Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road Homecoming - Preview

Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road
Lorraine Jordan and the Carolina Road Band will host their Homecoming Bluegrass Festival on March 28 and 29, 2008 at the Ramada Inn in Burlington, NC. While this festival serves primarily as a showcase for bands from North Carolina it will also present a selection of excellent bands from a wider geographical area. Lorraine tells me it’s called a homecoming because of the friendly reception and sense of reunion the festival embodies. This event provides fans and promoters an opportunity to view bands from the region as well further afield to preview bands, hire them, and make decisions about both hiring and festival attendance. The indoor festival opens the spring bluegrass season in North Carolina and offers a lot of diversity for fans of traditional bluegrass and gospel.
Remington Ryde

David Davis

Anita Fisher

Deeper Shade of Blue
Bands on Thursday from outside the region include Remington Ryde from Pennsylvania and David Davis and the Warrior River Boys from Alabama. Davis’ band is known for its hard driving Monroe style picking and Davis’ soulful voice. Davis version of “Chancellorsville” is a heart rending telling of Stonewall Jackson’s death from friendly fire. Owen Saunders is a standout on fiddle. Remington Ryde plays mostly in Pennsylvania and neighboring states, so this event will give them broader exposure. The cuts on their web site suggest solid and traditional bluegrass. The Anita Fisher Band, featuring Ray Deaton, which hails from Georgia, will also be featured. This band is receiving wider play in recent months as folks become accustomed to Ray’s no longer being a member of IIrd Tyme Out, the band he founded. Deeper Shade of Blue plays a solid mix of gospel and traditional bluegrass. Each of the bands above will be playing two sets on Friday.
Grass Street

Carolina Junction

Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion

Johnny Ridge (Bluegrass Reunion)

In addition, Blue ‘No’ More, Boys from Carolina, Grass Street, and Carolina Junction will each play a full set. The ever popular Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion will be playing a set on both Friday and Saturday. We’ve seen Batten in Florida as well as North Carolina. He’s a popular mainstay in his home state. Fiddler Johnny Ridge is a particular standout. These five bands are all from North Carolina and have strong regional backing and experience. They are seasoned bands who will delight fans of traditional bluegrass. Carolina Junction is a young band which aspires to a wider audience. Playing a somewhat more eclectic mix of music, they deserve watching. I highlighted them in my blog after their appearance at White Oak Shores last October. I could find no information on-line about Blue ‘No’ More. It’s truly important these days for bands to have at least a MySpace presence to help fans and festival organizers become familiar with them.

Constant Change

Jr. Sisk

Carolina Sonshine

James King
Saturday also features a strong list of regional bands as well as several national bands and a couple in the process of making the transition to a larger and wider audience. Crossroads is a California band playing largely gospel music, while the Fritts Family hails from Tennessee and also specializes in gospel music. Red and Donna, Chris Jobe, and Constant Change, are bands primarily known in North Carolina. The Grass Cats are another North Carolina band with a rising national reputation bolstered by a showcase appearance at IBMA and lots of recent play on XM radio. They’ll be offering one set at 8:15 on Saturday. Some higher profile bands will be playing two sets on Saturday. Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice has recently signed a recording contract with Rebel Records. Junior spent a number of years as lead singer with Blueridge. Long recognized as one of the finest tenor singers in bluegrass, he has recently re-established his band. The range and diversity of his touring schedule attests to the happiness among bluegrass people to see his band back on the road. Carolina Sonshine, long an established gospel band in the Low Country has stepped up in the last couple of years, appearing at more widespread events as well as on the Bell Buckle Bluegrass Cruise. The storied James King Band will perform a single long set at 9:15 on Saturday evening. King has been named SPBGMA traditional male singer of the year seven times. He’s particularly noted for the soulfulness of his singing in which he often becomes so involved the tears flow. Festival hosts Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road will close out the festival on Saturday night with another set of their hard driving, traditional bluegrass. Carolina Road has improved steadily during the three years we’ve been watching them. The band Lorraine has assembled and toured with for the past year or so is the best she has had. Balanced and strong at every position, Carolina Road specializes in Monroe style bluegrass and sets a standard for the other bands performing at this festival.

Lorraine Jordan

Benny Greene (Carolina Road)

Jerry Butler (Carolina Road)

The Ramada Inn is conveniently located at 2703 Ramada Road, Burlington, NC 27215 and can be reached by phone at (336) 227-5541. There will be plenty of room provided for workshops and jamming. Promoters wishing to see regional bands from North Carolina and surrounding states as well as fans tired of the long winter, will welcome this homecoming festival jam-packed with fine bands.

Owen Saunders and David Davis

Ray Deaton

Wayne Kinton (Grass Street)

Jason Johnson (Constant Change)

Dennis Cash (Carolina Sonshine)

Danny Stanley (Carolina Sonshine)

Kevin Prater (James King Band)

Josh Goforth (Carolina Road)

Todd Meade (Carolina Road)