Friday, August 5, 2011

Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival - E. Hartford, CT - Thursday

Setting up the Stage

There are plenty of good reasons why the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival, running this weekend at Martin Park in E. Hartford, CT, received the IBMA Event of the Year for 2010.  From the moment you drive in the gate 'til you leave the grounds near midnight, attendees are made to feel like welcome guests, presented with many differing opportunities to enjoy themselves, treated to high quality food and merchandise selections, and generally treated as important.  Thursday's festivities began with sunshine and ended with a marvelous surprise only slightly dampened by light showers.  A truly great start for the weekend.

The Grounds Take Shape

Pre - Opening Workshops
Dobro with Stacey Phillips

Fiddle with Corinne Judd

The Rush for Seats

 Time for the Music
Mac McHale and the Old Time Radio Gang

Mac McHale is approaching eighty years of age and had been a fixture in New England bluegrass and country music circles for more than fifty years.  His pleasant singing voice and emcee work reminiscent of radio emcees some of us remember from the 1940's and 50's is clear and welcoming, his manner always joyful.  McHale has surrounded himself by a relaxed band which participates happily in the banter and joking (some pretty corny, as prescribed by the genre) that went along with old-time radio shows.  His two sets were enjoyable...a good opening.

Mac McHale

 Herman McGee

Sally Roc

John Roc

Jim Hurst Workshop

Jim Hurst is presenting a series of workshops at Podunk, including a performance on the workshop stage on Saturday.  If you get the chance, be sure to hear this great guitar stylist and learn from him as well.

The Dixie Bee Liners

The Dixie Bee Liners base themselves in Southwestern Virginia, where they have taken a special interest in the Crooked Road, US Route 58's meander through the home of American old-time, country, and bluegrass music. Their sound and vibe represents all these influences as well as reaching out into the cutting edge of today's acoustic roots music.  Their most recent CD, Susanville, is a concept album telling stories of American life on the road through a variety of narrators.  The band is strong instrumentally and vocally, and leaders Brandi Hart and Buddy Woodward give each member plenty of opportunity to contribute to the pleasing mixture they create.

Brandi Hart

Buddy Woodward

Sav Sankaran

Zach Mongan

Sarah Needham
Ethan Hasler

Travelin' McCoury's Workshop

Audience for McCoury Workshop

Local Folks Come for Free

The Travelin' McCoury's

The Travelin' McCoury's are, essentially a touring band composed of Del McCoury's band without Del and augmented by a rotating group of superb flat-pickers.  This weekend Cody Kilby joined them. The band has become a true powerhouse, developing a driving style and selecting from a broad range  of bluegrass material that might not be what Del would choose to perform.  For instance, last night they did a good deal of John Hartford material. They're tight, strong, and quite entertaining.  None of the individual's needs introduction, and as a group they've gelled since I last saw them a couple of years ago.

Jason Carter & Ron McCoury
Rob McCoury

Jason Carter

Alan Bartram

Cody Kilby

Meanwhile...Back Stage

A Birthday Surprise for Roger Moss - Video

Jean & Del McCoury
"The Don't Look the Same from Back Here"