Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Darin & Brooke Aldridge Bluegrass Festival - Cherryville, NC - Preview

Darin & Brooke Aldridge
The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Bluegrass Festival will have its second annual run at the Coot Williams Road festival grounds outside Cherryville, NC on April 1 and 2.  Headlined by the Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band, the host band, and bluegrass superband The Grascals, this small, but lively festival in a lovely rural location should attract bluegrass fans from throughout the region.  Darin & Brooke, the Bluegrass Sweethearts, have, over the past two years, had a remarkable rise as their fine harmonies and Brooke's exceptional lead singing have found a place in the hearts of fans across their increasingly wide ranging travels. Strong air play of their CD "Darin & Brooke Aldridge" on Serius/XM satellite radio has been complemented with play by local and Internet d.j.'s around the world.  Here at their home festival, you can get to know them better as well as hear almost all you want of their great singing. Meanwhile, The Grascals, only six years old, have expanded the bluegrass audience, bringing their high energy and explosive instrumental virtuosity to bluegrass and country music audiences everywhere.  Their work for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, appearances on television, at NASCAR tracks, and opening for established country music stars has reached out to new audiences everywhere.

Coot Williams Road - The Tent

John and Linda Hunsucker
 The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Festival will be held at the Coot Williams Road site in Cherryville, NC, owned and operated by Linda and John Hunsucker under the name of The Catawba Valley Music Revival, a non-profit corporation devoted to "promoting and preserving live music in the unifour and surrounding areas of North and South Carolina." In support of this goal the organization offers two festivals a year and hopes to support youth programs on its own property and in the area's schools.  While not offering any hookups, the site has plenty of room for rough camping.  The natural bowl holds a large tent, while a food shed and flush toilets and showers are available.  Vendors are well situated to serve attendees.  The Hunsuckers have been holding festivals on this site for several years, and have become increasingly adept at presenting events in a customer friendly fashion.

Food Shed

 Vendor's Row

Harold Bess's Ice Cream Wagon

The Bands
 This year the Darin & Brooke Aldridge Festival presents a well-rounded selection of national, regional, and local bands offering a solid variety of musical styles. Each band appearing has a unique appeal and distinctive sound. All together, they bring a range such that everyone attending will find plenty to be right in their strike zone while perhaps opening them to new sounds they'll appreciate, too.  The music for this small festival achieves remarkably high quality.

The Grascals

Since coming together as The Sidemen at the World Famous Station Inn in Nashville, about six years ago the Grascals have established an enviable record of recognition within the bluegrass world and in taking the music to audiences not previously exposed to it. The band was named IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year in 2005 and Entertainers of the Year in 2006 and 2007, while banjo player Kristin Scott Benson has been named Banjo Player of the Year for the past three years, a feat only achieved by three other banjo players in the history of the IBMA awards.  Their song "Me and John and Paul" was recognized as Song of the Year in 2005.  Their new CD "The Grascals and Friends," an offering at Cracker Barrel restaurants, is an exciting new crossover effort melding bluegrass and country music.
Jamie Johnson

Terry Eldredge

Danny Roberts

Terry Smith

Jeremy Abshire

Kristin Scott Benson

Balsam Range

Balsam Range in the past two or three years has moved from being primarily a regional band centered in Asheville, NC to a band of national importance which limits its appearances because all of its members continue to have other jobs. Despite their reluctance to tour aggressively, Balsam Range, through its recordings and widespread air play has attracted much attention and a few well-deserved nominations.  Their recent CD Trains I Missed and the song coming from it are truly wonderful. Their energy, singing, and playing come together to create an aura that listeners increasingly recognize. This is an opportunity to see an emerging band you'll be hearing about for years. Two standouts below, and I'll post pictures of the whole band in my review.

Buddy Melton

Darren Nicholson

Balsam Range -Trains I Missed - Video

The Harris Brothers
Reggie and Ryan Harris are little known outside their home of Lenoir, NC and their frequent performing venues in and around Asheville.  The Harris Brothers play an eclectic mix of blues, classic country, bluegrass, and jazz that's consistently entertaining and interesting.  Reggie is a fine guitarist playing everything from Django Rhinehart to Tony Rice.  Brother Ryan sings soulful blues and plays bass.  During their set at Darin & Brooke's festival look for a few tunes with Darin Aldridge and maybe Darren Nicholson sitting in for a special treat.
Reggie Harris

Ryan Harris

The Harris Brothers - Russian Lullaby - Video

Unspoken Tradition is a young band that came together at the well known local jamming space appropriately called The Bomb Shelter in Cherryville.  All former students of Darin Aldridge's, they've been making waves locally. They're young, enthusiastic, and worth taking a look at.  Also playing at this festival will be the Catawba Valley Youth Band consisting of young people whose efforts are receiving encouragement by the sponsoring organization.

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band

The host band at this festival and popular throughout the region, Darin & Brooke Aldridge have been extending their range both geographically and musically. Starting as a largely gospel band, they have built a repertoire of bluegrass and country duets that reach out to fans in a most delightful fashion. At the same time, they have never lost sight of their musical ministry to churches where they perform at worship services regularly. In the coming months, in addition to performances in the mid-south, they will be seen in Illinois, Indiana, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Connecticut, Vermont, Kansas, and Mississippi. Their latest CD, the self titled Darin & Brooke Aldridge continues to receive strong airplay.  In building their own festival, they have shown the same attention to detail and concern for fan satisfaction they bring to their performances. While, like almost all bands, they have continued to see some changes, they have strengthened their band with every move they've made.  

Darin Aldridge

Brooke Aldridge

Rachel Renee Johnson

Chris Bryant

Perry Woodie

Darin & Brooke - I'll Never Love Nobody But You - Video

Information about the lineup, which is still developing, and schedule as well as how to obtain tickets can be found here.  The Coot Williams Road site is located right in the middle of a square formed by Charlotte, Hickory, and Ashville, NC as well as Spartanburg, SC.  High Point, Greensboro, and Winston-Salem are a convenient trip away. It's an easy drive for day trippers from this region. The map below shows you how to get there.

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Festival at Coot Williams Road

We'll see you there.