Saturday, May 7, 2011

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver BGF - Denton, NC - Fri

Denton FarmPark

Friday at the Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Bluegrass Festival at the Denton FarmPark near Denton, NC dawned warm and partly cloudy with the computer calling for scattered thundershowers.  As the morning progressed the sky became more overcast and a light rain began during Darin & Brooke Aldridge's first set.  Thunder rumbled in the distance, but the rain soon stopped, the sky cleared and a lovely day ensued.  Into the evening the day stayed warm and only in the last couple of hours did a noticeable chill creep into the air, but it certainly wasn't enough to deter anyone from enjoying the evening's festivities.  A generally strong lineup and an enthusiastic audience combined with the improving weather to make it a great day.

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band has experienced remarkable growth in the slightly over two years they've been touring.  Combining an attractive and musically talented couple with a strong band featuring excellent instrumentals and strong vocal harmonies has created a synthesis that works on every level.  They began showcasing songs from their new and soon to be released CD. If what we heard is any indication, this sophomore offering equals or surpasses their debut album.  Dwayne Anderson on bass has fit into the band like a glove showing a strong beat and some really impressive solo chops.  Rachel Johnson's work on fiddle and vocal harmonies is superb, complementing the band in every way. Chris Bryant on banjo is sure and solid.  Brooke Aldridge has one of the strongest and most recognizable new voices in bluegrass and should be a strong candidate for Female Vocalist of the Year in 2011.  Darin's voice, reminiscent of Vince Gill's, is sure and supple while his guitar and mandolin play are among the best.  Don't miss the excellent version of "Jerusalem Ridge" the band has worked up. 

Darin Aldridge

Brooke Aldridge

Rachel Johnson

Chris Bryant

Dwayne Anderson

I Like Your Shoes....

Darin & Brooke

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins, coming from South-Central Ohio near Dayton, has been extending his touring radius over the past couple of years.  The band, deeply traditional, relies on a combination of excellent covers, new material which sounds old, and gospel singing to create a band the pays homage to the past while presenting the best in new traditional material.  The band is an excellent ensemble, and Mullins gives each person an opportunity to shine while keeping the show moving along with his well-honed radio personality.  Lovers of traditional bluegrass can't help loving this band. 

Joe Mullins

Tim Kidd &Adam McIntosh
Evan McGregor

Mike Terry


Coming together as a family band almost fifteen years ago as part of the healing process after a family tragedy, Cherryholmes evolved from a local cover band into a powerhouse cutting edge touring band noted for its style and innovative musical programming.  Now, with the Cherryholmes kids no longer children, the band is breaking into its component parts with members going their own way.  Parents Jerry and Sandy Leigh can look back proudly on having developed strong minded, able, and independent people and sent them out into the world.  The imminent marriage of Skip Cherryholmes to Stephanie Dilling is looked forward to by all who know this lovely young couple.  The other family members are headed to a range of careers, but there's at least a suspicion that the world of progressive bluegrass music will be hearing more from them all.

Jerry Cherryholmes

Sandy Leigh Cherryholmes

Cia Cherryholmes

Skip Cherryholmes

BJ Cherryholms

Molly Kate Cherryholmes

BJ & Molly Kate

Sandy Leigh & Cia

GoldWing Express
Shawn Baldridge

Bob Baldridge

Steve Baldridge

Paul Baldridge

Kyle Ramey

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Since joining Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys in 1963, Doyle Lawson has been at the center of bluegrass music and innovation.  His career, spanning nearly fifty years of active performance, has involved him with ground-breaking bands at every turn.  He played with J.D. Crowe & the Kentucky Mountain Boys before they became the New South, and later moved to The Country Gentlemen for nearly eight years.  In 1979 he formed the band which soon became Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in order to create his own sound, which he has been doing ever since. During the 1980's he was instrumental in putting together the Bluegrass Album Band, which re-introduced the music of the bluegrass founders to new audiences throughout the world.  The Doyle Lawson show, characterized by fast-paced bluegrass standards, luminous gospel singing, acapella quartets, and well-choreographed and seemingly off-the-cuff humor between his adult image and the young men serving in his band has set a standard for performance for nearly forty years.  His musical standards and band discipline are legendary, but the hard work and careful structure are always well hidden by the smooth and enjoyable performance. 

Recently Doyle Lawson has added drums to his band's stage performances, creating something of a fire storm in the forums and on-line list servs.  On Friday afternoon we sat down in his 45 foot Prevost bus to discuss this change and the reaction to it.  While I'd read a good deal of reaction to the addition of a snare drum and kick bass to his sound, I was not aware that Doyle had spoken about the issue publicly before, although I've since learned he discussed it with Kyle Cantrell in a track-by-track on Sirius/XM radio recently.  Doyle says he can't quite understand why people see the addition of drums as a traumatic event. On February 3, 1963, when he joined Jimmy Martin's band, there was a drummer with the band, while Paul Williams was playing electric guitar. Jimmy Martin was a showman, and the performance was a "show." Later, J.D. Crowe, the Osborne Brothers, and Jim & Jesse all carried drummers with them.  Drums have been a feature of bluegrass recordings for many years, even when they were seen as being unwelcome on the stage.

In several different ways during our conversation, Doyle asserted his respect for the founders, but argued that no one should wish to restrain the creativity or inspiration of musicians seeking to establish their own sound. He also suggested that simply replaying the songs of the founders or songs sounding just like them would inevitably become boring for musicians asserting their own creativity and for audiences wishing to have variety in their listening experience.  At the same time, he consistently spoke of his admiration and respect for the founders, on whose shoulders the changes occurring today are built.  He said that recently his own music has received good reviews, but the reaction has been something like "Well, what else could you expect from Doyle." He commented that he was tired of being taken for granted and wished once again to stand out from the crowd.  For his most recent recording, he could hear, in his imagination the sound of a snare filling the holes in the sound and freeing the mandolin for a larger role.  He held that "true fans" support the desire of musicians for creative production of new music.  He said what he's currently added to his music is not new, and he doesn't take credit for it.  "Music will evolve. No one loves the first generation more than I do. They were revolutionaries in the music they put together."  His general point was the music must change or it will die.  The music influencing young musicians today inevitably means that different sounds and approaches will emerge.  "Adding a drum to my music now makes me feel better about what I do....Young people will bring their own ideas..." to the development of bluegrass.

As we enjoyed Doyle's two sets yesterday, there was a new freshness and enthusiasm evident in the performance of his entire band.  It was Earl Scruggs who enunciated the principle that the three necessary principles in bluegrass were tone, taste, and timing.  None of these three conditions was violated by the subtle and tasteful addition of the snare and kick drum to the performance of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver.  Their performance was up to the highest of standards and not a word was whispered near me about having a drum on the stage here at one of the most successful and long running bluegrass festivals.

Doyle Lawson

Corey Hensley

Jason Barrie

Josh Swift

Carl White

Mike Rogers

Jesse Baker