While the work for us, as volunteers, begins on Wednesday, Jennings begins work on next year's festival a few days after this year's ends. Several years ago, Bluegrass on the Waccamaw became a 501 (c)3 non-profit organization because of its contributions to the bluegrass community of low country South Carolina and the folk culture of Horry County and Conway. In order to continue making bluegrass music available to those who otherwise might not be able to attend a bluegrass festival, Jennings must raise money all year round in the form of grants and contributions.
The Old Peanut Warehouse, built sometime in the nineteenth century, is a wonderful old wood frame building with a spacious interior and a porch, ideal for bluegrass performance, from which the late South Carolina senator Strom Thurmond once gave a speech. The inside of the building is used for a benefit supper and musical showcase on Friday night before the festival and on Saturday serves as the staging area for the bands ans well as the home of a justly famed buffet table for bands, their families, and staff members.
As dinner time approaches on Friday evening, the band arrives, the caterer delivers the food, and a sense of excitement begins to grow. This evening's showcase band will be the Darin & Brooke Aldridge Quintet. Darin is familiar to many in this audience through his previous association with Charlie Waller and The Country Gentlemen as well as its successor band, The Circuit Riders, who have appeared previously at Bluegrass on the Waccamaw. This is his first appearance here with his wife and their new gospel band. Meanwhile, Larry Dickerson, who owns a couple of local restaurants, has delivered the Chicken Bog dinner, and people are beginning to arrive.
Darin & Brooke
Saturday dawns clear and warm with the promise of a very hot day to come. A slight breeze offers relief from the heat, but it's going to be a hot one with plenty of good music to keep things warm.
Nothing every happens by coincidence at Bluegrass on the Waccamaw, so it makes a lot of sense that the Snyder Family Band follows the student musicians. Zeb and Samantha Snyder (13 and 10) are young in age but seasoned in experience and way beyond counting in skill. They have won contests and performed for several years. As Zeb moves into adolescence, his picking has the maturity of a man twice his age. Samantha's fiddling is already maturing, and her voice will come along with age. Professional musicians come out from back stage to hear them play and adults want to be in pictures with them. Impressive!
For some time it's been obvious that Little Roy Lewis' sisters would not be able to continue to perform for much longer. That time has, sadly, arrived, and Polly, suffering from severe deterioration, her elder sister Miggie, and Janice have retired from the road. Meanwhile, Lizzy Long, has recorded with Little Roy and Earl Scruggs, and is now beginning to tour with her own band, now featuring Little Roy Lewis. Lizzy plays a variety of instruments and has added her twin sister Rebekah on bass, as well as Ricky Rakestraw on guitar and Doug Flowers on mandolin and harmony vocals. The band is solid and the addition of Little Roy makes them entertaining. They're off to a good start and have picked up many of the dates the Lewis Family was forced to abandon.
Grasstowne has now been on the scene for a little over two years. They've established a reputation for impeccable musicianship and excited audiences with their skill and soul. Alan Bibey may be one of the best mandolin players in the world, not just in bluegrass, but in a range of genres. Phil Leadbetter has won awards as Dobro player of the year from both IBMA and SPBGMA. Steve Gulley is recognized as one of the top singers in the music, as well as a talented producer, and IBMA award winning song writer. Along with the extremely talented young Jason Davis on banjo and the recently added Travis Greer on bass, they're a force to be reckoned with. Their new CD is in final production, and should hit the streets sometime this summer or early fall.
Jennings Presents a Photograph and Commemorative T-Shirts
Phyllis Springs, Her Daughter, and Rocky's Sisters
The Larry Stephenson Band has established a record of high quality and good entertainment over the years. Larry's pure tenor voice is one of the very best. He's recently been joined by veteran banjo great Kenny Ingram and young Kevin Richardson, a hot picking guitarist. Micheal Faegan, formerly of the Larry Sparks Band, has joined Stephenson on fiddle and Kyle Perkins remains steady as a rock on bass. This excellent band closed Bluegrass on the Waccamaw for the year.