Thursday, February 24, 2011

Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival - Folkston, GA - Preview

Entrance to Newell Lodge

The Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival will run on March 11 and 12 at Newell Lodge in Folkston, GA.  Featuring three excellent emerging national bands, a well-established regional band, and two more local groups, this new festival represents a good stopping off place for snobirds on their way north as well as bluegrass fans from North Florida and Georgia to experience well-produced bluegrass music in a comfortable setting with high end production values.  The facility has constructed a fine new stage and provides a local snack bar.  Other vendors have been recruited.  Robert Wilson and his son Clint, who have wide experience in performance and sound production are producing the event for the owners of Newell Lodge. 

The Stage

The stage is located in a pleasant grove of live oak trees providing plenty of shade as spring begins to turn south Georgia warm. 

Newell Lodge currently offers plenty of room for dry camping and a dump station. By the scheduled October festival, mnagement expects to have water and electric sites available. It also provides six comfortable cabins for rental.

Newell Lodge Cabin

The Bathroom Cabin

 Several campgrounds are located within a comfortable distance for people planning to attend The Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival.

The Performers
The Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival represents a first effort by new promoters.  As such it is choosing to offer a modest one and a half day program featuring emerging bands of great promise as well as some local bands well-known to bluegrass fans in the area.  
Darin & Brooke Aldridge

It's hard to believe this delightful duo has only been on the road for a couple of years. During that time they have garnered increasing amounts of attention by releasing two well-received CD's, appearing with Kyle Cantrell on Sirius/XM radio for a Track-by-Track program, showcasing at IBMA, appearing at major festivals, and being nominated for a range of awards.  Darin Aldridge toured while still quite young with fabled The Country Gentlemen as well as with the Circuit Riders.  Fittingly, he met Brooke Justice in a church where they were both singing.  Their musical fit turned into a romance; they've been married a little over two years.  They've surrounded themselves with a very strong band of accomplished musicians, capping this off with the addition of Rachel Renee Johnson on fiddle last fall.  This is a don't miss band whose personal love shines through their singing as deeply as does their religious faith.

Rachel Renee Johnson

 Eddie Biggerstaff

Perry Woodie

Chris Bryant

Blue Moon Rising
Blue Moon Rising was recognized as an up-and-coming band when it won the Emerging Artist of the Year from the International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) in 2005.  The band released several well received CD's including "This Old Martin Box Guitar," which is well on its way to becoming a standard.

This Old Martin Box Guitar - Blue Moon Rising - Video

While being a band that maintains a limited touring schedule, Blue Moon Rising has achieved widespread fan approval.  In the past year, the three members left the band for other opportunities, leaving founder Chris West to decide whether to continue or not.  He decided to go on, and here's what he says, "The new band kinda magically came together just at the right time and the new record is the one that I'm most proud of. The new members retain the band's signature sound while forging new ground.  West is one of the finest singer/songwriters in bluegrass today.  We particularly like his song "The Hanging Tree," but there are so many it's hard to pick one.

Chris West
 Facebook Profile Picture

Facebook Profile Picture

Monroeville formed several months ago as a spin-off from another band.  Since then they have created significant buzz, showcasing at IBMA and appearing on national television.  While quite young, the six men in the band have considerable experience in bluegrass showing high levels of energy and commitment.  Here's a video sample of their work:

This is a band that looks to have a significant future.  You want to be one of the people who can say, "I saw them when they were fresh out of the gate and knew then...."

The Wilson Family Band
  Facebook Profile Photo
We first saw the Wilson Family Band five years ago when Katie and Clint were children singing with their Mom and Dad at the Spirit of Suwannee Bluegrass Festival near Live Oak, FL.  Irene brought them to my attention saying, "You HAVE to see this band."  As usual, she was right; I was captivated.  Since then, the children have grown and matured, while the band has gained recognition in the southeast while extending its range into the Carolinas and as far to the northwest as Louisville, KY.  Katie has bloomed as a fiddler while Clint is becoming recognized as a song writer of unusual promise.  The band is a festival and church favorite in North Florida and Southeast Georgia and has gained a strong following in the Myrtle Beach area, too.

Robert Wilson

Melissa Wilson

Clint Wilson

Katie Wilson

 Bruce Sheriden

Tomorrow's News
Facebook Profile Photo

Tomorrow's News began life as a family band primarily oriented to bluegrass gospel music, where they continue to devote much of their energy.  However, driven by the interests and enthusiasms of seventeen year old Kalyn and her younger brother Bryce, they have broadened their repertoire, adding southern gospel and pop influences as well as changing personnel and becoming increasingly professional.  Look for Kalyn Hall and Clint Wilson to sing together during the Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival, too.

Victor & Malieka Hall



Trinity River (The Harris Family)  and Mill Train, both local bands from southeast Georgia will also be appearing.  Here's ticket information for the Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival:

Friday: $15
Saturday: $25
Weekend: $35
*Weekend Advance: $30

*Call 912-496-2838 or email to order advanced tickets.
*Until 3/1/11

How to Get to Newell Lodge

View Larger Map 

Newell Lodge is a small, comprehensive resort in Folkston, GA with an emphasis on horseback riding and serving as a convenient destination or getaway location.  Owners Kay and Harvin Carter have enlisted the efforts of Robert and Clint Wilson to produce the first of what proposes to be two annual festivals at their facility.  Their initial effort is promising and deserves the support of bluegrass fans. Because of its convenient location, snowbirds beginning to head home might want to consider a night or two's stop here on their way north, while local people will find it convenient and attractive.