Friday, April 22, 2011
Willow Oak Bluegrass Festival - Roxboro, NC - Thursday
Willow Oak Music Park is blessed with one of the prettiest and most user friendly sites to hold a bluegrass festival along the east coast. A partially treed natural amphitheater slopes gently down to the new stage erected by promoter Mike Wilson, who acquired the property a couple of years ago. The campground, which offers an increasing number of electric sites and plenty of space of RV'ers to set up for jamming and good fun, is well-treed and close to the stage. Behind the stage on a slight rise is plenty of room for food vendors. Coupled with a strong national and regional lineup, the latest version of the Willow Oak Bluegrass Festival shows right from the opening notes that it's ready to welcome new fans and grow to its full, heretofore unreached, potential.
Mike Wilson - Promoter
Melvin Goins & Windy Mountain
Melvin Goins, along with his late brother Raymond, is a living legend in bluegrass. At age 77 he continues to tour and to entertain, offering lots of traditional music and country humor in an engaging and entertaining fashion. Backed by a veteran band, including his nephew.
A Rock Helps in the Wind
Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road
Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road can always be counted on to be hard working and eager to please its solid fan base. Now billing herself as "Lady of Tradition," the band continues to provide a good variety of pretty traditional bluegrass music. We were pleased to see Eddie Biggerstaff has joined the band on upright bass, a change from his accustomed electric. Tommy Long, singing lead and playing rhythm guitar, contributes a strong baritone voice and some good song writing. Josh Goforth, who's been a standout on fiddle and guitar as well as tenor vocals for several years continues with his strong work. Ben Greene on banjo has been a mainstay for five years and is always strong. Lorraine, as band emcee, singing tenor in the trio, and providing a strong chop on the mandolin is clearly the leader of her band. She also contributes song writing. The band has recently signed with Rural Rhythm Records, and their second CD will soon be released.
Deeper Shade of Blue
Deeper Shade of Blue is a regional traditional band originating in Monroe, NC, a town that's been the home of more fine bluegrass pickers than can be counted. The band plays traditional covers and very good originals that sound traditional. Lead singer Troy Pope contributes strong gospel song writing. Jason Fraley and his Dad, Jim, are an excellent one-two punch on mandolin and banjo. Frank Poindexter on Dobro is always strong. Founding member Brian Hinson plays bass and writes, too. Their sixth CD will soon be released.
Linda Dilling & Troy Pope
Summertown Road comes from Kentucky and plays traditional, hard-driving bluegrass. Recently reduced from five to four members, the band was stronger with a fiddle in it. Bo Isaac has a great bluegrass voice, but must still work on his skills as an emcee. This weekend, mandolin player and Isaac lookalike Zach Rambo stayed home to greet his new son, and was ably replaced by Chase Johner. Elmer Burchett on banjo has been a strong addition since he joined the band. Randy Thomas is solid on bass. This band continues to have great potential.
Lou Reid & Carolina
Lou Reid has established himself as one of the premier singers and mandolin players in bluegrass over a period of many years. Lou Reid & Carolina is one of the best four piece bands touring today and highly worth seeing if you get the chance. The interaction within the band, bantering between him and his wife Christy as well as appropriate input from Shannon Slaughter and Trevor Watson keep the show moving along, and their performance is filled with familiar Lou Reid songs as well as frequently refreshed material. A very fine band. Lou will also be appearing here on Friday with The Seldom Scene.
This was a strong Thursday start for what should continue to be an enjoyable event. Gotta go get ready and head on over to the grounds. More tomorrow.