Monday, February 13, 2012

Seminole Wind BGF - Brighton Seminole Reservation - Review

The 1st Annual Seminole Wind Bluegrass Festival took place from February 10 -12 at the Fred Smith Arena in the Brighton Seminole Community on the Seminole Indian Reservation about 25 miles west of Okeechobee, FL. Booked and organized by promoters Keith and Darlene Bass for the Seminole's, the festival featured excellent bluegrass music from national and local bands as well as a music and dance presentation by the musical group
Brulé, a troupe portraying contemporary interpretations of traditional forms in a rock format and dubbed an American Indian Rock Opera.  The facility would be ideal for a large and well attended bluegrass event. The arena can accommodate several thousands, there are full hook-up RV sites as well as water & electric sites and endless space for rough camping.  Under the direction of Amos Tiger, Director of the Fred Smith Arena, and his capable staff, the arena and grounds were well-prepared, immaculately kept, and very attractive. The only thing missing was the people.  The tribe, however, is patient and appears determined to work to build an ongoing bluegrass event on these grounds where many other events have succeeded. An Indian Casino offering the usual gaming and a full service restaurant less than a mile from the Arena adds to its allure for at least some people. This venue shows great promise for bluegrass fans and, hopefully, as an introduction to new people discovering the music.

Hwy 41 South

This increasingly engaging band playing classic bluegrass continues to appear at many quality events here in Florida, improving with each performance. Sadly, lighting conditions made it difficult to get good pictures, but here's what I have. 
Mark Horn

 JR Davis

Donnie Harvey

Robert Feathers, Dave Beaumont

Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad

Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad  have added two veteran, strong pickers to the lineup and stepped up a level. Terry Baucom on banjo and Darrell Webb on guitar and vocals bring experience and seasoning. Jerry Cole on bass is always strong, and Cody was in excellent voice this weekend. His pleasing mix of gospel and bluegrass standards worked well with this audience.
Cody Shuler

Darrell Webb
Cody Shuler & Jerry Cole
Cody Shuler & Pine Mountain Railroad
Your Love is Like a Flower - Video

Kickin' Grass

We first saw Kickin' Grass six or seven years ago when they were a straight ahead bluegrass band, filled with hope and enthusiasm. The enthusiasm is still there, along with lots of skill to support their repertoire of original songs, many written by Lynn Dawson who also sings and plays guitar. The band is filled with energy. Hank Smith on banjo is fast and intriguing with his Fleck style finger work up the neck. Patty Hopkins on fiddle is a delight. Patrick Walsh plays bass and sings both lead and harmony. Front man Jamie Dawson is very solid on mandolin. the band has worked hard and played a lot, and the work shows. On Sunday the day dawned cold and windy, so the music was taken inside and seemed more like a house concert. Kickin' Grass was particularly effective in this setting.  

Jamie Dawson
Lynn Dawson

Patrick Walsh

Patty Hopkins

Hank Smith
Kickin' Grass - Red Clay Halo - Video


Bluegrass Band's Life on the Road

Only one member of the original Grasstowne formed seven years ago still remains, but that one is the key to this excellent band's continuing improvement in performance, and I can only look forward to their next recorded release.  Dustin Pyrtle has joined the band at guitar and lead vocalist. At age twenty-one both his voice and picking show the depth and quality of a man of many more years. Justin Jenkins on banjo continues to create wonderful Crowe-style banjo breaks along with always strong back-up. Kameron Keller on bass turned twenty-one this weekend. His beat is rock solid and he plays excellent bass breaks...a nice addition. The widely experienced and creative Adam Haynes is always strong on fiddle. Alan Bibey remains the mandolin players mandolin player with his clean, fast picking and inventive figures. The band seems to be having more fun on the stage than they ever have, and it positively affects their performance.

Alan Bibey

Adam Haynes

Justin Jenkins
Kameron Keller

Dustin Pyrtle

Grasstowne - Sweet Georgia Brown - Video


Led by Paul LaRoche, who was adopted away from the reservation as an infant and only discovered his Indian heritage in his mid-thirties, Brulé uses contemporary rock musical idioms described in Wikipedia as New Age Worldbeat to interpret traditional Indian dances from a variety of sources. LaRoche narrates and plays keyboards with extensive electronic elaboration. His daughter Nicole on flute and son Shane on guitar join him with a troupe of Indian drummers and dancers to create an engaging and enjoyable program that may teach something about Native American heritage, too. Brulé closed both Friday and Saturday night's performances.

 Paul LaRoche
Nicole LaRoche

Brulé - Deep Dreams - Video


Keith Bass & the Florida Bluegrass Express
 Keith Bass & the Florida Bluegrass Express gives good value in classic bluegrass along with some original material. All five members, including the newly installed Kathy Stewart on bass offer enthusiastic and strong performances.  With four lead singers who also handle their instrumental chores with skills and enthusiasm, this band can be counted on to help fill a strong lineup.

Clint Dockery

Shane Stewart
Keith Bass
Kathy Stewart
Jason Baker

Keith Bass & the Florida Bluegrass Express
Old Carolina - Video


Madison and Travis Gibson - Sound


Alecia Nugent

For the second time in three weekends, Alicia Nugent came to Florida affected by the weather. At YeeHaw Junction her plane was delayed by tornadoes in Louisiana and this weekend she arrived to the chilliest weather of the winter without cold weather gear. Like the trooper she is, though, she soldiered through, always giving her all with humor and grace.  She sang her familiar hits, lots of good gospel songs, and a very nice version of Hank Williams' Jambalaya, even though she disclaims any real familiarity with Cajun music. Her band is well chosen to support her music. Beth Lawrence sings wonderful harmonies and Colby Laney is a first rate up-and-coming flat picker.

Beth Lawrence & Alicia Nugent
Rusty Breedlove & Alicia Nugent

 Ryan Blevins

Colby Laney
I'm sorry not to have a video of Alicia from this festival ready, but I'm having bandwidth problems and can't upload any until about the week after next. Look at this space and my video channel for more of her on video.

The Real Bluegrass Wives of Florida


Still-House is composed of several former members of Carrie Hasler's band as well as a group of friends who've known each other for years.  They're fresh out of the box, eager, and show a lot of potential. Lead singer and song writer Justin Tomlin writes good original material and the McKinnon twins, Kevin and Keith provide lots of drive. Jamie Harper on fiddle adds a fine touch.  Eli Johnston, from Monroeville, substituted well on bass. When a band remains a bluegrass band with a repertoire from Bill Monroe to Jimi Hendrix, look for an exciting and interesting evening. Keep your eyes out for this band, which will be releasing a CD in the next few months and looking for bookings, which they richly deserve.

 Kevin McKinnon

 Justin Tomlin

Jamie Harper

Ely Johnston

Keith McKinnon

Still-House - Highway 40 Blues -Video


Marvin Hines, Darlene & Keith Bass

Chickee Hut Warmup & House Concert Venue

Evan Carl - Emcee

Put this one on your schedule for next year.