Monday, January 26, 2009

YeeHaw Junction - Sunday

There's a certain sadness on Sunday's at most bluegrass festivals. The community is packing up, dissolving, returning home, or moving to the next event. Rigs move slowly towards the exit, raising clouds of dust, no matter how slowly they move along. Others stay until the event winds down to a few diehard fans, many of whom wait until Monday morning to finally pack up and leave. Promoters are faced with the problem of providing an entertaining program to a diminished and often tired audience. Sunday morning is usually devoted to some sort of woship service and bands playing bluegrass gospel, a favorite sub-genre for many devotees.

Word had arrived at YeeHaw Junction that Mary Robinson had fallen ill. Mike and Mary Robinson would not be able to conduct their Bluegrass Gospel Sing and Jam on Sunday morning. Their place was ably taken by Jan and Larry Ladd ably abetted by Maggie and Bill Anderson. The singing was enthusiastic, the message thoughtful and supportive, and the hour successful. (Shortly after our arrival at Highlands Hammock State Park on Monday afternoon, we drove past the gate and Irene saw a motor home she thought she recognized. There was Mike Robinson in the office. Later, we saw Mary who looked healthy, although a little tired. She is recuperating well from some undiagnosed event. They will be holding forth at Craig's RV in Arcadia this coming weekend.)

Bill and Maggie Anderson then followed with an all gospel set. This engaging couple has relocated from their home near Ithaca, New York to the mountains of southwest Virginia, where they have burrowed deep into the rich musical life of that region. Bill, in addition to performing with his wife, is developing a reputation as an instrument builder to supplement his work in repair and restoration. Their mellow and tuneful sets are just the thing for a Sunday morning. Maggie's play on the Dobro is often haunting and powerful, while Bill's guitar is strong. Their voices blend well and the duo is quietly satisfying. Each group performing on Sunday, also had a second set in the afternoon.

Al Batten & The Bluegrass Reunion came through with their usual strong performances on Sunday. They're one of the few groups that can ably sustain four sets over a two day period. Although they repeated a few songs on request, their catalog is long and deep.

Ray LaMarche - 2009 Senior Fiddle Champion

I've posted a link to pictures of the fiddle championship finals here. This event is always interesting and entertaining. It provides young fiddlers a chance to cut their teeth under the pressure of public performance and gives senior fiddlers a chance to shine. Ray LaMarche, the 2009 champion was engaging and skilled in his performance. It's difficult for any aspiring fiddler to be followed by Johnny Ridge, though.

Two local groups filled out the day's performances. One performer, the banjo player for Palms Bluegrass stood out along with Robert Feathers on guitar with Bluegrass Stagecoach. Otherwise, I'm afraid I missed the rest of the names. Both these groups are well known to the Florida audience and were enthusiastically received by the remaining people.

Bluegrass Stagecoach

Palms Bluegrass

I've missed the names of a few of the performers above. If you can help me, please drop me a line at

A Fan

The New American Gothic