food.

With all that in mind, let’s talk about the music.

Friday night begins with Treblehawk Brian at 6 during dinner. After that, Christina Ungstad will perform for an hour (as US) before hosting open mic, which was very interesting last year. A drum circle at midnight will close the evening’s program.

Saturday begins early with a chakra dance workshop and crystal singing bowl meditation. The music program continues after lunch, beginning with two singer-songwriters back to back, Aaron Field and Kayla Korpics. The Vivid Moxie throws in some alternative punk-funk, or funk-punk. Either way. And Whiskey Sharts? Well…

We dig Ragged Old Souls, who performed last year at ZenFest, but frankly they had me at “funky psychoactive.” More returners come in the form of Orlando’s Tears of a Tyrant, who claim to play Southern rock, but that barely begins to describe their range. Vocalist Danielle Dart fronts this power trio. Somatic covers a ton of bases with their sound.

The next three bands were also at 2016, beginning with The Reality. This amazing quartet knocked everybody out last year and have since come on like gangbusters. Their debut album Rhetoric was killer (read that review here), and they are working on number two. Hear their latest single on this YouTube video.

This will be at least the third year for Troy Youngblood and the Soul Fish, a superb blues and rock band featuring Troy’s beautiful big tenor (almost baritone?), a dynamic band, and Chris Brown back in the fold on bass. “Molly’s Door,” anyone?

The final band slot goes to the band which has played every ZenFest. That would be shoeless soul, the quartet purporting to deliver “Prozac pop.” FACT: this band can do almost anything, and they do it so well. They are René Schlegel, guitar and vocals; Mike Ratza, tenor sax; Sladjan Vidic, bass; and Dave Gerulat, drums.

After that, The Olav & Sadie Show precedes the Saturday drum circle.

Josh We Know, the excellent singer-songwriter who also plays great covers and travels with Stompy, hosts Qi Gong in the morning, followed by chanting and introduction to Bhakti-Yoga with Visanti Dasi and then Guided by Spirit, led by Dru Ann Welch.

At noon, Frankie Raye returns after a great ZenFest debut last year, which featured fine vocals and guitar, great stage presence, solid original songs and “the best — by far —version of ‘No Diggity I have ever heard.” Josh We know plays a set of his music and unusual covers, followed by Al. Just Al. He was known by another name, but you’ll recognize him as the keyboard and harmonica player with Troy Youngblood and the Soulfish. His magnificent baritone and dry wit are always most entertaining.

Frankie Raye

The afternoon continues with rapper Introvert, who also performed last year, then acoustic rock from trio American Song Box, and finally Allison Wonderland and Friends. Since there are several musicians with that name (Texas, Miami), I inquired about which one this was. To which Allison Melendez said, “me,” laughing. That will be a blast!


  3 PM  Gates Open for Guests
  6 PM  TrebleHawk Brian
  7 PM  US
  8 PM  Open Mic Hosted by Christina Ungstad
12 AM  Drum Circle


10 AM  Chakra Dance – Norma Mora
11 AM  Crystal Singing Bowl Meditation – Dru Ann Welch
12 noon  Lunch
  1 PM  Aaron Field
  2 PM  Kayla Korpics
  3 PM  The Vivid Moxie
  4 PM  Whiskey Sharts
  5 PM  Ragged Old Souls
  6 PM  Tears of a Tyrant
  7 PM  Somatic
  8 PM  The Reality
  9 PM  Troy Youngblood and the Soulfish
10 PM  Shoeless Soul
11 PM  The Olav & Sadie Show
12 noon  Drum Circle


  9 PM  Qi Gong – Josh We Know
10 AM  Chanting and Introduction to Bhakti-Yoga – Visanti Dasi
11 AM  Guided by Spirit – Dru Ann Welch
12 noon  Frankie Raye
  1 PM  Josh We Know
  2 PM  Al (formerly Thee Eloquent Barbarian)
  3 PM  Introvert
  4 PM  American Song Box
  5 PM  Allison Wonderland & Friends

Last year, I said, “Once again, a small music festival exceeded my expectations — by a lot. Already looking forward to 2017!”

Also, I hear the cook there is pretty amazing.

For more fest info:
Official webpage




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