Friday, September 17, 2010

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival - Kodak, TN - Thursday

Dumplin' Valley Farm RV Park is the home for the Dumplin' Valley Bluegrass Festival.  Located just off I-40 and about fifteen miles from the hurly-burly of Pigeon Forge, the festival site appears bucolic and rural while being less than two miles from Bass Pro Shop and a Cracker Barrel restaurant.  The open, rolling site focuses on an old barn that's been retrofitted to provide a wide, well-lighted stage and plenty of covered seating.  It provides an almost ideal location for a festival.  Promoters Joe and Mitzi Soward by developing the site thoughtfully as well as providing a very strong three day lineup have created a first rate festival.

The Wednesday Pot Luck

Campers on-site by Wednesday afternoon were treated to a beans and cornbread pot-luck supper.  A hungry and festive crowd provided a tasty and varied selection of entrees, salads, and desserts to complement the beans, cornbread, and beverages from the festival itself.  There was plenty of food to go around and plenty of willing eaters.

Thursday dawned bright and warm with a suggestion that there might be rain in the offing.  The Sowards must have control of the faucet, however, as the rain, except for a brief, light shower, held off until after Dailey & Vincent closed the evening.  Then the skies let loose with a significant amount of rain during the night.  By Friday morning, it was clear and warm again. 

Next Best Thing

All the members of Next Best Thing are young, energetic, and enthusiastic.  They've been helped to move into festival lineups through the support of Sally and Tensel Sandker's mother, Rhonda Vincent, but are about ready to stand on their own.  The addition of eighteen year old Michael Morrison, a fine flat-picker and harmony singer on guitar, has helped balance the age of this young band while not diminishing the skill.  This was his first performance with the band.  Sally and Tensel have continued their growth as emcees and as singers.  With continued hard work, this band can succeed.

Sally Sandker Berry

Tensel Sandker

Brent Burke

Haley Stiltner

Michael Morrison

Sally & Tensel

Jamming at Dumplin' Valley


G2 is a Swedish bluegrass band that showcased at IBMA last year and has been on a three month long tour of the U.S. and Canada this summer.  The three months of touring and working hard this year has tightened the band from their already good previous work to becoming a very fine band.  Their name, short for 2nd Generation, grows from their parents all having played country a bluegrass when the band's members were growing up.  While their music is strongly influenced by progressive bands, this group has paid attention to bluegrass history, including songs by Bill Monroe and Jimmy Martin in their set list. The play plenty of covers, but are distinguished by their original work featuring Chris Olsson's prolific song writing.  G2 will be touring in the U.S. again and deserves your attention when you get the chance to see them.

Christoffer Olsson

Jens Koch

Eric Igglestrom

Tobias Stromberg

Jimmy Sunnebrant

Where the Tall Grass Grows by Chris Olsson
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Brand New Strings

Brand New Strings is a relatively new band growing out of the rich bluegrass environment in East Tennessee.  They have moved from competing at fiddler's conventions to a Rural Rhythm Records recording contract and plenty of air play on Sirius/XM radio in just a few short years.  They play mostly classic bluegrass and gospel covers and include an increasing number of original material in their program.  Their feature first rate musicianship and strong vocal harmonies.
Randall Massengill

Mike Ramsey

Stuart Wyrick

Tim Tipton

Preston Schmidt

Joe Soward Sits In 

Uncle Darrin

Paul Williams & the Victory Trio

After a long career in bluegrass, Paul Williams took several years off from the road before returning with an all gospel band.  His pure tenor voice, sometimes sounding very Irish to fit with his almost Leprechaunish looks, communicates his deep faith and commitment to proselytizing through his music.

Paul Williams

Dan Moneyhun

 Adam Winstead

Jerry Keys

Susie Keys

Dailey & Vincent

Audience responses say it all.  When Dailey & Vincent appear, their audience cheers them long and hard. Their program, consisting of bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, southern gospel, and Statler Brothers material from their current Cracker Barrel CD are a mix of genres and sounds the audience appreciates and rewards.  Their a cappella quartet features close harmonies and dramatic poses.  The addition of basso profundo Christian Davis packs and emotional as well as musical punch.  Their comedy, which has become increasingly spontaneous as they have gained confidence in their approach is fun and keeps their performances moving along.  Recently we have seen them present one long set, often closing at night, which is an ideal format for their program.  Last night, they performed for nearly two hours of high energy, high quality entertainment.

Jamie Dailey

Darin Vincent

Jeff Parker

 Joe Dean, Jr.

Christian Davis

Jesse Stockman

The Gospel Quartet