Welcome to my Blog. I write primarily about bluegrass music and the bluegrass experience. I also review books I read as well as offering road notes and travel entries. Come in and look around to see whether there's anything here for you. Be sure to check the archives and the labels. Please leave comments. I try to respond to all of them.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival - Kodak, TN - Thursday
The old sailor's maxim "Red sky in the morning, sailor take warning" held true on the opening day of the Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival, but isn't this a lovely sunrise to start the day with? As the sun came up, the campground was not quite full, yet, but by 1:00 PM when the music began there was a significant crowd and a wet mist had settled over the area. Fortunately, it never really rained hard, but as dark came a chill breeze cut through the good crowd who stayed to hear four excellent and quite differing bands play for them.
The Darrell Webb Band
Darrell Webb looks younger than his thirty-seven years and has been around a good bit. A couple of years ago he took the bit in his teeth, going out on his own with a new band. His performance at Dumplin' Valley with virtually a new band behind him shows the work has been worth it. Darrell has developed his skills as the leader of his band and as spokesman as well. He's clearly in charge of the group of young pickers, mostly culled from the very fine bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University. It's worth noting how importantly ETSU contributes to the number of highly skilled young musicians joining bands. Along with graduates of Berklee College of Music and the program at South Plains College in Texas, the group ofyoung pickers is simply breathtaking in their virtuosity and breadth of knowledge. Webb's band stands high in this group, with excellent personnel in every slot. The band is tight, inventive, and personable. Darrell's singing and mandolin play continue to improve based on a good start to begin with.
Darrell Webb Band - Bloodline - Video
Johnnie and Gene Daniell - The Sound is Great
The Little Roy & Lizzie Show
Little Roy Lewis has bounced back from the difficult period following the breakup of the decades long tour of the Lewis Family. Now partnered with long-time protege Lizzie Long, Little Roy, while never giving up his antic ways, seems at peace with himself and the supporting comedic role he plays, happy to let Lizzie carry the responsibility and grow into her job. Meanwhile, Lizzie Long has become a consumate performer/entertainer. She looks and sounds comfortable in her job as emcee, having developed a light and friendly way of seeming to control the irrepressible Lewis. Meanwhile, her singing has become warmer while her multi-instrumental work on several instruments is excellent. While fiddle and banjo remain her strongest instruments, she's worked on guitar (both wood and metal) as well. The fine supporting band goes with the flow, helping to create the relaxed, amusing, entertaining, and tuneful show.
Little Roy & Lizzie
Little Roy Lewis
Little Roy & Lizzie - Nickajack Dam - Video
Little Roy & Lizzie
The Greatest Clown in Bluegrass
Joe Soward - Promoter
Paul Williams and the Victory Trio
In August of 1963 Paul Williams had his Damascus moment. Since then, he has sung gospel music almost exclusively, although he sometimes appears in reunion concerts with former bandmates from earlier years, Doyle Lawson and J.D. Crowe. He has devoted his clear, lovely tenor voice and deep commitment to his faith to witnessing in song. He is supported by an equally committed band which blends well with his voice and creates an enjoyable and, often, worshipful aura while never forgetting he's putting on a show, leavened by humor and his bright smile.
Paul Williams and the Victory Trio - Satisfied - Video
In the seven months since we last saw Monroeville, this young band has matured, become tighter, and broadened its repertoire. After spinning off from the gospel band they had been members of, Monroeville has shown its capacity to express a broad range of bluegrass music flavored by songs drawn from across the musical spectrum. They accomplish this while never straying too far from their bluegrass roots or showing the slightest signs of disrespect for the music from which they come. Their grassed version of Richie Valens' La Bamba is a perfect example. Sung in Spanish with much of the original sound, it is, nevertheless, a bluegrass song in this context. Singer/songwriter Daniel Solyer contributes some great work, including material of his that's been recorded by other bands. Seth Taylor, at 18, is spectacular on guitar. Zane Petty on banjo and Travis Houck on Resophonic Guitar, ditto. Matt Flake did not appear with the band last time we saw them. His fiddle work and singing make a huge contribution. Matt Munsey takes the emcee, much of the lead singing, and mandolin roles naturally and easily. In every way, this is a band to watch.
Matt Flake & Daniel Solyer
Monroeville - Heartbreak Hall of Fame - Video
Just a note to acknowledge Irene's increased contributions to the blog. Armed with a new camera (Nikon D3100), she's taking more pictures, many of which appear in this blog entry and will be seen increasingly as her confidence with this piece of equipment grows. She's always helped make the blog better; now her contributions will be increasingly in evidence.