Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road Homecoming BGF

Lorraine Jordan

The Carolina Road Homecoming Bluegrass Festival will be held March 27 and 28 at the Burlington, NC Ramada Inn. The flier can be found here and there’s information on it concerning reservations at the hotel as well as a nearby campground. Advance tickets for the event are $50 in advance and $60 at the gate. While some people prefer outdoor festivals, the Ramada Inn has a good performance room and a very nice space for vendors and jamming. Last year there was plenty of jamming available and hostess Lorraine Jordan and the folks in Carolina Road provided a welcoming and enjoyable environment. The lineup for this year’s festival will offer a very strong selection of North Carolina, Virginia, and Georgia bands. The headliner band, Danny Paisley and The Southern Grass have exploded into national prominence this year with the release of their first CD for Rounder Records. Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, one of the most reliable and hard working of national bands, can be counted on for fine performances as well as ready availability for both days of the event. The complete flier for this festival can be found here.
Lorraine Jordan, Ben Green, Jerry Butler

Josh Goforth
Host band, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road are one of the hardest working bands on the major band circuit. They appear from Alaska to Florida as well as many locations between. Founded by Lorraine Jordan in 1998, the current version is the strongest one yet. Featuring Josh Goforth, a talented multi-instrumentalist on fiddle and guitar (but not mandolin) as well as vocals and Jerry Butler as lead singer and on rhythm guitar, the band’s music is diverse and pleasing. The addition of Ben Green on banjo and, most recently, John Wade on bass has made the band extremely versatile and very solid. Every member sings, they all pick very well, and the obviously enjoy working together. Having been relieved of some of the responsibilities, Lorraine Jordan has been able to concentrate on her already good Monroe style mandolin and her tenor singing. The band is a constant pleasure to watch and listen to.
Dan Paisley

Bobby Lundy
T. J. Lundy

Michael Paisley

Travers Chandler
Danny Paisley & Southern Grass has taken a few years to coalesce after the loss of Dan Paisley’s father Bob. Now fully Danny’s band, they have emerged with a new Rounder CD “The Room Over Mine”, as a dynamo touring band. Paisley’s powerful high lonesome voice filled with emotion and sincerity sets the standard. Longtime band mates Bob and TJ Lundy on banjo and fiddle and Danny’s brother Michael on bass have long provided the musical core to this band. I’ll be very interested to see and hear how Travers Chandler, who joined the band about six weeks ago after the departure of Donnie Eldreth, contributes to their sound.

Al Batten

Dave Turnage

Mike Aldridge & Johnny Ridge
Al Batten & the Bluegrass Reunion is one of those bands that makes you wonder every time you hear them why they don't have a huge national reputation. They're highly skilled, very entertaining, and present hard-driving traditional bluegrass the way people like to hear it. The band has been around for about thirty years, mostly staying pretty close to home in North Carolina. All the members, as professional as they are, chose to keep their day jobs and stay close to home and family. Al Batten is a consistently entertaining emcee who keeps their show moving along. Johnny Ridge is one of the very best traditional bluegrass fiddlers in the business, a powerhouse who generates strength, a huge man who dwarfs his fiddle. Al Batten and his band are returning for another go round at this festival and will be enjoyable for everyone who attends.

photo T.M Watts

Code Blue is a Virginia based band billing itself as a traditional hard driving band specializing in bluegrass and gospel as well as their own music. They perform mostly in Virginia, and the Homecoming is their only scheduled appearance in North Carolina this year.

Big Country Bluegrass (promo picture)
Big Country Bluegrass is also a traditional bluegrass band whose members all come from along the North Carolina – Virginia border in the neighborhood of Galax. Founded by Teresa and Tommy Sells back in the 80’s, this band has had a close relationship to Jimmy Martin. Johnny Williams will be familiar to Jeanette Williams fans as they’re married and he performed with her for years. Lynwood Lunsford is well known to people on the “Bluegrass-L” and other Internet forums.
Carolina Sonshine

Dennis Cash, Danny Stanley, Tom Langdon

Danny Stanley
Carolina Sonshine has been increasingly visible beyond its North Carolina roots in recent years. Nominated three times for SPBGMA Gospel Group of the Year in each of the last three years, they also showcased at IBMA in 2006. The band’s appeal relies on three quality contribution – strong gospel music, fine covers of Country Gentlemen songs, and traditional bluegrass baggy pants comedy. Danny Stanley’s fine baritone voice in songs like “Matterhorn” and “Two Little Boys” are strongly reminiscent of Charlie Waller and his vocal impressions are spot on. The sincerity of Dennis Cash on vocals, mandolin, and as an emcee are evident. Tom Langdon, incidentally Lorraine Jordan’s husband, on banjo and resonator guitar as well as vocals is strong, while Wayne Ratley provides a rock solid beat on bass. This is an entertaining and uplifting band.

Roby Huffman & the Bluegrass Cutups

Roby Huffman

Roby Huffman and the Bluegrass Cutups have been around as a name since the 1950’s. Although disbanded a decade ago, Huffman has reconstituted them, and they provide a solid link to the early days of traditional bluegrass music. Steel Magnolia is a mostly “girl” band from North Carolina. Constant Change is a Raleigh-based bluegrass band which presents very reliable and enjoyable bluegrass. They are a young and energetic bluegrass band.

Frances Mooney & Fontana Sunset

Frances Mooney
Frances Mooney & Fontana Sunset provides traditional bluegrass with a Georgia tinge to it. Bassist and lead singer Frances Mooney has achieved increased prominence through her association with the very successful, IBMA award winning recordings of the Daughters of Bluegrass, a project featuring all women groupings first put together by Lorraine Jordan and now being ram-rodded by Dixie Hall.

The Larry Gillis Band

Larry Gillis

Evan Rose

Alex Leach
The Larry Gillis Band also originates in Georgia. The current version of this band features Gillis’ powerful three finger and Clawhammer banjo. Evan Rose on mandolin is a young virtuoso coming into his own, and Alex Leach on guitar does a fine job as band spokesman and plays lead guitar. He’s an emerging flatpicker, too. Rafe Waters plays bass. The Gillis band always provides lots of spirited picking.

Lorraine Jordan & Jerry Butler
The Carolina Road Homecoming Bluegrass Festival offers folks solid traditional bluegrass in a welcoming setting after long winter when the weather hasn’t quite become warm enough to go outside for music. It’s within comfortable distance for many bluegrass fans. As of March 18th, the Ramada Inn informed me there are still plenty of rooms available at a bargain rate of $63.00 per night, including one of the best buffet breakfasts available anywhere. If you’re free for the weekend of March 28 – 28 and want to spend some time with great traditional bluegrass music, the Carolina Road Homecoming Bluegrass Festival is the place to be.