Friday, July 22, 2011

Musicians Against Childhood Cancer - 2011 - Thursday

Headed to the Bottoms

The Bottoms

Balsam Range

Balsam Range has exploded from the hills of North Carolina in the past few years.  With three CD's under their belts and several number one songs to their name, this band is poised to emerge into assuming a wider and more highly recognized profile.  Their driving Appalchian tinged bluegrass manages the neat trick of being contemporary and sounding traditional simultaneously.  They're instrumental and vocal power captures listeners and keeps them listening.  Buddy Melton's distinctive tenor voice is  instantly recognizable, while Caleb Smith's flat picking and song writing are both worthy of recognition.  Listen carefully to Tim Surett on bass, too.  

Marc Pruett
Caleb Smith
Darren Nicholson

Buddy Melton

 Tim Surrett

Balsam Range - Last Train to Kitty Hawk - Video

Robin & Trina
Balsam Range Fans

Robin & Trina
Only a (very) Few Years Ago

Nothin' Fancy

Nothin' Fancy continues as one of the most entertaining bands on the bluegrass circuit.  Mixing comedy routines with Mike Andes' song writing (both serious and novelty material) and an ongoing commitment to the music of the Country Gentlemen, this band has developed a large and loyal fan base which travels to see them.  Their long-time fans and new devotees particularly enjoy the extended bits combining broad comedy with inside musical jokes played by Chris Sexton on the fiddle.  Each member brings an individual personality to the mix, creating a pleasing and enjoyable whole.

Mike Andes
Tony Shorter
Gary Faris

Mitchell Davis

Chris Sexton

 Andes & Shorter

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper
Mike Cleveland's band is still experiencing some growing pains, but the addition of Ashby Frank on mandolin adds an important instrumental and vocal piece.  His first class mandolin work and excellent voice make him a double threat for the re-building band.  Charlie Lawson singing lead and playing guitar brings a superior bluegrass voice and strong emcee skills to the mix.  Blake Bowen on bass is solid as a rock.  Charlie Cushman played his last gig as a member of Flamekeeper on Thursday, and Michael is auditioning banjo players.  Mike, of course, continues with the powerful, historically informed traditional fiddling that's been his trademark for years.  His joy in playing infects those around him. More on Mike later in this piece.

Michael Cleveland

Ashby Frank
Charley Lawson
Blake Bowen
Charlie Cushman

Food Vendors Row

Lou Reid & Carolina

Lou Reid's been in the bluegrass business for along time. His mandolin playing and voice have been a part of storied bands from the original Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver to Ricky Skaggs' country touring band, and the Seldom Scene as well as super-band Longview.  In each place his singing and musicianship always excels.  With Lou Reid & Carolina he has the opportunity to put his own stamp on his music and takes full advantage of it, singing carefully chosen material that always suits him well.  He has surrounded himself with a strong band. Christy,  his wife and musical partner on bass and harmony vocals twines her voice around his.  Shannon Slaughter's resonant deep baritone provides depth and power. He's also a fine flat picker.  Trevor Watson on banjo provides both drive and fill to complete the mix.  This excellent band truly deserves  to be heard and seen much more widely.
Lou Reid

Christy Dowell Reid
Shannon Slaughter

Trevor Watson

Marty Raybon & Full Circle

Marty Raybon has had a long career in both bluegrass and country music. At present his band is going through something of a reorganization, but his fine voice should carry him through.  He has a strong southern sensibility which shows clearly in his musical choices.  

Marty Raybon

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out
Another great set from this storied band. It's always a treat when they're on the bill for two days, because it provides them a good chance to hang out and visit.  Great folks as well as a great band.

Wayne Benson
Edgar Loudermilk

Justin Haynes

 Steve Dilling

Kyle Cantrell Introducing The Grascals

The Grascals

The Grascals have been closely associated with the MACC and St. Jude Children's Research Hospital almost since they were formed.  His song "I Am Strong," written with his wife, has become a sort of bluegrass anthem to the courage of the children at the hospital and their will to survive and thrive.  Late in arriving because of repeated traffic slow-ups along their route, they hit the stage five minutes after their bus pulled in and delivered a socko performance.  Always high energy and entertaining.

Jamie Johnson
Kristin Scott Benson

Jeremy Abshire

Terry Eldredge

Danny Roberts

The Trio
Jamie Johnson, Terry Smith, Terry Eldredge 

The Johnson Mountain Boys

The music of the Johnson Mountain Boys has influenced a generation of bluegrass fans to the wonders of a sound most of them never heard in its original versions.  Emerging as a full-featured band in 1978, they created a huge stir introducing fans to the sounds of the first generation of bluegrass music.  They were well-recognized and established a distinctive voice.  Finding it impossible to sustain themselves as a road band, they dissolved, having occasional reunion tours into the mid-nineties.  Now JMB has re-emerged and looks like it's entering into limited touring.  The band played with energy and conviction, introducing a new audience to what had originally made them so popular, while satisfying fans of their former iterations.  Michael Cleveland on fiddle laid to rest any concerns that band members are irreplaceable.  Dudley Connell's relentless energy and good humor led the way as Richard Underwood, David McLaughlin, and Marshall Willborn all sounded and looked wonderful. Their next performance is at the Del-Val festival on Labor Day Weekend.
 The Trio
Richard Underwood, David McLaughlin, Dudley Connell
Marshall Wilborn
Richard Underwood

David McLaughlin
Mike Cleveland

 Twin Fiddles - McLaughlin & Cleveland
Dudley Connell

Johnson Mountain Boys - Columbus Stockade Blues - Video