Monday, March 30, 2009

Carolina Road Homecoming - Review

Lorraine Jordan - Our Hostess

Lorraine's Parents - Royce and Janice

In many ways the Carolina Road Homecoming Bluegrass Festival functions as a family reunion as much as it does a musical event. Promoter Lorraine Jordan brings together a pretty large number of local and regional bluegrass bands for what functions as a showcase for the many promoters from the region who show up for this event. Lorraine’s loyalty to her many friends can be seen in the bands she invites, the active participation of her fan club as volunteers, the social climate of the festival, and the generally high quality of the music. Both today’s and tomorrow’s reports will include more pictures than words, but if festival means having a great time (festive) with old and new friends while engaging in a pastime enjoyed by all who decided to attend, then we had a festival. As the weekend wore on, perhaps more people could be found in the hallways and meeting rooms than in the audience at times, but they were sharing together in the fellowship of a bluegrass community coming off a winter of relative quiet and moving into a spring and summer of making and hearing fine music together. Who could ask for more?

Chris Jobe & Jordan

Chris Jobe

Jordan Young

Miz Bertie Sullivan & Lorraine

Bertie Sullivan is the promoter of a small and fabled festival held in Leaksville, Mississippi. She was a lively presence at the Homecoming, as well as the host of the Band Family Feud. A close eye kept on her small table at the rear of the performance area revealed her importance here through the number of people who took time to sit and chat with her.

Tami Butler (Mrs. Jerry) & Irene Lehmann

Shiela Talbert (Fan Extrodinaire)

Nixon, Blevins & Gage with Bill McDonald

The Larry Gillis Band

Evan Rose & Alex Leach
Larry playing claw hammer banjo

Emcee Sweet Brenda Lawson & Frances Mooney
Clog to Larry's Claw Hammer

Ben Greene - Carolina Road banjo

Frances Mooney & Fontana Sunset

Frances Mooney

Mark Mundy

The pleasure of hearing Frances Mooney sing is increased because it is so clearly her own unique and strong voice. There's no effort to look or sound like Rhonda Vincent or Alison Kraus here, just the real thing right out of Georgia. After more than forty years playing bluegrass music, Frances has begun to gain the recognition she long deserved as a member of the Daughters of Bluegrass as well as fronting her own very good band, Fontana Sunset.

Frances Mooney at Merch Table

The Blu - J's

Jerry Butler, lead singer for Carolina Road joined by band mates John Wade and Josh Goforth along with other pickers who all have first names starting with J played an enjoyable set. Jerry has been working on a solo project with John Wade featuring some of bluegrass music's brightest lights and consisting of a collection of truck songs. Watch for it.

Constant Change

Dan Wales (formerly of Carolina Road)

Daniel Aldridge & Clifton Preddy

Band Feud Game
This interlude pitted Carolina Road against Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion
in a take-off of Family Feud, as seen on TV. Lots of fun was had by all.

Carolina Road Team

Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion Team

Al Batten, Bertie Sullivan (Quizmistress) & Lorrain Jordan

Note the piles of stuffed animals along the front of the stage. These were used as decorations throughout the festival and donated to the Shrine Hospital in South Carolina along with donations left on the pile. What a terrific idea as well as a welcome change from the usual pots of geraniums borrowed or rented from local florists.

Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion

Nothing can capture the spirit of this even more than what can be seen in a few of these pictures. Above, Nathan Aldredge on fiddle, plays with his father Mike Aldridge on mandolin. Two of Mike's older sons are both members of Constant Change, which also appeared on Friday. Below you'll see pictures of fiddler Johnny Ridge with his grandaughter Kendall singing with the band. Bluegrass has long been a family affair. The Carolina Road Homecoming exemplfies this spirit with both a narrow and a broader conceptualization of the word "Family."

Al Batten

Mike Aldridge & Johnny Ridge

Kendall (Sugarfoot)

Johnny Ridge and Kendall

Carolina Road & Friends

Lorraine Jordan

Jerry Butler

Sami Butler
Ben Greene

John Wade

Happy Birthday, John!

Josh Goforth

Josh & John

John gets his first anniversary with Carolina Road watch

Lorraine, Ben & Jerry

Lorraine, Frances Mooney & Annette Kelley
Daughters of Bluegrass

Throughout the day, there was a festive feel to the Homecoming that prevailed throughout the two days. Tomorrow I'll post pictures and some text from Satuday.