Monday, November 12, 2018

Darin & Brooke Aldridge Sign with Rounder Records



Rounder Records announces that Darin & Brooke Aldridge have inked a deal with Rounder Records.  Darin & Brooke Aldridge have joined their highly acclaimed roster and will be releasing a new album for the label in 2019. The duo joins former and ongoing greats like Alison Krauss, Rhonda Vincent,  Béla Fleck, Hazel Dickens, Dailey & Vincent, The Steep Canyon Rangers,The Steeldrivers, and, more recently, Steve Martin. The Gibson Brothers, and The Lonely Heartstring Band, who have graced the label since its founding in 1970, when three Tufts University students (Ken Irwin, Marian Levy and Bill Nowlin) traveled to Appalachia on collecting expeditions during their vacations

Darin & Brooke have been building their band and their reputation, while burnishing their already significant singing and instrumental skills together since releasing their first album in 2010. Darin began his professional career with Accoustic Syndicate while still in high school, later touring with The Country Gentlemen for nine years and forming a band called the Circuit Riders after Charlie Waller's death. Darin and Brooke Justice met in church near her home in Avery County, NC.

We first met Darin and Brooke in 2008 at a local Cherryville, NC jam held in an quietly well-known weekly jam held in an old, cinder block Bomb Shelter. She was sporting a new engagement ring. Soon after, at a rehearsal of Darin's then current band, The Circuit Riders, who were preparing to open for the James King Band, we first were captivated by the strength and sweetness of this emerging duo and romantic couple.They were married in 2010   Over the early years of their career, we traveled with them at some length, as they sang at a tiny storefront church in North Carolina, as well as a variety of concert halls and bluegrass festivals up and down the East Coast. Long drives, late nights, and hard work turned them into a sublime duo. Brooke's haunting, magical voice, Darin's brilliant instrumentals and strong harmony, along with his vision for a band that didn't yet exist combined with their deep faith and commitment to each other dominated their life.

Local gigs turned into national performances as changes in the band improved it each time they were made, and people noticed their music and their love story. They found new songs, new fans, new musical partners who helped spread the word. They toured with Jimmy Fortune, long-time singer and song-writer with the Statler Brothers,  and, more recently John Cowan, lead singer for many years with the New Grass Revival,  whom they tour with when he's not performing with the Doobie Brothers. Each album opened new doors, helping them find better ways to showcase themselves as they grew into new roles, performing with grace and charm.

Award nominations began to come as well as performances at the Grand Old Opry. This year, Brooke was awarded her second consecutive IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, a recognition widely popular and richly deserved. Darin was recognized as Mentor of the Year at the IBMA Mentor Awards for his work as a teacher and with the development on ongoing educational efforts of the Earl Scruggs Center in Shelby, NC, near their home. In the past year they have been featured on the Grand Old Opry over ten times as well as on RFD-TV's Larry's Country Diner. Their work has charted regularly.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Someday Soon


Rounder co-founder Ken Irwin said, ""Darin and Brooke are two of the most gifted and hard-working young artists in bluegrass. Their soaring vocals and extraordinarily beautiful harmonies really make them stand out. After being fans for years, we're excited to have the opportunity to work with them." 

Darin Aldridge added, "As artists, there aren't adequate words to describe the feeling when you realize you get to be a part of a label that has done such extraordinary things within the music industry for so many years and still continues to do them today. We are honored to embark on this new adventure with Rounder and look forward to sharing new music with ALL of our friends in 2019!"

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Tennessee Flat-Top Box

Brooke wrote to me saying, "It's neat to sit back and think of all we've worked for, the goals we started out with, and the many we've accomplished. We feel extremely blessed."

The move to Rounder Records marks a significant step for Darin & Brooke Aldridge and their band. Rounder's history and their personal journey and love story are a natural fit. What comes next should add luster to their continuing tale. 

Darin & Brooke

Monday, November 5, 2018

Nighttown by Timothy Hallinan - Book Review





If you like your crime fiction detectives smart, funny, complex, and insightful and haven’t yet met Tim Hallinan’s Junior Bender, Nighttown (Soho Crime, 385 pages, November, 2019, $26.96/14.99) you’ve been missing a rising star whose latest outing, the seventh in the series, takes him to new heights of risk while continuing to grow and evolve as a character you will quickly come to treasure. Bender’s first arrival in Herbie’s Game won the 2015 Lefty Award for best comic mystery novel. Hallinan’s humor is character and plot driven, rather than built on the wisecrack. His characters are quirky and real, while protagonist Junior Bender, sometimes clueless about the characters he loves the most, earnestly works towards solving the problems of the problematic.

Bender lives mostly at night in the shadows, befitting because of the shady nature of his clients themselves. You see, he is the go-to detective for criminals who can’t seek help from the police to solve their problems. Junior, at once a deeply moral person and an accomplished thief who has never been caught but is always on the police radar, must navigate the dark world between people who have no compunction against killing him if he fails, and his own strong drive for stability and true love. Out of these internal conflicts emerges a fully-rounded person capable of both compassion and deviousness. His sense of justice is superb, fitting perfectly with the conscience he must battle all the time along with maintaining his ethical sense of responsibility.

Nightown Opens with Junior in a 1908 house once owned by a recently deceased isolate, one of Hallinan’s typically wounded women. Junior’s been paid $25,000, half of his offer for this job, to steal something, but he’s not certain why it has value. He does, however, know that he’s not the only person in the hunt. The book opens with Junior casing the house filled with Hallinan’s unique smells, creaking stairways, and off-beat observations of the world that only Junior Bender can fully inhabit. Furthermore, it soon emerges that Ronnie, Junior’s latest love, has a two year old son whose father has kidnapped him and kept him away from her. That’s the secret she’s been keeping ever since she was introduced to the plot line several books ago. I wonder though whether Junior’s ex-wife and daughter, her boyfriend, and the two computer wizard girls have disappeared to in this volume. I can only wish they return later in counterpoint to Ronnie.

Hallinan’s language sets him aside from every other contemporary fiction writer I’ve encountered. Especially with Junior Bender, the literate, sometimes off the wall imagery, similes and metaphors fly out of Juniors mouth or race through his head as if such a brilliant rif were immediately available to the rest of us, too. His dialogue sparkles as it defines class and character, combing with descriptive language to present a whole picture. There’s a joy in reading Hallinan, in simply taking in the breadth of what appears to be casual knowledge but must actually reflect the distillation of hours of careful research and wide, inclusive reading. As Hallinan manages to pack away two one hundred thousand word novels a year, most of it must come from some easily tapped internal source, but its breadth is enormous, suggesting deep familiarity with a wide range of literary material from outside his genre. How many detective fiction books mention Hieronymus Bosch?

Hallinan’s children, as odd, broken and twisted as they may be (Anime, Lilli, Eaglet, and his daughter Rena in the Bender series as well as Poke Rafferty’s wife Rose, daughter Mia and her street and school friends in the Bangkok-based Poke Rafferty thriller series) are real and seem alive. Junior may be the only character in the genre, at least the only one I’ve met, who likes nice kids, and talks to them as if they were humans. Robert A. Heinlein did that in science fiction a lifetime ago, but children are rare in genre fiction. Hallinan creates believable, quirky children today, developing Junior in whole, over time, as a man to whom family is real and matters, despite his own issues with personal reliability in relationships.

Timothy Hallinan


Timothy Hallinan has led an interesting and varied life, working in public relations, in the film industry, and doing corporate consulting on media and outreach. He is the author of three detective series. His first, the Simeon Grist novels were mostly published in the 1990’s, with a revival this year in a new and inventive (almost fantasy) manifestation. The Junior Bender series and the Poke Rafferty series have each been running at the pace of one novel each per year for the past several years. Hallinan lives in Los Angeles and Bankok, both of which add color and variety to his writing.

The convoluted plot of Nighttown (Soho Crime, 385 pages, November, 2019, $26.96/14.99) includes many of the characters that have appeared in previous Bender tales. As usual in series fiction, it’s not necessary to have read the previous versions to “get” this one, but I defy you not to go back to pick the earlier ones up and read them, too. I don’t think Hallinan’s characters emerge fully drawn from the head of Zeus, but they maintain an inner consistency, while growing, too. Nighttown is a particularly strong entry, deserving your attention and demanding your respect for the character and the mind creating him. Hallinan throws insights away that others, both writers and readers, would spend a lifetime seeking to discover. I read Nighttown in a galley version sent to me by the author, who, while I’ve never met him, is a frequent correspondent whom I consider to be a friend. I highly recommend the book.



Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Bill Monroe: The Life and Music of the Blue Grass Man by Tom Ewing - Book Review





Tom Ewing’s Bill Monroe:The Life and Music of The Blue Grass Man (University Illinois Press, 2018, 656 pages, $34.95, 19.95) is a huge piece of Monroe scholarship bringing together a range of sources testifying to the hard work and thoroughness of the author. At this point, and until further work is done, it must stand as the definitive biography of the Father of Bluegrass, whose long, complicated life, background, musical genius, along some of his flaws, are carefully, thoughtfully, and exhaustively documented.

Perhaps the strongest portions of the book are the painstakingly assembled history of Monroe’s genealogy, the account of his difficult childhood during which his development was affected by his poor eyesight, and the transformative power of music in his life. Along with this, Ewing establishes a picture of the hardship and hard physical labor which helped to establish Monroe’s legendary stamina and work ethic. The author is always careful to place the arc of Monroe’s life within the context of important national news events of the times as well as milestones in music’s development and change through the decades. This practice helps provide context and texture to the story as well as, sometimes, explaining choices that Monroe made or was forced to accept.

Organized into ten chapters with each but the first covering a decade of Monroe’s life, Ewing has gone to great lengths to detail appearances, recording sessions, members of the band and the hazards of travel. For many readers these almost day-by-day accounts of where Monroe was, the difficulty of getting there, the fluidity of members moving through the band, and other massing of detail will provide the literary fodder they crave. Many important mileposts are signaled by boldface headings within chapters, but turn out to take a paragraph or less to cover before Ewing moves on to greater masses of detail. Some readers might prefer further analysis of how events may have influenced decisions and actions Monroe took.

The book contains extensive evidence of Bill Monroe’s efforts to both protect “his” music and to encourage musicians influenced by his music to find their own mode of expression. For instance, in 1941 the first case is described of a mandolin player being told to not play like Monroe, but rather develop his own style. Stories from every era afterwards repeat this story in one way or another as Monroe taught, changed, and protected his music. Many fine and, later, well-known musicians, got their start with him, while others were initially drawn to his style of music from seeing him or hearing him on the radio and in recordings. He came, however, to view many of these emerging bands, which would become iconic in their own right, as competitors of “his” music.

Monroe was always careful to seek to protect his own music while, simultaneously being aware of changes in popular music. The longevity of his career speaks to both his stubborn insistence on his own vision along with a willingness to bend to changes in popular music when times demanded it, at least until he began to institutionalize his own music as he grew old and became recognized as the Father of Bluegrass Music. At one recording session in 1958, Red Cravens remarked to Bill that he ought to play more old songs. He reported Bill as saying, “That’s in the past...You got to keep looking forward….Don’t look back.” (200) Monroe appears always to have been watching what was happening in music, adapting to current styles and trends, and reflecting them in his music. His adopting Elvis Presley’s interpretation of his Blue Moon of Kentucky is perhaps the best example of this.

Monroe’s complex and varied relationships with women are dealt with extensively, but not with any particular depth of understanding or analysis, which they deserve. Similarly his feuds with Flatt & Scruggs as well as others he seems to have thought were riding on his reputation deserve further analysis. Monroe’s successful efforts to keep Jimmy Martin from being made a member of the Grand Old Opry, perhaps because of his pursuit of Bill’s daughter Melissa, deserve further explication. Similarly, Bill’s relationship with his son James is complex and costly to him.

One of the great virtues of Ewing’s book is the connection he continually makes between Monroe and other seminal figures in the history of bluegrass who all seem to come into contact with Monroe at some point, influencing him and being influenced by him. This includes not only musicians, but entrepreneurs (Ralph Rinzler & Carlton Haney), scholars (Neil Rosenberg and Fred Bartenstein), venues (New River Ranch, Sunset Park, Brown County Jamboree, The Grand Old Opry), and so-on. By pulling this all together, Ewing firmly cements Monroe’s place in music history in huge, sometimes tiresome, but always useful, detail. Perhaps the sheer length of Monroe’s life and his vast importance keep a single volume account from ever being entirely satisfactory or a single review from covering it adequately. My own notes contain over 6,000 words.

Tom Ewing


Tom Ewing served as the last lead singer and guitarist in the Blue Grass Boys during the period 1986 – 1996, also appearing on three albums. He attended Ohio State University, earning degrees in journalism and education. He has written extensively about Bill Monroe as well as writing a column for Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. He has been a founder or a member of several bands devoted to either playing Monroe’s music or emulating his style.

Tom Ewing has written a comprehensive and detailed, almost encyclopedic, account of Bill Monroe’s life and times, including extensive notes and index. It offers insights into Monroe’s behavior while generally leaving it to the reader to draw conclusions about their meaning. This quality is both an asset and a liability to this book, but perhaps Ewing’s decisions are sound, while much more remains to be written to fully encompass this brilliant, crusty, strong, and needy man whose musical influence continues to be felt, even after nearly one hundred years of its first emergence. The University of Illinois Press provided me a hard back copy of Tom Ewing’s Bill Monroe:The Life and Music of The Blue Grass Man (University Illinois Press, 2018, 656 pages, $34.95, 19.95).

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival 2018 - Review



Held over Labor Day Weekend, the 47th Annual Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival, founded by Bill Monroe and Ralph Stanley, succeeded, once again in providing the stimulating mixture of old-time, traditional bluegrass, and major popular bluegrass bands along with a few ancillary surprises to slightly stir the soup. Four of the bands in this year's lineup are nominated for IBMA Emerging Band of the Year in 2018, a testimony to the farsightedness of this festival's bookings.  Operated as a not-for profit 501(c)(3) organization by the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music, Delaware Valley, located within relatively easy travel range between Washington, D.C. and New York City, is the most meticulously planned and joyously operated bluegrass festival we attend. The camping facilties, while limited in amenities, provide a vast area for groups to gather together for a camping weekend featuring lots of jamming and good fun. The vendors are plentiful and varied, the available food is a cut above most bluegrass festival food, but doesn't quite reach that of major mixed music festivals, a small criticism considering its other very attractive features. Let's take a look at the show.

Friday
Board Chair Carl Goldstein and Board Member George Mercer


David Davis and the Warrior River Boys

David Davis, a native of northern Alabama, and a long-time interpreter of Bill Monroe style mandolin play has reached back to the period before bluegrass was born to precursor Charlie Poole, an early three finger and clawhammer banjo player first recorded by Ralph Peer in the late 1920's, for the content and inspiration of his latest recording on Rounder Records. Along with Robert Mongomery's banjo play, he interprets the early Poole work in a bluegrass idiom that does both bluegrass and old time honor. This is a fine step for Davis, as he tours bluegrass festivals as well as Americana and Folk festivals with his fine sound. I'm only sad that my sound connection failed to yield any usable video for this first day of the festival. 

David Davis

Robert Montgomery

Shadd Cobb

Marty Hays

Stan Wilemon

Emcee Katy Daly with David Davis

The Merch Area is Ready

Setting Up for the Weekend

Dom Flemons

Bluegrass festivals often forget, or choose to ignore, the rich history of African-American blues, field chants, work songs, and prison ballads that have contributed to its repertory since its very beginning. Flemons, an original founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, tours with a show helping the audience to remember this history from harmonica player DeFord Bailey, the first African American to play the Grand Old Opry through a lively program of music he has curated in a manner both scholarly and entertaining. We are reminded that A.P. Carter collected his music not only from white Appalachians but from African-American field hands and gospel groups. Accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Brian Farrow, the show was lively, entertaining, and informative. 

Brian Farrow & Dom Flemons

Dom Flemons

Brian Farrow

Southard Audio
Jason Misterka



Southard Audio once again provided pristine sound for each band, managing, as usual, to bring out the very best of each distinctive band in the lineup. Its grueling work with few breaks and requiring constant attention, for which we are all grateful. 

Jesse Stover

Mile Twelve



Mile Twelve, nominated for IBMA Emerging Band of the Year in 2018, is a Boston-based band with lots of connections to Berklee College of Music. So much music has come out of Boston in recent years, that it has been characterized as the Berklee Sound, sometimes derisively at other times with excitement and respect. I tend to come down on the latter side, particularly enjoying this band for their musicianship and their song writing. 

Evan Murphy



BB Bowness

Bronwyn Keith-Hynes

David Benedict

Nate Sabat

Suzy Bogguss & Band Warming Up


Best T-Shirts in Bluegrass

Suzy Bogguss

Suzy Bogguss has had a major career in country music, continuing to tour from coast to coast, Alaska to New Jersey. On stage, her mellow voice and youthful enthusiasm belie her experience. She glows with energy and warmth onstage, backstage, and at the merch table, where she stood and signed until the last fan was satisfied. First rate performance!

Suzy Bogguss




Suzy Bogguss at the Merch Table


With Photographer Frank Baker

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper

When I went to the front of the stage to photograph Mike Cleveland, he had broken a string on his fiddle, which didn't stop him for an instant. Those who haven't seen this great fiddler, ten time IBMA Fiddle Player of the Year, on mandolin or jamming with a guitar aren't aware of the depth and breadth of his musicianship. The current band, with veterans at every position but banjo, supports Mike's play while making outstanding contributions on their own. Nathan Livers on mandolin and Joshua Richards on guitar and vocals are particular standouts. This band keeps reaching new heights while seeking to match its leader. 

Michael Cleveland


Joshua Richards


Nathan Livers


Tyler Griffith


Josiah Schrode

Stage Manger Howard Parker and Emcee Katy Daly


Hot Rize with Mike Cleveland



Legendary band Hot Rize is on its fortieth anniversary tour, highlighting a course of remarkable excellence, continuity, and innovation in bluegrass music. With each of its members leading a busy and successful professional life in music outside the band, Hot Rize tours represent a rare and welcome reminder of how a band continues perform and to grow. It was a particular pleasure to see Nick Forster recovered from his bicycle accident enough to perform. An added pleasure was the appearance of Mike Cleveland in both the Hot Rize and as Elmo Otto in the Red Knuckles segment. 

Tim O'Brien & Brian Sutton

Pete Wernick & Nick Forster

Brian Sutton

Pete Wernick

Nick Forster & Tim O'Brien


What an opening day for this fine festival!

Saturday

Jeff Scroggins & Colorado

Jeff Scroggins & Colorado calls Colorado its home, but really comes from all over. Talented singer/guitarist Greg Blake originated in West Virginia, Ellie Haskonen is based, I think, in Oregon. Tristan Scroggins lives in New Mexico, and Jeff Scroggins, a Winfield winner on banjo, currently lives in Vancouver, British Columbia. Their sound is as eclectic, and interesting, as their background is transitory. The band has emerged in the last three years with an exciting, driving sound that garnered awards and recognition. The great Mark Schatz played bass and clawhammer banjo with them at Delaware Valley. 

Jeff Scroggins


Tristan Scroggins

Greg Blake

Ellie Hakonson

Mark Schatz

Jeff Scroggins & Colorado - Hills of My Home



Bill & the Belles

Bill & the Belles fills a niche not often recognized in the musical history of bluegrass music...the pop dance music of the 1920's and 1930's, music that must have been on the radio and in clubs when Bill Monroe was seeking his ideal sound in the industrial ring around the Great Lakes. Reminiscent of the crooning dance music of the likes of Rudy Valle and others, their sound is filled with melody, and harmony with hints of jazz and the dance music of the time. The creation of Kris Truelson, at the Birthplace of Country Music Museum in Bristol, VA, this is music worth hearing and appreciating. 

Kris Truelson

Kalia Yeagle 

Grace van't Hof

Matt Downing on Clarinet &
Aaron Olwell on Bass

Yeagle, Truelson, van't Hof

Bill & the Belles - Tuck Away My Lonesome Blues




Corn Hole - The National Sport of Bluegrass

High Fidelity

The name of this band subtly tells their story. Fidelity means faithful, suggesting the faith-based nature of this band, which plays lots of gospel music. It also, along with the word High, suggests a quality of sound above the normal, which High Fidelity demonstrates with their instrumental and vocal versatility. 

Jeremy Stephens

Corrina Rose Logston


Kurt Stephenson

Vickie Vaughn 

High Fidelity - We Sat Between the Maple on the Hill




Sister Sadie

Sister Sadie, nominated for IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year this year, has been one of the most appreciated performers at Delaware Valley since their debut there four years ago. Drawing on the deep and varied experiences of its five members and featuring five time Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley, these five women are musically superb, funny, engaging, and interesting. Ask your local promoter to book them. 

Dale Ann Bradley

Tina Adair


Gena Britt


Deanie Richardson


Beth Lawrence

Sister Sadie - No Smokey Mountains in TN



The Quebe Sisters

The Quebe Sisters, three close harmony fiddle players from Texas specializing in western swing music, sing and play impeccably, recreating music reminiscent of groups like the Andrews Sisters of the 1940's and 50's. Traditional swing music driven by excellent fiddle play and close harmony singing have had significant influence on the development of bluegrass music. 

Grace Quebe
 

Sophia Quebe

Hulda Quebe

The Quebe Sisters - Teardrops from My Eyes



The Earls of Leicester
6

The Earls of Leicester, put together by Jerry Douglas, succeed in re-creating the look and feel of Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys during the period from the late fifties until 1965 with remarkable accuracy and wit. It would be too easy to dismiss this high impact, star-filled band as a Flatt and Scruggs cover band. Instead, they drop in and out of roles, with each member contributing his own character to that of the band the emulate. Attending one of their performances gives at least a sense of the impact the original band had on audiences experiencing it for the first time. 

Jerry Douglas

Sean  Camp

Johnny Warren

Jeff White

Charlie Cushman


Barry Bales

White, Bales, and Camp

Warren, Douglas, Camp 


Earls of Leicester - I'm Gonna Sleeop with One Eye Open

At the Merch Table

Sunday
Kids Academy Dress Rehearsal


Sunday morning at Delaware Valley is devoted to the kids. Kids Academy, The Cab Calloway  School of the Arts, and this year, Cane Mill Road, a young band of kids who came up in the well-known JAMS (Junior Appalachian Musicians) program of central Appalachia. These serious commitments show results, as demonstrated in the appearance of Uncle Sam, a group of Cab Calloway graduates and upper class student who showed their progress.

Stephen Field with Cab Calloway Students

Kids Academy Staff
Ira Gitlin - Director

The Kids Academy Staff gives up lots of time, energy, and their own jamming to help kids learn how bluegrass works. Everyone who follows bluegrass knows musicians who started in Kids Academy. 

Sara Larsen

Tara Kubgardt

Patsy Cline

Kids Academy


Delaware Valley Kids Academy - Black Eyed Suzie

Stephen Field - Cab Calloway School of the Arts

The Cab Calloway School of the Arts is a public high school in Wilmington DE devoted to fine arts in a variety of forms. Bluegrass is a club offering that Stephen Field, recently retired teacher there, has nurtured and developed through the years. The performances of the large developmental group, as well as a group of recent graduates and current students calling themselves "Uncle Sam" suggest the power of traditional music to motivate students who wish to explore a range of traditional and developmental models of music performance. 

Cab Calloway School of the Arts

Uncle Sam

Uncle Sam

Cane Mill Road



Cane Mill Road traces its origins to Deep Gap, NC, the home of Doc Watson, and to the JAMS program, which has supported traditional mountain music in the schools of Appalachia since 2008. While JAMS' goals are not to develop professional musicians, it's inevitable that some participants will be introduced to the program in traditional musical arts and interpret what they learn through the music filling their environment. The magic of Cane Mill Road lies in their ability to remain connected with their traditional roots while bringing contemporary musical idioms into their music.  

Liam Purcell


Trajan (Tray) Wellington

Eliot Smith

Casey Lewis

Cane Mill Road - Sittin' on Top of the World




Po' Ramblin' Boys


The Po' Ramblin' Boys emerged out of the tourist attraction of bluegrass bands performing throughout the day at the Old Smokey Moonshine Distillery in Sevier, TN, whichh  has developed a reputation of developing first rate bluegrass bands to add to the world of touring bands. By playing a number of performances during the day, the bands become tighter, more skilled, and achieve greater polish. The Po' Ramblin' Boys, inspired by the music of the Stanley Brothers, have gained a wider audience during the past couple of years, and are nominated as IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year for 2018. Fronted, by C.J. Lewandowski, familiar for his performances with a number of well-known touring bands, the band was at the top of its game at Delaware Valley. 

C.J. Lewandowski

Josh Rinkle


Jerome Brown


Jasper Lorentson

Lewandowski, Brown & Rinkle

Po' Ramblin' Boys - Late Last Night


Festival Director  Carl Goldstein & Emcee Katy Daley

Mick Kinney & the Hickhoppers

Old Time bands are often quiet and under-publicized. Mick Kinney, from Georgia, is hardly a presence at all, but for aficionados of this genre, he's the real deal. According to the bio in the John C. C. Campbell Folk School web site, "A native of Wisconsin, Mick has made his home in Atlanta since 1977. He currently tours with multi-lingual chanteuse Elise Witt, as well as with his swing string band, the Gypsy Hicks, and his old-time band, the Georgia Crackers. He teaches fiddle, piano, guitar, banjo, and music theory workshops regionally and is a recipient of the Georgia Council for the Arts Folklife Grant."has made his home in Atlanta since 1977. He currently tours with multi-lingual 

Mick Kinney & the Hickhoppers - Stockade Blues

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers delivered one of their better shows at Delaware Valley, offering a mix of themes and textures typical of their varied song choices. Chris's songs are often laced with humor, even a little satire, while bassist Jon Weisberger is one of the busiest song writers in Nashville. Gena Furtado has added her elegant banjo style to this band, helping it create a new, and more pleasing sound. I wished they'd had two sets.

Chris Jones

Jon Weisberger

Mark Stoffel

Gena Furtado

Seldom Scene

There's no time at a bluegrass festival when a single set provides enough time for Seldom Scene's audience to get their fill. This is particularly true this year, with Ron Stewart's addition to this storied band's lineup, which has been pretty well fixed for years, except for the left end after Ben Eldridge's retirement. Stewart brings years of superior banjo and fiddle play, as well as some new interpretive twists to The Scene's sound. The set contained lots of the crowd favorites to a crowd well-acquainted with the sound and spirit of The Seldom Scene.

Dudley Connell
Photo - Pris Warnock

Lou Reid

Ronnie Simpkins

Fred Travers

Ron Stewart

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

It must be difficult to close a big, important festival late on Sunday afternoon of Labor Day Weekend. The crowd is tired...ready to start cleaning up and heading  home. Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver stepped up to the challenge, and once again gave a rousing performance to close the event. Nominated for IBMA Entertainer of the Year, an award that has eluded him among all the recognition the band has received, despite having been named Vocal Group of the Year seven times. Doyle, a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame, served his apprenticeship with the best - Jimmy Martin, J.D. Crowe & the New South, and The Country Gentlemen, before forming his own band, which soon became Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Now in its thirty-seventh year, Quicksilver has seen some of bluegrass music's most acclaimed artists come through the band. The training they received while playing for Doyle has become known as The Doyle Lawson School of Bluegrass. Always fast paced, well-rehearsed, and solidly disciplined, the group is a model for combining classic bluegrass music with lots of gospel and many contemporary songs introduced by the band. It's one of the most acclaimed bands in bluegrass history. 

Josh Swift

Joe Dean

Eli Johnston

Dustin Pyrtle

Stepen Burwell

As the sun began to sink after a Sunday filled with musical variety, the volunteers swarmed the grounds intent on leaving them cleaner than when we had all arrived a few days before. The end of a festival always has a bitter-sweet feeling to it. This festival, however, has an even more poignant atmosphere to it, as this is the last event of the busy bluegrass summer. While there will be some wonderful Fall festivals, the excitement of IBMA's World of Bluegrass, and, these days, indoor events around the calendar, summer is over. The days are growing shorter, but our memories will stretch out over the months as we remember the season, culminating with the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival