Monday, August 8, 2011

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

Early morning at a bluegrass festival is quiet time. Many late night jammers are sleeping late in their rigs or back in their hotels.  A few early birds straggle down to re-set their chairs or stop at the vendors' booths for a cup of hot coffee and a breakfast sandwich.  Saturday morning is filled with promise as the rhythm of the event continues to build toward the surprises to come as night-time takes over.  The excitement of surprise guests and inspired performances is still hours away, but the promise of what's to come is in the air, as the morning's events begin to kick off.

Katie Wilson & the Two Time String Band

Katie Wilson's pleasant voice and stage personality abetted by a strong and varied band won last year's Podunk band contest including a slot in the 2011 Podunk lineup.  Hard to characterize in terms of genre, Wilson's music is easy to listen to and quite enjoyable.  The inclusion of a cello in her band works quite well in her style of music.  

Katie Wilson

Jordan Jancz
Richard Neal
Bob Csugie
Andrea Asprelli
Josh Cohen

Song Writing Workshop with Louisa Branscomb

Louisa Branscomb, award winning song writer with two Grammies and chart topper "Don't Turn Your Back" recorded by Dale Ann Bradley which  was on the bluegrass charts for nearly a year, came to Podunk to conduct a song writing workshop, which would produce a group song for performance by Donna Ulisse on Sunday.  Throughout Saturday and on into Sunday morning, Louisa worked with her writing group.  It was a lot of fun to drop in for a short visit.

Louisa Branscomb

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers

If there's such a thing as a celebrity bluegrass band, Chris Jones & the Night Drivers may be it.  Chris Jones and Ned Luberecki are both dj's on Sirius/XM Radio with widespread listenership. Chris's "True Grass" segment is well-regarded by bluegrass traditionalists for its play of early bluegrass and historical bluegrass precursors.  Ned's Sunday banjo lessons are a must for many banjo players, and his quirky humor is refreshing.  Jon Weisberger is well-known for his song writing as well as the many CD liner notes he's produced.  A frequent presence on the bluegrass forums, he keeps us all honest.  John is an active board member and leadership voice in IBMA.  Mark Stofell on mandolin is not well known, but his mandolin work is excellent.  Oh...did I say the band is really good, too?

Chris Jones

John Weissberger
Ned Luberecki
Mark Stoffel

Chris Jones & the Night Drivers - Cloud of Dust - Video

Kim Cyr - Emcee

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Darin & Brooke Aldridge have appeared at three major festivals in the northeast this summer, never failing to win fans and broaden their appeal.   Great singing, strong instrumental work, and winning personalities draw people to this young couple and their band at every appearance.  A guest appearance by Jim Hurst added a new dimension to their version of Bill Monroe's "Jerusalem Ridge" on Saturday night.  

Darin & Brooke Aldridge

Chris Bryant

Rachel Renee Johnson

Dwayne Anderson

Darin Aldridge & Jim Hurst

Darin & Brooke Aldridge w/ Jim Hurst - Jerusalem Ridge - Video


The Trio - Darin, Rachel & Brooke

Patti & Dave Balenger

The Kruger Brothers

The Kruger Brothers turn bluegrass instrumentation into classical music.  Settling from their native Switzerland near Wilkesboro, NC to be near Doc Watson and American roots music, they have found ways to bring incorporate the sound they moved to be near into the sounds and musical heritage they brought with them, creating a musical synthesis that brings joy to those who hear their music.  Jens Kruger is, without doubt, the finest banjo player in the world. His elegant stylings, versatility, and creativity are without peer.  Uwe Kruger is a fine flat picker with an excellent baritone voice.  Joe Landsburg on bass is often called the third Kruger Brother, bringing elegance and humor to their performances.  Whether they're singing simple gospel songs, playing old-time, or elements from their suite for symphony orchestra and bluegrass band or their new piece for bluegrass trio and string quartet, their work is inventive, challenging, and always enjoyable.  At the end of their second set on Saturday, they invited Michael Cleveland to join them for a rousing version of Sally Goodin, a long fragment of which is shown below.

Jens Kruger

Uwe Kruger

Joel Landsburg
The Kruger Brothers & Michael Cleveland - Sally Goodin - Video
This Video was removed at the request of the Kruger Brothers

In the Campground 

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper

Michael Cleveland is, with a sure hand, bringing his band back up to snuff. Ashby Frank, a member of the band since July, brings a sure mandolin touch and good singing to the group. Charley Lawson has a strong bluegrass voice and does well sharing emcee chores with Mike.  Blake Bowen is quietly competent on bass. The band still doesn't have a permanent person at banjo. New England regional banjo player Pete Kelly filled in on Saturday.  Mike was playing with fire and commitment.  

Michael Cleveland

Charley Lawson
Blake Bowen
Ashby Frank

 Pete Kelly

Gerry Katz & Stan Zdonik 

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Doyle Lawson has been a touring bluegrass professional for over forty years. Starting with Jimmy Martin & the Sunny Mountain Boys, he's played with J.D. Crowe & the New South, The Country Gentlemen, and now his own band for many years.  He's managed to stay fresh and lively while continuing to play largely traditional bluegrass and gospel music.  His band represents the best in musicality and style.  Surrounding himself with young players, he trains them fit into his system and, when they leave to start their own bands or join others, he finds ways to replace them while lifting the quality still further.  It began to rain as Lawson's set began, but the audience stayed to listen and cheer.

Doyle Lawson

Jason Barrie
Josh Swift - Dobro

Jesse Baker

Cory Hensley - Bass
Carl White - Drums

 Doyle & Cory
Mike Rogers


Mike Cleveland at his Merch Table

 Volunteers at Work

Tim St. Jean & Vickie Baker - Kids Academy Directors