Monday, April 4, 2011

Darin & Brooke Aldridge BGF - Cherryville, NC - Review

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Festival Hosts

The second annual Darin & Brooke Aldridge Music Festival had a successful run at the Coot Williams Road site near Cherryville, NC last weekend.  Promoters John and Linda Hunsucker, working closely with the Aldridge team provided upgraded sound and a lineup strengthened in breadth and quality.  Despite breezy, chilly weather culminating in cold evenings, fans responded positively by filling the tent on both days for the high quality music and many opportunities to see local as well as national bands.  The Hunsuckers, under the rubric of  The Catawba Valley Music Revival are seeking to encourage local bands and live music in the four county area west of Charlotte and east of the Smokey Mountains.

The weekend opened on Friday morning with a golf tournament held at the Cleveland Country Club. The eighteen hole captain's choice best ball event provided a fine start for those who enjoy combining their bluegrass with golf.  All the participants had a fine time during the morning event which concluded with a barbecue and prize ceremony.
Dr. Bobby Jones, Trip Boinest, Brooke & Darin Aldridge
The Winning Team

On the Course - Rachel and Ray Johnson

One of the Teams

The Festival

Roan Mountaineers

Roan Mountaineers are all students in the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University. They played a set on Friday afternoon, demonstrating that such a program is a worthwhile effort with their enthusiasm and youth.  We also had the opportunity for a reunion with our young friend from Jenny Brook Festival, Aaron Foster, who's a freshman in the bluegrass program.  Seeing him jam convinced us the program provides a fast track to impressive growth in musicianship.

Aaron Foster Jamming with Friends

Carolina Foxfire
Carolina Foxfire is the most visible effort of the Catawba Valley Youth Revival to encourage young people to play bluegrass music.  The band continues to show progress, and it's always enjoyable to see them work.

The Harris Brothers
The Harris Brothers, Reggie and Ryan, generally perform as an exciting, varied, and highly entertaining duo playing an eclectic mix of blues, jazz, country, reggae, and much more.  For this festival they were augmented by Ron Shuffler on guitar, Darin Aldridge on mandolin, and, for a couple of numbers, Perry Woodie on Dobro.  The combination worked wonderfully well as could be seen when the following act, The Grascals, congregated at the tent entrance to watch and listen.  If you get a chance to hear or see this group, take it!

Reggie Harris

 Ryan Harris

Ron Shuffler

The Grascals

A good test of professionalism is always presented when cold or wet weather confronts a band. Friday evening was beyond chilly, and The Grascals came out to give their highly energetic, musically first-rate performance, despite cold hands. The audience, mostly suitably bundled up, stayed 'til the end for this multiple award winning band.   

Terry Eldredge

Jamie Johnson

Terry Smith

Danny Roberts

Jeremy Abshire

Kristin Scott Benson

Showcase Recital
 It has become traditional at this festival for Darin Aldridge to showcase a group of his bluegrass students. An accomplished teacher, Darin brings individuals and groups to the stage to perform. Some are beginners, while others have been studying with him for years and are quite accomplished.  Ranging in age from seven or eight to well into their seventies, his students show that it's never to late to start playing and enjoying bluegrass music.

New Plowed Ground

Al Dunkleman heads this eclectic trio playing folk, cajun, grass, and other genres in a pleasant mix as New Plowed Ground.  Al, a teacher at Cleveland County Community College, is joined by his wife Karen and Dr. Bobby Jones to present their material throughout the region. 

Al Dunkleman
Karen Dunkleman

Dr. B

Dennis Jones - WNCW-FM - Emcee

Unspoken Tradition
The Catawba Valley Music Revival
Youth All-Stars

The Moore Brothers

The Moore Brothers, Jacob (13) and Isaac (8), are well on their way to establishing themselves as creditable young musicians. They'll bear watching as the mature into the music and their voices become increasingly reliable.

Jacob Moore

Isaac Moore

Balsam Range

Balsam Range is the finest bluegrass band not touring as a national group! With two very fine CD's under their belt and a consistently lively and entertaining stage presentation, Balsam Range features fine song-writing from within the group and excellent choice of material from outside.  Each position is strong. Buddy Melton, on fiddle, has one of the finest true tenor voices in the business. Tim Surett combines strong bass backup with exciting solo breaks, sings very well, and anchors the band as emcee, too. Darren Nicholson's mandolin play is fast and furious, while his bear-like demeanor becomes increasingly attractive.  Caleb Smith's guitar work and singing is nothing short of superlative. This band consists of six members, all of whom have day jobs and don't travel a great distance from their base near Asheville, NC. Meanwhile, their two fine CD's, Last Train to Kitty Hawk and Trains I've Missed are consistently enjoyable, worth a place in anyone's car CD player or iPod.

Buddy Melton
 Tim Surrett

Darren Nicholson

Caleb Smith

Marc Pruett

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band has only been touring for a little over two years. In this period they've charted with their self titled CD Darin and Brooke Aldridge, had major showcases at IBMA, and broken through into the New England market as well as having begun to make a major impact in the midwest.  Their combination of well selected bluegrass and country tinged songs along with the gospel music, a tradition which brought them together and continues to be a central part of who they are, pleases audiences. The warmth of their relationship, Brooke's powerful voice, and Darin's superb musicianship, honed over years with top bands, produces fine chemistry. With the addition of Rachel Johnson on fiddle and harmony vocals, they've gelled into an even finer group.  Chris Bryant on banjo and Perry Woodie on Dobro add balance and range to the band. Perry also chimes in with a comic sensibility that has the consistent power to surprise. The relationship between Brooke and Rachel is a delight to watch and their vocal trio always spot on. Dwayne Anderson has recently joined the band on bass.  Ask for this fine band at your local festival.

Rachel Johnson
Chris Bryant

 Perry Woodie

Dwayne Anderson
This was the best festival yet held on the Coot Williams Road site.  Sound by John Holder was consistently good. Food provided by a couple of local churches was tasty and reasonably priced.  The event show-cased a number of young, local players as well as offering touring bands worth traveling to hear.  The next festival here will be in early September.

Brooke & Rachel