Welcome to my Blog. I write primarily about bluegrass music and the bluegrass experience. I also review books I read as well as offering road notes and travel entries. Come in and look around to see whether there's anything here for you. Be sure to check the archives and the labels. Please leave comments. I try to respond to all of them.
Friday, January 29, 2010
YeeHaw Junction - Tuesday to Thursday
The sign says it all for those looking for a long weekend of good music. A field has been cleared, and for the rest of the week a moving community will be in YeeHaw Junction to listen to and make music, visit, eat, and enjoy each other's company. The truck provides a subtle, but more powerful symbol. It's a 1946 Chevvy truck loaned to the promoters for the duration. In 1946 Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs joined Bill Monroe on the stage of the Grand Old Opry and what we now know as bluegrass music emerged. In that moment, a new music emerged fresh and exciting. Everyone who was there knew they were witnessing an important moment. Today, we hope the vibrancy and excitement can be retained and honored while we, as fans and sometime pickers ourselves, can be open to the contined evolution of the music while we continue to honor, revere, and perform the great work of its founders.
1946 Chevy Truck
Some Moments from Getting Ready
Steve Dittman hands off to Vic Hall
Pooper Scooper Duty
Waylon and Bryce Hall
Extremely Important Delivery
Moved to the Pasture Next Door
The Rigs Arrive and Get Ready
Line for Hog Barbecue Provided by Bass and Hall
...And the Food Was Much Appreciated
Bryce and Kayln Hall at Evening Jam
Thursday dawned bright and warm and only got better as the day went on. Camper rigs of various sizes continued to arrive and the camping area became more crowded as the community recreated itself. For the next two months it will be much like an amoeba, squeezing itself into new shapes and configurations as it moves from event to event throughout Florida before beginning to move north for bluegrass seasons around the country.
Thursday at many bluegrass festivals is often devoted to performances by local and regional bands, often ones who are favorites of people regularly attending the particular event. Since almost all the bands appearing last night at YeeHaw Junction will be performing several more times during the weekend, I haven't chosen to show all members of each band. Everyone will be covered by Sunday.
The Bluegrass Parlor Band
The Bluegrass Parlor Band has a storied history beginning with Tom Henderson's music shop, The Bluegrass Parlor, in Tampa. He began assembling young people for lessons in playing acoustic instruments and then created The Bluegrass Parlor Band to give those kids a chance to perform. Over the years, the Parlor Band has spawned a few noted professionals and lots of devoted pickers. With the closing of the Bluegrass Parlor, the spigot has been pretty much turned off and one has to wonder whether the band can continue much longer as Jarrod Walker follows his brother Cory off to college. Thursday's performance, with Parlor Band alumnus Scott Anderson on banjo and Jim White filling in on bass was more than satisfactory, but it also suggested the last seasons of the Parlor Band are sooner rather than later. Austin Wilder continues to develop as an excellent flat-picker and strong tenor singer, and Jarrod Walker is an emerging virtuoso on mandolin.
Jarrod and Austin
The Larry Gillis Band
The Georgia based Larry Gillis Band has continued to improve. The addition of eighteen year old David Doss on fiddle makes a significant contribution. The band, with Alex Leach as emcee, has become increasingly professional sounding without ever departing from its hard-edged Geogia sound.
Larry Playing Claw Hammer
The Wilson Family
The Wilson Family Band hails from Folkston, GA and is making its first appearance at YeeHaw Junction. A regional favorite in North Florida and Georgia, the band has also appeared in South Carolina and Alabama. Robert Wilson, who toured up and down the east coast during the eighties, and his wife Melissa, on mandolin, have nurtured two talented kids and drawn the whole together into a tightly knit and engaging band. Katie, 14, on fiddle continues to improve as her fiddling has gained tone and consistency while her voice has matured with more to come. Clint, a college student now, has largely taken over the band's emcee role as well as writing increasing numbers of songs for the band and playing first rate banjo. Melissa's work on the mandolin has improved mightily; her breaks are now interesting full-bodied. Robert Wilson's distinctive voice and personable style provide maturity and leadership. This band is always a pleasure to see and hear.
Highway 41 is the road running down the west side of Florida, also called the Tamiami Trail. Most of the members of this quite good cover band playing traditional bluegrass comes from along that highway. The band is entertaining, and Robert Feathers is an outstanding flat picker. More about them as the weekend moves along.
Host bands are sometimes figureheads, recruited by the real promoter to headline an event. At other times, performing as the host band at a festival serves the ego of the band. In the case of Tomorrow's News, neither of these motives holds. Promoters Keith Bass and Victor Hall are long time bluegrass pickers who have decided to take a shot at promoting. This band, featuring members of the Hall family with Bass on banjo is not only working hard to put on an excellent festival, they're providing real entertainment at their own event.
The Thursday crowd was large for a Thursday and enthusiastic for any night. From check-in to the kick-off by Preacher Mike Robinson doing the emcee work for the first couple of days, to the new festival banner and Madison Gibson's excellent sound, the signs are there to suggest that YeeHaw Junction is in good hands and the festival will be a rousing success.