This years festival circuit found woovillians in the wild at our normal stops along the bluegrass trail. The numbers were down a bit from previous years. I guess sometimes life just gets in the way of having fun and to that I say..."BUMMER!" Anyway, we started our summer out with the Festival of The Bluegrass, in Lexington, KY., (see below) and from there we went on a weekend roadtrip to help close down Lynagh's Music Hall, in Lexington. Not bluegrass and definitely not an outdoor festival, but we have seen lots of bluegrass there in the past. On this hot July night, Lynagh's would close their doors forever, and fittingly it was the Metropolitan Blues Allstars there to send it off. The Met's had become a mainstay at Lynagh's, having played there off and on for the last 25 years. Through the years my friends and myself have seen all kinds of great music there, blues, bluegrass, folk, rock, alternative; Lynagh's had it all.
My first visit into this music hall was over 30 years ago when it was then known as The Library. A band that I was a roadie and sound guy for would open up for then rockers, Exile, who at the time was the hottest group around. I have alot of fond memories in this hall and now with the end of and era, it will be sorely missed.
Next stop out on the trail would be the Master's Musicians Festival in Somerset, Ky. Again, not much bluegrass, but some favorites nonetheless. Robert Earl Keen, Junior Brown, Zoe Speaks, and Jonell Mosser made for a great day of beautiful music. One of the highlights of this festival is camping and canoeing on the Rockcastle River at Bee Rock Campground, a state run facility some 20 miles away. It's a real peaceful getaway that I look forward to every year.
From there I would set my sights north to Columbus, Ohio and the M.A.C.C Festival (formerly The Bluegrass Classic). This year I was the lone hillbilly among the Ohisian's but that's okay, they treat me kindly. M.A.C.C. is still one of my favorite stops out on the bluegrass trail and it's always great getting together with my comrades from Wooville-North.
Following M.A.C.C., we made a day trip into the Riverbend Music Center, in Cincinnati, for JamGrass, a day long event with David Grisman, Tony Rice and Peter Rowan, John Cowan Band, Sam Bush Band and more. This was not one of my finest hours. I had too much to drink, too little to eat and the temperature was over 100 degrees. I found myself passed out inside and outside of the men's restroom for nearly an hour before making it back to our seating area. I missed Sam Bush and David Griman's sets all together. But we did have a blast down by the river before the show, especially when Lee entered his Caravan in the horse race at River Downs.
It's a long story, but one I'd be glad to share if you catch me out on the trail.
Our next stop would also be in the buckeye state, but a little closer to home. The Brown County Bluegrass Festival, in Georgetown, Ohio, is only 25 minutes from my home and normally I would just go in on Saturday and come back home after the show. This year I decided to camp for the duration and I'm sure glad I did. Living so close, I decided to take my camper in on Monday and secure a good campsite, thinking I could talk more woovillians into showing up. Well just my family made the trip, but no matter, we had a real good time and I'm really looking forward to doing the same again next year.
The lineup was excellent with Jimmy Martin, Dale Ann Bradley, James King, Ernie Thacker, The Chapman's, 1949, Lewis Family and more. I can't say enough about this festival. Good lineup, well run, clean, easy (I like easy), plenty of great campground pickin'. I was able to hookup with some excellent pickers on Saturday night and made the trip even that much more enjoyable. Come on Wooville, put this one on your schedule for next year. You'll be glad you did.
Now heading into September, next up was that big show on the hill, The Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival, in Morehead, KY. This year was not Poppy Mountain's finest hour. First of all, we setup camp on Labor Day weekend which gave us three weekends of camping before the festival even started. Much to our dismay, Poppy Mountain gave away our favorite campsite, even after I called a week ahead of time and inquired as to what was the earliest we could come into the park. Seems the powers that be are getting real good at talking out of both sides of their mouth. And this years lineup was not nearly as good as years past and to top it all off, headliner Marty Stuart brought his country act to the largest traditional bluegrass festival in the world. What was that all about? I've heard Marty's bluegrass show and it's great stuff. Come on Marty, what were you thinking? And all those ATV's.....just too many! I was so dismayed by the turn of events that I wrote a song, entitled "The Poppy Mountain Boycott". It was a big hit among the digruntled. But some good did come out of Poppy Mountain. Labor Day weekend, a friend (and dobro picker) took me into his camper and showed me some stuff on his new lap steel. I really started to get the fever. I had always wanted to give the dobro a try, but just never made the commitment, but here I had this guy willing to coach me along. I came home after Labor Day and set out to find me a dobro. I found what I wanted and mail ordered it, but I was going to have to wait for what turned out to be 3 weeks before it would arrive. In the meantime, each weekend I would travel back to Poppy Mountain and soak up all I could from my friend while I had the chance, and he was more than willing to show me all that he could to help give me a jump start. He even gave me my first set of finger picks and I'll never forget that. And it was pretty cool being able to practice on a vintage dobro while I awaited the arrival of my own instrument. It was still a week after Poppy Mountain before mine arrived, but at least I was given the tools to get started when it did. Now I need to put in the hours and see what develops. My friend says I'm a natural, but I know it will take time and practice to make it happen...so we'll see. Poppy Mountain next year? We'll see....but probably not unless there are some changes made. Wooville may seek out a new journey next year to feed our bluegrass jones.
The long hot summer has now come to a close as we move indoors for our musical enjoyment. The Ripley Bluegrass Series starts October 5th with Ernie Thacker and Route 23 and IBMA FanFest is right around the corner. Hope to see y'all out on the bluegrass trail. N.H.
Festival of The Bluegrass 2002
Kentucky Horse Park
June 5-9, 2002
I may be going to hell in a bucket, babe,
but at least I'm enjoying the ride.....
.............John Perry Barlow
Once again we have survived another Wooville road trip as we enjoyed a weeks stay under the pines. Many old friends returned, along with several new souls who survived their rite of passage into the World of Woo.
This year I arrived on Sunday to setup camp only to encounter squatters trying to claim Wooville land as their own. Oh No! This was not going to be! Had I not arrived a day early this year, Wooville would have been forced off their land, much like the redman, and we weren't going to no stinkin' reservation. Fair warning to all....if you invade our land, bring plenty of beer, 'cause we're moving right in among you. What's for breakfast? Wooville staked out our home in the pines the first year back at The Horse Park and we ain't gonna give it up without a fight. Afterall, we are armed with banjos.
Lots of fine pickin' in Wooville this year with our friends the Anderson County Connection holding down house band duties. It sure felt good having extra bass players in camp this year (count 'em 4)...it allowed for tag team bass pickin'. Maybe that ought to be a medal sport in the next Summer Olympics.
KET dropped in on Wooville at supper time with camera in tow and shot some footage for Jubilee. I'm not sure if they can use any of the footage for primetime viewing...but they did get a good shot of our famous ribs about to come off the grill. Yum Yum!!!!! Look for the Wooville Recipe Page coming soon.
They tell me the mainstage shows sure were good this year...but I really didn't venture out from the pines too often so I missed out on most of it. They say I'm becoming quite a recluse...but I was having way to much fun in Wooville to want to leave. I did venture out for a couple of sets on Saturday afternoon though, and gathered up a crowd to support our friends, Anderson County Connection and The Kentucky Clodhoppers with Wooville friend, Mary Yeomens, on Friday evening on the second stage. That was alot of fun and as much a part of the festival experience as anything else.
Looking forward to the next Wooville road trips which will be the Masters Musicians Festival in Somerset, KY, July 19-20, and on to Columbus, Ohio, the following weekend for M.A.C.C. and the gathering of the Wooville-North chapter. YeeHaw!!!
Hope to see ya out on the festival trail!NH FOB 2002 Pics
On My Way Back To The Old Home
It really felt right being back in Owensboro for bluegrass. Not much has really changed since...1996?..is that right. It was a rainy weekend in Owensboro.(does that sound familiar?) Carol and myself took a ride down to English Park and it was a total washout...it looked like Sunday morning at the close of FanFest on the river. Moonlite Barbeque was better than ever! The hotel was ok, but I think there is still some need for improvements. I understand 20 million in improvements have been made, but truthfully I didn't see much or notice that much that have change with the exception of no leaky roofs. But all and all I guess it was in pretty good repair. Personally, I wasn't at all impressed with the Showcase Lounge where they held the mainstage shows. The sound was excellent..but the seating was definately lacking due to too much reserved seating and those large booths that leave too many empty seats. The booths would seat 7 or 8 pretty easy, but there were many that would only have 2 people and you know...you don't always feel you can just horde in on strangers..even if it is Bluegrass. No matter...we made it work anyway...we always do. It's my understanding that if this shows continues, that a different location is being considered for the Mainstage. I believe if they would use the Flordia Room (former location of the trade show) and lay it out much like Milton Harkey does the Asheville Show, it would be a great improvement....
There was some pickin' in the hallways, but nothing like days past. This show will have to continue to grow every year to get back to where it was before we made our exit to Louisville. And it will need to grow to assure that the weekend is dedicated to bluegrass. Probably only half the folks there were actually there for bluegrass which would probably account for hotel security knockin' on our door about 1AM telling us to tone it down that they had had complaints. What is it Peter Rowan says "Come In, Come In, If Your Not The Cops".... We were told we would have to move outside our room into the hallway if we wanted to continue pickin' and even at that I had to talk 'em into it. It was sorta hard for them to tell us no when pickin' was going on all through the lobby. We were on the 3rd floor overlooking the lobby..so it wasn't like we were in a quite area. I guess there's strength in numbers and if we fill the hotel up with bluegrassers...who's gonna say we can't pick all night!!!! The last time we were in Owensboro I had just bought my bass and hadn't even learned to pick yet and wasn't nothing about to keep me and my wooville buddies from doing what comes natural when you have bluegrass coursing through your veins. Thanks to buddies Bill Brown who picks a fine 5 string and Barry Pritts from Wooville-South who's such a natural entertainer on guitar and vocals for a really fun time at The E!
All the music was GREAT! Jim and Jesse, Reno Tradition, J.D. Crowe with Aubrey Haynie for this trip, Blue Highway, The Whites, Rhonda, Del, Cordle....how can you miss with a lineup like this...you can't!
The museum was fun. I had visited the museum the 1st time around many years ago, and it's come a long way since then. The "festival" exhibit with the lawn chairs and the coolers was cool...but I kept catching woovillians searching through the coolers trying to find cold beer! Some great pictures throughout the museum to go along with all the neat memorabilia.
All and all a great trip back to Owensboro. The Wooville turnout was good with 10 of us making the trip with the fine folks from Wooville-North... Steve, Kathi, Kenneth and Amanda...Barry and Lisa from Wooville-South along with Bob and Andrea, Carol and myself from downtown Wooville. I wish we could have found the time to make the pilgrimage to Rosine, but that will give us reason enough to make the trip again next year...that and Moonlite BBQ...I could go for about a gallon of mutton and a jug of bbq sauce right about now. Owensboro Pics
Poppy Mountain 2001
September 11-15, 2001
For this bluegrass traveler, Poppy Mountain 2001 was the best ever. Great music, great friends, beautiful weather, delicious food and fine drink...all the elements that make the bluegrass festival experience so special. As a prelude to the festival, Linda and myself set up camp on Stagger Lane, on Friday of Labor Day weekend, some 2 weeks before the festival kick-off. And on Saturday we were joined by our new friends from Wooville's South Forty, Ron and LaNell. What a fun weekend! The Poppy Mountain potluck on Friday was a great way to bring the bluegrass family together with everyone bringing their specialty dishes and Poppy Mountain providing the main entree, drinks and entertainment. With the arrival of Ron and LaNell on Saturday, the fun was just beginning. On Saturday evening I was invited by some of my Poppy Mountain pickin' buddies to join them for some jammin' on the stage in the main barn. This was my stage debut and needless to say a dream come true. Afterwards and still riding high from pickin' on the stage, I made my way back to our Stagger Lane camp and joined Ron and LaNell for some fireside pickin'. Was this going to be a great Poppy Mountain or what! I know I'm gonna mark my calendar for a Poppy Mountain Labor Day next year for sure. Well for now, it's back home to finish out the work week before returning to Poppy the following weekend.
On this weekend, the jammin' was really starting to kick into high gear and on Saturday evening Stagger Lane was jam packed. Our neighbors were having a pig roast and huge jam and invited us to join in the fun and I did set in on a tune before being whisked away to the Showcase Stage by Poppy Tim for what turned out to be a nightmare of a performance...but I'm trying to forget that one. Afterwards and feeling let down by our Showcase Stage performance...I caught up with my regular pickin' buddies and was able to redeem myself tenfold. I walked away from that jam with sore fingers and a satisfied mind. There's a song in there somewhere, I'm sure. This weekend was just way too short and now it's back to work for a couple of days before returning for the duration. I can't wait!
Tuesday of festival week as we pulled into camp, Stagger Lane was full of excitement. Security was racing down the lane in droves. It seems an elderly couple had stopped their golf cart at the end of the lane and on top of the ridge next to the Floyd County camp and didn't realize the cart was in reverse and ended up at the bottom of a rather deep ravine....luckily bailing out just before impact. The lady suffered broken bones and a torn rotator cuff that required surgery and both were seriously shaken to say the least....but had they not bailed the outcome surely would have been much worse. The cart was totaled and couldn't even be spotted from the top of the ridge. All this excitement and Floyd County wasn't even in the house yet.
I approached the Poppy Mountain festival with a different mind set than I have in the past. No time to sit through the countless hours of mainstage entertainment as in the past, so I was going to carefully pick and choose some choice sets and then hang a little closer to camp for some pickin' and grinnin' with my friends. Worked out pretty good too. Early in the week I was able to catch several fine acts...some favorites were Shades of Tyme and IIIrd Tyme Out's Wednesday set. And on Thursday, Rhonda Vincent and The Rage was a must along with The Stranger's and Melvin Goins and Windy Mountain. A little more Melvin Goins and Strangers on Friday, plus a fun set with Valerie Smith on the Showcase Stage. Then it was back to camp for some fun pickin' with Wooville South friends Barry and Ron and some rovin' troubadours who happened by. Now we're having fun! On Saturday "Poppy" Mountain Heart was a must as was The Del McCoury Band, but I opted out of Ricky Skaggs for more campsite pickin'. Man...there was a day when I wouldn't miss Skaggs for anything...but sometimes priorities just change.....and did I mention that this was my best Poppy ever?
By Thursday our camp was starting to swell with our friends from Wooville North arriving early in the day and Carol and Drew coming in a little later and then Bob, Leo, The South Forty crew and the rest landing on the lane on Friday is was a Wooville Homecoming of magnificent proportions. Add our friends from Floyd and some rather weird strangers who happened by in the bewitching hours and 100 Stagger Lane was a hotbed of excitement. Did I mention this was my best Poppy ever?
See ya down the road.....Happy Poppy! NH Poppy Mountain 2001 Pics Page 1 Poppy Mountain 2001 Pics Page 2
Hoover Y Park
July 26-28, 2001
This was the second year since The Bluegrass Classic changed it's name and it's mission to the Musicians Against Childhood Cancer. The quality of the bluegrass acts that donate their services to such a worthy cause speaks volume as to the effect that Darrell Adkins and bluegrass music have as a world community. Many of these same acts have been part of Adkin's Productions since Darrell's days as the promoter of Frontier Ranch and have now stepped up to the plate and delivered for such a great cause, that being donating their time and talent to benefit St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, in Memphis, Tennessee. Kudos to all involved!
As for the festival itself, it's one of the best in the country, with 3 days of some of the hottest acts in the bluegrass world. Thursday's lineup alone was as good as most 3 day festivals around the country with Mountain Heart, Blue Highway, Nashville Bluegrass Band, Osborne Brothers, Lonesome River Band, Doyle Lawson and Northwest Territory. Now Beat That! Friday's lineup had Seldom Scene, James King, BlueRidge, more Lonesome River Band, Larry Stephenson, Tina Adair, and others with supergroup Longview closing out the evening. And Saturday had a full slate with J.D. Crowe and The New South, Lost and Found , Dave Peterson and 1946, Rambler's Choice, Carl Jackson-Jerry Salley-Larry Cordle, Continental Divide, Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time and much more. My favorite set had to be the Larry Cordle and LST set...with the stage lights down a single white light shown from the stage....a miners helmet worn by Cord as he recited the recitation Old Kentucky Miners and as the lights came up.... broke into Deep Mine Blues. More of them bluegrass memories! Also the Cordle set saw the return of Terry Eldridge on the mend from a serious auto accident as he made his way on stage with help of crutches to sing a couple of numbers with his bandmates. Rest assured Terry will return to full duties on the ol' doghouse soon.
A couple of things set Darrell Adkins shows apart from most other festivals, one being the extra long sets (usually near 1 1/2 hours). The other is the nightly all-star jams which are worth the price of admission alone. This year featured Bob and Sonny Osborne with Doyle Lawson and Dale Perry on Thursday. Friday had two such sets with Lou Reid, James King, Terry Baucom and Ricky Simpkins during the supper hour and the all-star group Longview closing the evening. And Saturday's closer featured J.D. Crowe, Carl Jackson, Aubrey Haynie and friends. I hated myself for missing that one, but ya know sometimes you just can't make it work...but never have I left an Adkin's show feeling I didn't get my fair share of great bluegrass and I'm already looking forward to next year. Hope to see y'all there. NH M.A.C.C. Festival Pics
Master's Musicians Festival
July 20-21, 2001
The Master's Musicians Festival held each July in Somerset, Kentucky is truly a celebration of music. The festival lineup offers something for everyone from blues to bluegrass to country to celtic and all points in between. Festival highlights this year included Nickel Creek, Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott Band, Goose Creek Symphony, The Laura Love Band, The Kettleheads, The Ennis Sisters, The Paperboys, Sofa King Deluxe, and much more. I guess Americana would best describe most of these groups...but to Woovillians, it's just damn good music! The majority of the acts we saw, you wouldn't find on a bluegrass festival venue, but for the less descriminating music lover, that's not a bad thing. It's more like the variety you would find at MerleFest, but on a much smaller scale. There is no on-sight camping available but the Wooville clan has found a quaint little State Park campground at Bee Rock on the Rockcastle River, some 20 miles away. Plenty of shade and fresh water, no showers, but the Rockcastle River offers a great spot to launch a canoe, take a dip, or wet a line. What a great way to spend a summer weekend.NH
Bluegrass Music a playin' in the park.......
Bluegrass Music pickin' way past dark.....John Hartford
The words of the late/great John Hartford have never rang more true than during the 2001 Festival of The Bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park, near Lexington. The Wooer's and the Woovette's (as our new friend LaNell has dubbed us) did our part to keep the tradition alive. The pickin' was plentiful, as was the food and spirits. Just another day in Wooville! The population of our Wooville camp grew leaps and bounds this year as we welcomed new friends into our fold. Our new friends on the South 40 were all pickers and helped raise the entertainment level to an all new high, so much so that nearly 75 people converged on our camp on Friday as the Bluegrass Music pickin' lasted WAY past dark. Also our friends from Wooville-North (whom we camp with at The Bluegrass Classic - M.A.C.C., in Columbus) made their first visit to the Festival of The Bluegrass. It didn't take long for them to realize why we have continued this tradition for nearly 20 years. They'll be back next year. Others joined our fold this year, and none were more revered than Mike, who showed the Woovillians the art of making a beer can turkey. Now that's gonna be a Wooville tradition..Oh Baby!
As usual, the mainstage entertainment was just what you would expect from a festival that is now in it's 28th year, Top Shelf! Thursday's are noted for bringing in acts making their 1st FOB visit and this year was no different. Ernie Thacker was a crowd favorite with a loyal following and deservingly so. The guy's got a wonderful voice and a great band. Jeanette Williams made her 1st visit to FOB and along with young mando wizard, Ashby Frank, won the hearts of many. Hopefully Bob and Jean will bring both of these acts back next year for a command performance.
Friday and Saturday saw the return of many festival favorites, Mountain Heart... IIIrd Tyme Out...J.D. Crowe and The New South (all of whom jammed on stage together for Friday's finale)...Seldom Scene...Dry Branch Fire Squad...Lewis Family...Lonesome River Band...Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standand Time just to name a few. As a footnote...Larry Cordle cleaned house the following week at the CMT Awards...winning 3 top awards. Go Cord ! .
Saturdays headliner was the Dan Tyminski Band who has acheived noterity for his part as the singing voice of George Clooney in The Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?. Fantastic set!
As Sunday's gospel set from Dry Branch Fire Squad filled the air, the Wooville camp closed the door on another wonderful FOB. Having made many new friends we said our goodbyes with promises to meet somewhere down the road on the festival trail. NH Festival of The Bluegrass Pics
Bluegrass First Class 2001
Asheville, North Carolina
February 23-25, 2001
Nestled in the bluegrass rich mountains of western North Carolina lies Asheville and home to Milton Harkey's annual Bluegrass First Class. A showcase that takes place in mid-February and features a lineup that consistently lives up to it's namesake and 2001 was no different. This years lineup consisted of a wealth of award winning bluegrass talent with IBMA and SPBGMA female vocalist of the year, Rhonda Vincent leading the way on Friday and IBMA male vocalist, Dudley Connell headlining with his band, The Seldom Scene on Saturday. Also on this years bill was IBMA and SPBGMA vocal group of the year, IIIrd Tyme Out which also included SPBGMA mandolin player winner, Wayne Benson. SPBGMA's female vocalist (traditional) winner, Dale Ann Bradley also was on hand as well as SPBGMA's male vocalist (traditional) winner, Don Rigsby with his group, The Lonesome River Band. As you can see, the award winning talent was bountiful, and add the talent of bluegrass legend, Charlie Waller and The Country Gentlemen, Mountain Heart, Lou Reid and Carolina, vocal duo, The Dunton Sisters and more and you have a show worthy of being called 1st Class.
The venue for Bluegrass First Class is the charming, Holiday Inn SunSpree Resort, with mainstage entertainment in the Grand Ballroom and second stage entertainment located in the picturesque Sunken Lobby, and as always, after hours jamming in the hallways, suites, and the hotel's bar, The Humidor Room.
Several of the acts there for the weekend are deep into recording new projects and previewed many new tunes to the delight of the crowd. Look for new recordings soon from Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek, Mountain Heart, and Rhonda Vincent. And just wait 'till you hear Rhonda's rendition of The Osborne Brothers classic, Bluegrass Express. YEEHAW!!!!
With such a wealth of talent on hand, the highlights were almost non-stop. Dale Ann Bradley and Coon Creek won the hearts of many with their first BFC appearance which came about after Harley Allen / Mike Lilly were forced to cancel. Lou Reid and Carolina as always was a crowd, as well as a Wooville favorite with young Ashby Frank tearing it up on mandolin, along with Jeff Davis on banjo and Kim Gardner on dobro. Also sitting in with Lou was Rhonda Vincent and The Rage bassman and Carolina alumni, Randy Barnes. And speaking of Barnes, his duet with Rhonda on Out Of Hand,
a song Rhonda recorded with her Dad, was pure beauty. And then there's The Rage's, Mike Cleveland, who puts on a fiddle clinic every time out..."and here's Mike to do Sally Goodin', the long version". WOW! There's those bookends for Mountain Heart, Jimmy VanCleve and Alan Purdue or how about the legendary Charlie Waller. What a voice! Seldom Scene's finale was one of their best in resent years and with a visit from those two wild and crazy guys, Soup Bean and Corn Bread, the crowd was delighted. And I'm just touching the surface of numerous highlights. There was IIIrd Tyme Out and The Lonesome River Band, it's a highlight just to have these folks in the building. And how about all those fine banjer pickers, Sammy Shelor, Tom Adams, Michael McLain, Marc Pruett, and so on. It's Bluegrass Heaven and can be found each February in the western Carolina mountains..so make plans to attend in 2002. You'll be glad you did.NH Bluegrass First Class Pics
Ripley Bluegrass Series
February 3rd, 2001
Once again, a great evening of bluegrass at the Ripley Bluegrass Series. This months outing featured the Carolina based BlueRidge along with regional act, Lonesome Night. Lonesome Night features the wonderful vocals and superb bass playing of Brenda Wolfersberger along with life and bluegrass partner, Brandt Smith on 5-string banjo / resonator guitar and tenor vocals, and with Ashley Messenger, vocals and guitar. Rounding out Lonesome Night are Kyle Jamison...mandolin and Gil Vincent..fiddle. Having seen most of these pickers before in different band configurations, they were no strangers, but with the newly formed Lonesome Night, these folks just seemed to click. Lonesome Night is strong vocally with Brenda, Ashley, and Brandt trading off on lead vocals while adding solid harmony vocals to each other. Brenda's ballad, Emily Ann, written about her and Brandt's daughter is a real standout and receives generous airplay in our local bluegrass radio market. Guitarist, Messenger also turns out some fine vocals performances, especially on Jim Croce's, Age a tune not unfamiliar to most bluegrass fans. The pickin' is rock solid as is evident when they cut loose with Monroe's Kentucky Mandolin Whew!!! Lonesome Night is another of the many fine bluegrass acts to have surfaced from the bluegrass rich Cincinnati area and with groups of this caliber, they help make a statement for Cincinnati being one of the hottest bluegrass markets in the country.
BlueRidge is one of the premiere bands on today's bluegrass circuit. With banjoman, Terry Baucom and mandolin picker, Alan Bibey comes a long list of bluegrass credentials, most notably stints with Doyle Lawson, The New Quicksilver and IIIrd Tyme Out, not to mention both were nominees of the 2001 SPBGMA awards in Nashville. Add the excellent vocals and guitar pickin' of Wayne Winkle, the solid bass playing and outstanding tenor vocals of Eddie "Big Country" Biggerstaff, and smooth fiddling of young Dewey Brown and you've got a bluegrass band that is right on top of their game. On this winter's eve, BlueRidge made the journey from Nashville where they were hangin' at the SPBGMA convention, to the banks of the Ohio and confessed to being a little ragged from pickin' late the night before. You sure couldn't tell it by the fine performance they turned out on this night. As you would expect, the pickin' was top-shelf and vocally BlueRidge can compete with any bluegrass band in the country. They offered up much from their current recording Common Ground as well as several from their soon to be released next project. Also in BlueRidge's repertoire, from Bibey's solo project, "In The Blue Room" is a great Hershel Sizemore tune Amanda Lena, which showcases why Alan was a SPBGMA nominee. They even blew the dust off a couple of classics from Baucom's Boone Creek days with The Old Crossroads and Daniel Prayed which features Terry's signature bass vocals. CLASSIC! The Ripley Bluegrass Series is blessed to be able to host bands of such enormous talent and we, the fans on the banks of the Ohio, reap the harvest. NH
On this winter's eve, the Ripley Bluegrass Series featured the traditional sounds of David Davis and The Warrior River Boys along with opening act, Crossroads. On this evening each member of both acts (10 in all) were sporting those big white 10 gallon white hats. That's a hundred gallons of bluegrass under them hats folks and not a badguy in the bunch. This was my first time of seeing the Warrior River Boys live, though I had seen some video performances before. The Warrior River Boys are undoubtedly the most authentic Monroe-esque style bluegrass band I've seen since the passing of The Master, and with the addition of former Bluegrass Boy, Tom Ewing, the authenticity is solidified even more. Much of their repertoire comes from the pen of Bill Monroe, while other material comes from Ewing, Davis, and others and captures that Monroe sound with an eerie resolve. Listening to the Warrior River Boys on in the pines was enough to send shivers up one's spine, while David Davis' performance on Deford Bailey's, Evening Prayer Blues was proof positive of where he learned his mandolin chops. The spirit of Big Mon was in the house all night long. Another highlight was WRB's recitation, Old Doc Brown's Moved Upstairs. It was stirring to say the least! Along with Davis and Ewing, the Warrior River Boys, featured Josh Smith on banjo, Phillip James, fiddle, and Marty Hays, on upright bass, all turning in a masterful performance. I visited Warrior River Boys record table after their first set and was able to pick up a copy of Tom Ewing's book, The Monroe Reader for my reading pleasure. I spoke briefly with Tom and asked him to autograph my copy of his book. As he signed and dated my copy, Tom remarked on the date, 01- 06- 01, "today's Earl Scrugg's birthday". It just seemed to mean a little more coming from a former Bluegrass Boy who has chronicled the life of Bill Monroe, speaking reverently of the master of the 5-string banjo, and being part of keeping bluegrass music alive, at least on this evening on the banks of The Ohio. Long Live Bluegrass Music! NH
Ripley Bluegrass Series
December 2, 2000
When the Boys From Indiana left the road some 8 years ago, they left a legacy and a sound that most thought would never be experienced again. Little did we know that by the end of the 1990's the Boys would resurface once again in the hearts and souls of their children and The Wildwood Valley Boys. Having undergone several changes since coming onto the scene in 1999, singer/guitarist Tony Holt has succeeded in keeping the Boys From Indiana's sound alive while continuing to carve a niche for himself and The Wildwood Valley Boys. While it might be unfair to a degree to keep comparing The Wildwood Valley Boys and The Boys From Indiana, one finds it difficult to ignore once you hear Tony Holt and company as they perform their predecessor Atlanta is Burning or other Boys From Indiana standards. As you listen to their latest CD offering I'm A Believer, an all gospel project with over half the songs being penned by Tony Holts dad, Aubrey, it solidifies the fact that the legacy lives on.
Saturday's performance featured a slightly altered Wildwood Valley Boys configuration with Barry Crabtree filling in for Wes Vanderpool on 5-string banjo while Wes is away filling an obligation to Uncle Sam . You know you're in capable hands when you're able to bring in a talent such as Crabtree's. Also on hand for a guest shot was Indiana native, Terry Eldridge, who had the night off from Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time and came to support WVB's. Terry delighted the crowd as he sang Hank Williams' Today I Started Loving You Again with The Boys. More of those bluegrass memories!
The Wildwood Valley Boys material besides that of The Boys From Indiana, consist of tunes from Monroe, Hank Sr., The Osborne's and others. Bassman and my bass mentor, Jon Weisberger has an exceptional knowledge base of these old tunes and does a great job of sharing with the crowd the origins of these gems from yesterday. The WVB's offer up the whole package with exceptional vocals as well as harmonies and the pickin' is ROCK SOLID. Tony Holt is a solid guitar picker and excellent lead vocalist, while Weisberger holds it all together with precision timing and impeccable taste on the acoustic bass. Also sharing lead vocal duties, the tenor voice of mandolinist Jamie Johnson, ranks right up there with the best. Add the smooth fiddling of Levi Dennis and banjo picker Crabtree (who seems like he's been there all along) and watch them as they weave their magic around a one mic setup. The WVB's have matured into one of the most exciting new bands on the circuit today and have done it in very short fashion, though their lives are rich with bluegrass tradition. Look for these guys to be in high demand for years to come.
Also on the bill this evening was The Ohio Valley Rounders from the Greater Cincinnati Area. The Rounders have been pleasing crowds in and around the Cincinnati area for some time and tonight was no different. With a reunion of sorts, The Rounders featured Eddie Cunningham on guitar/vocals, Tim Strong - mandolin, Jeff Roberts - banjo, and Natalie McClellan on acoustic bass. Also joining in was WVB's Weisberger for a wonderful rendition of Beautiful Star of Bethlehem in keeping with the holiday spirit. All these folks, Weisberger included, share alot of bluegrass history and have been instrumental in making the Greater Cincinnati bluegrass scene one of the finest in the country and the Ripley Bluegrass Series is blessed to be a part of it all. Do yourself a favor and make plans to put the Ripley venue on your calendar soon. NH
Ripley Bluegrass Series
November 11th, 2000
In a continuing effort to bring quality bluegrass music to the Ohio Valley, the Ripley Bluegrass Series presented Galax, Virginia's Big Country Bluegrass along with Southern Indiana's Rural Route 2. The evening kicked off with Rural Route 2 making a return visit to the Ripley Bluegrass Series and quickly becoming a crowd favorite. Their set included bluegrass standards, some original tunes and a couple of neat remakes of 70's pop tunes. One pop tune that I've always loathed has been Looking Glass's, Brandy. Add a 5-string banjo, a fiddle and mandolin, and the song takes on a whole new life. With a new project under their belt and some increased regional airplay, Rural Route 2 is poised for success. Big Country Bluegrass plays straight-ahead, in-your-face, traditional bluegrass and folks, they're the REAL DEAL! Even though the band was a bit under the weather, it didn't deter from the excitement they generated as they gathered around one mic with precision timing, taste, and talent...all the elements that make up a good bluegrass band. Fiddleman, Jeff Michael was up front for most of the evening with his masterful fiddling and guitar pickin'...not to mention the excellent drop thumb banjo pickin' and wonderful vocals. Larry Pennington puts on a clinic when it comes to Reno-style banjo pickin', and shared the fiddle and vocal duties. And the solid mandolin pickin' of Tommy Sells with his wife, Teresa on guitar and vocals, and Alan Mastin on doghouse bass, rounded out this powerful bluegrass band. Big Country Bluegrass's repertoire consist of timeless classics from Monroe, Reno, Stanley's and others as well as several old-timey and original tunes, all served up with that old time feel around one mic. You don't often find a band that is blessed with such a wealth of talent as Big Country Bluegrass, and with 6 CD's to offer up at their record table, you realize that these folks have been at this game for awhile....and believe me, it shows! This was Big Country Bluegrass's first visit to Ohio or this part of the Ohio Valley, though they did showcase at the 1999 IBMA, World of Bluegrass in Louisville. Their schedule just doesn't lead them to this part of the mid-west, so it was a real pleasure to get the opportunity to see them and with vows to return to next years Ripley Bluegrass Series, at least their journeys will lead them back to the Banks of The Ohio once again. NH
With Poppy Mountain scarcely a month behind us it was time for another road trip. This time it was Wooville's annual pilgrimage to Louisville and IBMA's FanFest....a last ditch effort to stretch out our festival season and this time to do it in style at The Galt House. After FanFest the bluegrass scene dries up considerably with only the occasional weekend show, here and there, until springtime comes around again. Wooville's participation at this years FanFest was at an all time low, with only a handful of us making the journey to the banks of the Ohio. Sometimes life gets in the way of fun and I guess we can all relate to that. Nevertheless, the low turnout didn't dampen our spirits much as we went along our merry way absorbing as much pickin' as our souls would allow. David and Annette were on board as was Lee, and my daughter Carol made her first visit to FanFest with vows of returning next year. After the 2 1/2 hour late-night Chris Thile showcase, I think she's won over forever! And all the time Carol was being entertained by young Thile, Lee and myself were enjoying the retrograss sounds of 1946. As they jumped from one suite to the next, we were there. Them guys are Goooood!
The last few years one of the highlights at FanFest (for myself) has been the Merlefest Roots and Branches stage and this year was no exception with The Sounds of West Virginia featuring Tim O'Brien, The Lilly Brothers, Hazel Dickens and a cast of many. Hazel Dickens simply brought down the house everywhere she performed, whether it was from the Roots and Branches or the FanFest Mainstage. Her performance with Ron Thomason and Dry Branch Fire Squad was amazing. The lady has got more soul than Motown. Another Roots and Branches highlight was Robin and Linda Williams. I just don't get to see these folks enough and to see them in such an intimate setting was awesome to say the least.
As is the case every year, the mainstage provided non-stop, top-notch entertainment. I just couldn't get enough! Del McCoury, Tim O'Brien, IIIrd Tyme Out, Larry Cordle, Rhonda Vincent, and the list goes on and on and on. Both Mountain Heart and Dale Ann Bradley performed sets as good as I've seen....High Octane Bluegrass! And the FanFest jam with Aubrey Haynie, Bryon Sutton, David Talbot, Shane Lane and others.....WOW, what a jam!
Biggest disappointment was again missing out on seeing Johnny Staats who opted out (for some reason) of performing at Sundays FanFest. He did do a showcase earlier in the week before Wooville arrived, but no FanFest performance. This make 3 times that Wooville has missed seeing Staats because of cancelled shows. We're not really sure he even exists. I think I'll make a road trip to West Virginia and start tailing UPS's trucks and see if I can get a glimpse of the illusive mando man just to see if he's for real.
Our FanFest weekend wouldn't be complete without a trip to the 26th floor and The Flagship for a relaxing brunch as we gaze upon the majestic Ohio River. Below us, The Belle of Louisville sits quietly docked in her slip as steam softly spews from her stacks as she prepares for her daily journeys up and down The Ohio. It makes for a peaceful time as we recant all the joys the weekend has brought and already we're thinking about next year, which by the way has been moved up a couple of weeks. Mark your calendars, next years FanFest will be October 5-7 2001. See ya there! NH FanFest Pics
Poppy Pickin' Time
Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival
September 12-16 2000
Morehead , Kentucky
In this part of the bluegrass realm, Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival signifies the end of the outdooor festival season. Fall is upon us as the music moves indoors. I believe the success of Poppy Mountain may be as much about timing as anything else, after all bluegrass being played outdoors is part of what makes our music so special. As the hills of eastern Kentucky are filled with music, you realize that it's over seven months before you will experience this tribal feeling again.
Poppy Mountain 2000 saw many exciting acts crossing it's stages. As festival hosts, IIIrd Tyme Out made numerous appearances with many guests and also as guests with many others. Wednesday nights Fan's Choice show featuring IIIrd Tyme Out gave us many exciting moments as guests like Ernie Thacker, The Stranger's Chris Davis, James King and others shared the stage for an evening of bluegrass memories.
Lou Reid and Carolina's sets on Friday were among the weeks best as Lou was reunited with former Carolina guitar picker, Clay Jones. Also sharing the stage with Lou, Gina, and Jeff was New Vintage's dobroman, Kim Gardner. Carolina's evening set was disrupted by some over-zealous fans, who made their way to the platform in front of the stage as they danced and made asses out of themselves, before being escorted away by MC, The Bo-Man. Actually one of the fans made it to the stage and to Gina's mic, before being hustled away. Not to be upstaged by the fans, Lou leaped from the stage to the platform and did his now infamous, Mando-Stomp. Big Mon would have been proud!
As exciting as the mainstage was, the Showcase Stage up on the hill (where they do do the boogie) had it's own excitment happening. The focus of this years Showcase Stage was on the youth of bluegrass. You couldn't be all places at once, so you had to pick and choose the shows you wanted to see, and for myself it was North Carolina's Southern Drive, and Jeannette Williams and Clearwater with young mando-wizard, Ashby Frank. Both exceptional acts and excellent shows. Glad I didn't miss those. All the buzz was about The Farris Family whom I regret missing. Hopefully I will be able to catch them a little ways down the road.
As with all bluegrass festivals, campsite pickin' is a big part of the fun and one didn't have to venture far in the misty hours of night to find great bluegrass pickin'. I was lucky enough to join in on the pickin' more so than usual to make Poppy Mountain 2000 even more special for myself.
Poppy Mountain has something to offer for everyone and all ages, from the music at the stages and campsites to a full carnival for the kids. There's ATV trails, horseback riding, fishing, and a bus tour of the 1200 acres that make up Poppy Mountain. Also the vending at Poppy Mountain is a cut above the rest, and let me tell you first hand, the apple dumplings are the best you'll find anywhere! A tip of the hat to Marty Stevens, Tim Cahall, and all the Poppy Mountain staff for once again making Poppy Mountain a huge success. See y'all in 2001. NH Poppy Mt. Pics
This was the 10th Annual Brown County Bluegrass Festival, though somewhere along the line this festival started counting all over again. I remember the early days of this festival and then all of a sudden it was the 1st Annual Brown County Bluegrass Festival all over again. Cool concept though; I think I'll start counting my years all over again, starting with let's say 29. Yea, that's right, I'll be 29 again. Anyway, The Osborne Brothers seemed to remember playing this festival about 12 years ago and that sounds about right, and now they returned for the 10th Annual Brown County BG Festival. Sounds confusing, huh? No matter, this has turned into one of the finest bluegrass festivals in southern Ohio. Georgetown is only 20 miles from my home on the banks of the Ohio though I somehow find it hard to work this festival into my schedule. I guess it's so close that it seems less like a journey for me, but my friends from Wooville-North (Columbus) found it right to their liking. And I have to admit, I was only able to attend on Saturday, but I sure had a great time. Osborne Brothers, Lewis Family, New Vintage, James King Band, and others made for a pretty traditional lineup, not to mention the folks I missed on the other days, such as Jim and Jesse and Ralph Stanley. I guess I'm gonna have to make a little more effort to add this festival to my schedule. I bet I can talk my Wooville-North buddies into a return trip. NH
Smokin' Seafood Festival 2000
Nelson Ledges Quarry
August 19-20, 2000
The second annual Smokin' Seafood Fest in northeast Ohio was new territory for Woovillians. The scene was a far cry from our normal bluegrass excursions, but we knew that going in. Leftover Salmon was the headliner for 2 days and that meant a much younger crowd than you find at bluegrass festivals. Also on the bill was Yonder Mountain String Band, Hypnotic Clambake , The Recipe and others. The scene was pretty much a miniature dead-show with the green buds being twisted freely, but the small size of the crowd (est. 1500) made for a pleasurable weekend. The music was not exactly bluegrass but Bill Monroe was played there many times and (most of) the instruments were acoustic, and all of the music was very good. The sound in the stage area was more than adequate, though there were a few sound problems. The surroundings of the quarry was an added highlight for camping. The landscape and the quarry were pretty darn cool. The quarry provided a small beach and an enormous swimming area, along with canoeing and scuba diving for the more adventurous. Easy trails led around the quarry and the owners boasted of wildlife, though the only wildlife I was able to spot were in the form of Dead-Heads. Facilities were a little lacking and good or bad, there was no visible security. But the bottom line is I can't wait for Smokin' Seafood 3! NH Pics From The Ledges
July 2000 is history and for the Wooville travelers it was one filled with music of which a great deal was bluegrass. Every Monday evening you could find Woovillians at our favorite watering hole, McCarthy's Irish Bar, sippin' on a cold one before taking in a live taping of The Woodsong's Old-Time Radio Hour at The Kentucky Theatre in downtown Lexington. July's shows hosted Larry Cordle, Rhonda Vincent, John Cowan and assorted celtic and folk artists to round out a fantastic month for Woodsongs. The weekend prior to her Woodsongs visit we were able to catch up with Rhonda Vincent in Augusta, Kentucky, where she was introduced by hometown girl, Heather French, Miss America 2000, and made a Kentucky Colonel for her work and dedication to the homeless veterans, and followed by two wonderful sets by Rhonda and The Rage. Masters Musicians Festival in Somerset, Kentucky was also a stop along Wooville's festival trail. We took in a day of bluegrass and acoustic music with Missy Raines and Jim Hurst, Juggernaut Jug Band, Doc Watson, Claire Lynch and The Front Porch String Band, and The John Cowan Band, along with others. The weekend also found the Wooville clan camped along the Rockcastle River at nearby Bee Rock campground. Great music and great camping. Life was good in Wooville!
Not done yet...Still had a road-trip to Columbus, Ohio on our schedule and a rendevous with our comrades from Wooville-North at The Bluegrass Classic (M.A.C.C.). I had to get an early start to this one because Thursday's lineup was as strong a show as you're likely to find with Alison Krauss and Union Station, Blue Highway, BlueRidge, Osborne Brothers, IIIrd Tyme Out and Iris DeMent. Yeehaw! As great as Thursdays lineup was there was no letdown with the rest of the weekend. It just kept getting better and better until it wound down to Saturday's finale with Tony Rice, Bela Fleck, Doyle Lawson, Dan Tyminski and Barry Bales.
Looks like I'll have a couple weeks down time before my next road-trip which will lead me to northeast Ohio for two days of Leftover Salmon along with The David Nelson Band, Yonder Mountain String Band and others at The Smokin' Seafood Festival. Then it's back home for The Brown County Bluegrass Festival which is only 25 miles from my home on the banks of the Ohio. Throw in a couple of visits to Woodsongs and it looks like a busy August. It's been a great summer and it's barely half over. Hope yours has been great too!
Aged To Perfection
Festival of The Bluegrass
Kentucky Horse Park
June 8-11 2000
Just like the fine Eagle Rare Kentucky bourbon which is aged 10 years in white oak, Wooville has aged 10 years in the pines. 2000 marked the 10th year since Hippie Hill and Billville converged on The Kentucky Horse Park during the annual Festival of The Bluegrass and created the tent city settlement of Wooville. And just like the aged bourbon reaches it's maturity, Wooville reached it's maturity in year 2000. Absolutely perfect weather brought Woovillians out in droves as tent after tent began to spring up in the pines. New friendships were forged and old ones rekindled as we all shared one common interest, bluegrass music. The pickin' at Wooville was at an all time high this year with the addition of more talented Wooville partners who helped raise the level of pickin' to a higher plateau. Hey we may not be ready for primetime, but we were definitely primed for Wooville time. With the Wooville Pine Pickers and their backup singers, The Tower of Babble Singers, you had entertainment like you've never before seen in Wooville, and then Spontaneous Combustion ignited in Wooville to show us how the big boys do it. But that's another story. See More Concert Review.
2000 also marks the first year that our Floyd County friends setup camp in Wooville. Oh shit, there goes the neighborhood! No, just kidding! It was great having them join us and with Juanita, Warrior Princess there to add to our never ending feast, the food was better than ever. We had turkeys, ducks, steak, deer, ribs, brats, burgers, chicken and so on plus all the fixins and plenty of cold beverages to quench even the most powerful thirst.
This year Woovillians didn't venture out on many walkabouts. All roads seemed to lead to Wooville. If you did venture out, you returned pretty quick because in the late night hours we were the most lively camp around. I do wish I had made time for a walkabout to the opposite side of the campground where ex-Stanley sideman, Renfro Profitt was hangin' out. Wooville camper and friend, Mary Yeoman brought back tales of much hot pickin' coming out of that camp, so it's no wonder I couldn't coerce her into sittin' in with the Wooville Pine Pickers. I mean after all, that was STANLEY MUSIC!
As usual, the mainstage in the concert area provided many great festival highlights. Thursday evening brought us Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike who won the hearts of Wooville at last years festival. One special moment found David at Valerie's CD table after their set to pick up her newest release, Turtle Wings for young Sara Whitney. Sara had just had arthoscopic surgery the day before for a torn ACL, and was confined to a wheelchair. David gathered autographs from Liberty Pike members, but Valerie wanted to do something special, so she took the CD to Sara Whitney personally and signed it for her along with some get well wishes. Made Sara Whitney's day for sure and shows why our music is so special. Thanks Val! Another special moment from the mainstage was the Seldom Scenes encore. They came back on stage and piped into the PA the hidden track from their brand new CD, Scene It All, which seems to be a rough studio mix with John Duffey singing Bonnie Guitars' From This Moment On. It clearly brought a tear to Lou Reeds eyes as well as the many who loved John. Then they ended up with the current Scene lineup doing their version of the same song, also found on the new project. Priceless!
Overall, I found the lineup just a little weaker than years past, only because there wasn't the big name headliner that attracts folks from out of the genre, like Ricky Skaggs or Alison Krauss who gather fans from outside bluegrass music. Yet that left the festival geared more towards the avid bluegrass fan which suits me just fine. Lonesome River Band made their first Festival of The Bluegrass appearance to the crowds delight and IIIrd Tyme Out and Dry Branch Fire Squad are also big crowd pleasers. The Kruger Brothers made a return visit with their super-charged bluegrass, Swiss style. Great sets from The Krugers and even though they were in that dreaded dinnertime slot for their second set and crowd turnout was very low, it didn't deter their enthusiasm. Another fun set was The Old Kentucky Clodhoppers, an old timey band with Mary Yeoman's good buddies, Willie and Earl, on fiddle and clawhammer. Festival of The Bluegrass needs to put more old time music in the lineup, don't ya think? And one of my personal favorites was Jeff White who brought along a couple of his Union Station alumni, Mike Harmon on banjo and John Pennell on upright bass along with mandolin wizard, Ronnie McCoury. Great stuff!!! There were acts there to please most everyone's taste, with The Lewis Family, Doyle Lawson, J.D. Crowe....did I say a weaker lineup? On second thought........
It is said that many things get better with age, a fine wine, good Kentucky bourbon, cheese. Did I say CHEESE? Anyway, if that's the case many more wonderful Wooville years lie before us and in the end maybe it will be said, "you know, The Wooville Pine Pickers and Tower of Babble Singers are just aged to perfection". NH
March 17, 2000
If there is a better setting for bluegrass music than The Ryman, I have yet to find it. And there's no better time to make a visit than during a bluegrass benefit such as the one on this evening, a music scholarship fund raiser in the name of Roy Huskey Jr., Randy Howard, and Charles Sawtelle. Nashville is home to many top names in bluegrass, so you can count on the entertainment to be first rate.
The show started with John Hartford and The Hartford String Band who set the tone on this St. Paddy's Day, with a fiddle tune, Irish Cobbler, as well as a couple of Hartford trademark tunes, like the ever popular Gentle On My Mind. Deanie Richardson and Jeff White were up next with one of Jeff's tunes and Monroe's Molly and Tenbrook before bringing on Patty Loveless for a rousing rendition of Daniel Prayed and joined by Carmella Ramsey and Patty's husband, Emory Gordy Jr. on bass. Ms. Loveless made her exit and joining those already on stage were Matt King along with Rob and Ronnie McCoury who livened up the ol' mother church with Cryin' Holy. You could feel the energy building and we were just getting started. Wild and Blue entered the stage with some talented string wizards in tow, in Aubrey Haynie, Bryan Sutton and Barry Crabtree for some high-energy bluegrass gospel that ended with a version of Get Up John that would have made Monroe proud. Tim O'Brien was joined by the house band, Aubrey Haynie, Rob Ikes, David Harvey, Bryan Sutton and bassman Dave Pomeroy who takes bass playing to a higher level. Oh yeah, we were cookin' now!
As an extra special treat for the Wooville folks, up next was singer/songwriter Mel Besher who goes way back to our formative bluegrass years and The Festival of The Bluegrass at Masterson Station. Mel brought his Dad on stage to help out on When I Get My Rewards. Lee and myself caught up with Mel during intermission as we reminisced about the old days and Bill Stokes' hot peppers. No one ever forgets Bill's peppers!
Kathy Chiavola reminded us all why we were here tonight as she talked of our fallen comrades. Kathy had with her Italian guitarist, Beppe Gambetta and an Italian mandolin picker whom she said was one of Randy Howard's favorite mandolin players and referred to as that Carlo guy. I didn't catch his last name, but that Carlo guy could sure pick the fire out of that mando. One of the evenings most stirring moments was Kathy with Brent Truitt on mandolin as they played Shenandoah Valley Waltz without solo as you let your imagination fill in the sounds of Randy Howard, and in this building that wasn't so hard to do. The Cluster Pluckers gave us Down In The Willow Garden and Gail Davies did a wonderful Irish folk song that she'd learned many years ago from her grandmother.
Sam Bush took the stage next as the energy level took another leap as Sam and friends cut loose with Howlin' at The Moon. Again we were reminded of what brought us all together on this star-studded night as Sam along with John Randall Stewart and Emmylou came together for Sam's heartfelt A Song For Roy. Marty Stuart took center stage and performed an absolutely beautiful mandolin solo and then invited Sam back to the stage for one of those killer Monroe instrumentals, before bringing wife, Connie Smith out for Nobody's Darlin' with Emmylou joining in on harmony vocals.
At this point there was a slide show presentation chronicling the lives of Huskey, Howard, and Sawtelle, three amazing musicians who will forever be remembered through their friends and through their music.
After a short intermission, Sonya Isaac's, of The Isaac's, took the stage as a prelude to her Saturday night Opry solo debut. Sonya surely has a promising solo career ahead of her. Next was Patty Mitchell along with the house band and a fellow who could flat out pick that Nashville Sound on the Telecaster. Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time received the evenings 1st standing ovation on the Cordle penned tune that has taken Nashville by storm Murder on Music Row, a sentiment felt by most in attendance. And next was Lorianna Pomeroy joined by Andrea Zonn on fiddle, before making way for rebel rouser, Steve Earle. Steve took the stage solo, armed with guitar, harmonica and his songwriting talents as he took us back 40 years when songwriters like Dylan struck a chord in our consciousness. Steve also was joined on stage by Emmylou as they dueted on an Earle tune that both Steve and Emmylou had recorded, I Can't Remember If We Said Goodbye.
Jamie Hartford has come a long way since we saw him perform with his Dad many years ago at The Festival of The Bluegrass as he rocked the Ryman on this festive evening, only to be followed by Mike Henderson and The Bluebloods, whose country/blues are some of Nashville's best.
Emmylou Harris closed out the evening with Buddy and Julie Miller and ended the show with Lennon-McCartney's In My Life as a tribute to those being honored tonight. What a fitting end to a night of musical amazement.
A trip to Nashville wouldn't be complete without a trip to The World Famous Station Inn, so on Saturday Wooville spent the evening with the bluegrass sounds of The Bob Smiley Band. What a fine bluegrass band with Bob Smiley on guitar and vocals, Carl Caldwell, mandolin/vocals, Tom Saffell on 5 and 8 string banjo, and Marilyn Barclay making her debut on upright bass. Tom mostly picked the 8 string with a neck the size of a 2x4, and Man was he all over it! The material chosen on this night made The Bob Smiley Band an instant Wooville hit with tunes like You Plant Your Fields and Hartford's Steam Powered Aereo Plane to accent their excellent originals. If you ever find yourself in Nashville and Bob Smiley is pickin' it out at The Station Inn, believe me you can't go wrong with them. I think I'll start now planning my next trip, anybody wanna go?NH
Wooville Does Woodsongs
Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour
This cold and blustery January evening found the Wooville clan out in strong numbers as we made a visit to the Lexington Central Public Library for the 86th taping of the Woodsongs Old-Time Radio Hour. On the bill this evening was Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike, which was reason enough to leave the warmth of our homes to enjoy some fantastic bluegrass music, and meet with some dear old friends. It also seems that the Woovillian's have adopted a pre-show meeting place for our Woodsong's visits in a quaint little Irish pub one block away, McCarthy's, where we can knock back a couple of Red or Dark cold ones on tap before the show. Linda and myself met with Bob and Andrea, David, Don and Sheila, and some of their friends from The Gulch, before our cool walk to Woodsongs. On arriving at the studio, the first person we spotted was friend of Wooville, Liberty Pike bassist/vocalist, Sheila Wingate. Charming as always and looking Marvelous with her new found secret to weight loss. As we looked around the lobby, there were many familiar faces on hand, and most of them there for the same reason, that being Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike. Bob Cornett was on hand, as was Tim, The Poppy Mountain Hippie. Other notable folks on hand were Russ Farmer, who is the dude in charge of bringing us all those great Jubilee shows on KET, plus Earl, the soldigoldbluegrass guy who is making it possible to hear Woodsongs via the Internet.
The show started promptly at 7PM with a welcome and a tune from show host, Michael Jonathan, before bringing on first guest Valerie and Liberty Pike, who opened with Del McCoury's I Feel The Blues Movin' In, and a short chat with Valerie and then another number,Red Clay Halo. Next on this evenings bill was singer/songwriter, Ace Ford. Ace hails from Texas, and now makes Nashville his home. Fans of folkies in the vain of John Prine or Ramblin' Jack Elliot, will find Ace more than appealing. I know I did, and I can vouch for his newest CD, Alkali which is awesome. Ace and his partner, Harold Kennedy played one from the new project and then it was discovered that there was a technical problem and the first 20 minutes of the show had to be scratched. That was okay by us because we got another chance to see Valerie and her band for a repeat performance. After a repeat of the first 20 minutes the show continued with more from Ace and Valerie. Valerie and Liberty Pike's next selection was Fast Train Through Arkansas and then they closed with crowd pleaser,Good Man. Before closing out the show, Michael brought both, fiddler Andy Leftwich and banjo picker, Allen Watkins from Liberty Pike, center stage for an impromtu demomstration of their craft. The studio setting brought out such a beautiful tone in these instruments, it was spellbinding.
Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike do have a new recording due out the first of May, yet all the song on the Woodsongs show were from Valerie's last project, but for those lucky enough to tune into WRVG Georgetown, Monday afternoon prior to the Woodsongs taping, they did perform a couple from the new project Turtle Wings. Gonna be a good one folks!
There's lots more great music coming to Woodsongs in the future, so do yourself a favor and plan a visit soon. Woodsongs tapes every Monday evening and admission is free. Just call ahead and make reservations at the Woodsongs hotline, (606)231-5555. Woodsongs is quickly out-growing the Central Public Library and rumors are starting to circulate that their next home will be the Kentucky Theatre. That will be a cool venue for Woodsongs, yet with the move an admission price policy will be adopted. Not a big deal for those wanting to see top-notch music of all sorts from all corners of the world. Check back in at Wooville from time to time and I will post upcoming Woodsongs shows of interest to Woovillians. Mark your calenders now for the Woodsongs return visit of The Kruger Brothers, prior to Festival of The Bluegrass 2000. NH