Monday, September 6, 2010

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival - Kodak, TN - Preview

The Dumplin' Valley Bluegrass Festival will run at the Dumplin' Valley Farm RV Park in Kodak, TN from September 16 - 18 with a high powered lineup of national headliners as well as strong support from strong regional and a very good visiting bluegrass band from Sweden.  Headliners include IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) award nominees Dailey & Vincent, IIIrd Tyme Out, The Grascals, and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.  The ever popular Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and the Lonesome River Band will also perform.  Promoters Joe and Mitzi Soward have established a reputation for putting on a first rate festival twice a year at their year round campground in Kodak.  We haven't attended Dumplin' Valley before, and I want to thank W.A. Pate for providing photos to help me. 

The Campground

All campsites at Dumplin' Valley have been reserved, and there is currently a waiting list.  But I'm told the recommended festival hotel, the Quality Inn in Kodak still has openings at the festival discount price.  In addtion, there area number of campgrounds in nearby Sevierville.  The date for advanced tickets have passed, but a three day ticket may be bought at the gate for $80.00 and their are a variety of day ticket prices.

Three bands will be making their Dumplin' Valley debuts at this year's fall festival.  The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band has making a big impression at festivals up and down the East Coast.  They have rapidly moved from being a regional, primarily gospel band to a rising national band performing from Connecticut to Florida.  They will be much in evidence at showcases during IBMA later in September.  Their new self-titled CD was featured on a track-by-track with Kyle Cantrell on Sirius/Xm radio.  The Next Best Thing, featuring Sally Sandker Berry and Tensel Sandker, recently graduated from East Tennessee State, have also been performing more widely during this festival season.  Brand New Strings, a band we haven't yet seen. They currently have a new CD out with Rural Rhythm records.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Sally Berry Sandker & Tensel Sandker (Next Best Thing)

G2 from Sweden

The Schedule         
Noon:  Next Best Thing
1pm:    G2
2pm:   Brand New Strings
3pm:   Paul Williams & Victory Trio
4pm-5:30pm: supper break
5:30pm:  Next Best Thing
6:30pm:  G2
7:30pm:  Brand New Strings
8:30pm:  Paul Williams & Victory Trio
9:30pm:  Dailey & Vincent

Paul Williams

Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent

The Dailey & Vincent Gospel Quartet
Noon: Shadow Ridge
1pm:  Balsam Range
2pm:  James King Band
3pm:  Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out
4pm:  Rhonda Vincent & The Rage
5pm-6pm: supper break
6pm:  Shadow Ridge
7pm:  Balsam Range
8pm:  James King Band
9pm:  Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out
10pm: Rhonda Vincent & The Rage

Marc Pruett  (Balsam Range)

Buddy Melton  (Balsam Range)

Noon: Darrin & Brooke Aldridge
1pm:  Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
2pm:  Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier
3pm:  The Grascals
4pm:  Lonesome River Band
5pm-6pm: supper break
6pm:  Darrin & Brooke Aldridge
7pm:  Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
8pm:  Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier
9pm:  The Grascals
10pm: Lonesome River Band

Mike Cleveland

Jesse Brock  (Mike Cleveland & Flamekeeper)
Jamie Johnson & Terry Smith of the Grascals

Kristin Scott Benson (Grascals)

Sammy Shelor (Lonesome River Band)

Brandon Rickman & Andy Ball (Lonesome River Band)
Traditionally at Dumplin' Valley, Thursday has been devoted to offering local middle school students an opportunity to come to the festival, experience bluegrass music, and learn about the place of the music in their mountain culture.  Recent cutbacks in schools' funding of field trips have forced the festival to re-evaluate this program.  Their response has been a decision to take bluegrass to the schools.  The plan is to continue to see that acoustic instruments are given to selected schools each year while Dumplin' Valley will sponsor visits to schools by bluegrass bands who will demonstrate the music and help students understand it as a part of their lives extending way beyond their stereotypes of "hillbilly" music.  Such efforts to support Bluegrass in the Schools programs pioneered by IBMA, the International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY, and Merlefest deserve support from all people wishing to see bluegrass grow and thrive.

Dumplin' Valley traditionally begins on Wednesday evening with a pot luck supper for campers already on the site, beans and cornbread provided by the hosts.  Sounds like a good way to kick off a first rate festival to me.  Here's how you get there:

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Joe and Mitzi Soward - Promoters