Monday, March 12, 2012

Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival - Folkston, GA - Review

The Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival, a growing twice annual event held in a beautiful grove of live oak trees on a hammock surrounded by the piney woods of southeast Georgia, held its third semi-annual event from March 8 - 10 to increased attendance and high enthusiasm.  Promoters Harvin Carter, his wife Kay, and daughter Ashley have encouraged Robert and Clint Wilson to bring together an always interesting mixture of bluegrass veterans and fine young bands to offer an always pleasing mixture of bluegrass styles, ages, and sounds. Through three festivals, Newell Lodge has grown in the size and variety of its audience and the quality of its offerings. This festival has the capacity and the will to become a major event, convenient to North Florida with shows that can be attended by Snobirds in transit or easily by people from the region.  This weekend, featuring an expanded schedule, the festival offered old favorites and newcomers as well as local and regional bands.

Fish Fry Wednesday Evening

 Ashley & Kay Carter - Genial Hostesses

 Harvin Carter - Promoter
Open Stage

The Thomas Family

The Thomas Family sings mostly gospel music with three cute and developing children who will bear watching as they mature into a serious band.  Meanwhile, Sarah Beth, age 5 holds pitch remarkably well and thrilled the audience. Ethan (14) on fiddle and mandolin and Joel (12) on banjo and bass will continue to develop and mature.  
Michael Thomas
Ethan Thomas

Amy Thomas

 Joel Thomas

Sarah Beth Thomas

The Wilson Family

The Wilson Family, whose development (and friendship) has been a delight for us over the past five or six years continues to improve just as the kids are changing direction and, both sadly and happily,  the band's appearances will become increasingly rare. Meanwhile, Clint and Robert Wilson have done the booking for this growing event, Clint has recently married Kalyn Hall, will be graduating from college, and building a career in the music business. Katie, who wowed audiences with "Five Pound Possum" when she was nine or ten years old, handed the song off to Sarah Beth Thomas last weekend.  Family bands come and grow, and it's been a blast to watch our friends the Wilsons.  Meanwhile, we'll be watching to see what comes next.

Mr. and Mrs. Clint Wilson (Kalyn)

Katie Wilson

Melissa Wilson 

Robert Wilson

 Clint Wilson

The Gary Waldrep Band
Gary Waldrep

Gary Waldrep is a consumate entertainer whose many fans come out to see him. He's reliable, approachable, and fun to watch.  He appeared on both Thursday and Friday at Newell Lodge with his usual fine combination of classic bluegrass, bluegrass gospel, and southern gospel.

Mindy Rakestraw

Donna Townsell

Kenny Townsell

Mickey Boles

Irby Brown - Emcee

Flatt Lonesome

Fresh from winning the band contest at SPBGMA and an appearance at the prestigious Joe Val Bluegrass Festival in Boston, Flatt Lonesome is a young band built around three siblings, the Robertsons of Callahan, FL that put on a solid performance of covers. This band will bear watching, especially as the vocals of sister duo Kelsi and Charli Robertson continue to mature.  They featured strong drive, good harmonies, and stage presence beyond their years. I'm looking forward to seeing more of them as they continue to grow. 

Buddy Robertson
Charli Robertson

 Kelsi Robertson

Dominic Illingworth

Michael Stockton 

Paul Harrigill

Kalyn Wilson & Katie Wilson


Barbwire, a regional bluegrass band featuring lots of original songs, played three sets on Friday and Saturday.


Monroville returned to Newell Lodge by popular acclaim after their strong performance a year ago. Based in East Tennessee, the band grew from a gospel base but today plays a strong combination of driving traditional bluegrass, gospel, and contemporary bluegrass with lots of originals from singer/song writer Daniel Salyer and recently arrived guitarist Eli Johnston. While playing a range of rock and folk based material, the band never forgets its roots in traditional bluegass as signified by its name and sound.  Look for this band to do great things...soon.

Matt Munsey
Daniel Salyer

Matt Flake

Travis Houck

 Zane Petty

Eli Johnston

Monroeville - Foggy Mountain Breakdown - Video

The Snyder Family
The Snyder Family is no longer Dad and a couple of talented, cute kids. It's now Dad, Bud,  playing bass behind two of the most hard working and able young musicians you'll find anywhere along with young Owen who's still cute and unformed and Mom, Laine, who seems to keep the whole deal together.  Meanwhile Zeb (16) and Samantha (13) just keep getting better. Each has won more contests and the associated instruments that go with it than most will ever see. Zeb has spread out from guitar to banjo and mandolin, while Samantha draws wonderful tone from her fiddle and has grown significantly as a vocalist.  Better still, the kids are nice, well mannered, articulate, and thoughtful.

Zeb Snyder

 Samantha Snyder

 Laine Snyder
Bud Snyder

Owen Snyder

The Snyder Family - Creekside - Video

Emcee Irby Brown with Owen Snyder

Irene & Maude Pickles

The Purple Hulls
The Purple Hulls might prefer to be a high energy, deep faith gospel band, but their exuberance and creativity breaks through into a much broader range of both secular and gospel material. Originating in East Texas, Ben Clark and his younger twin sisters Kathy and Penni have relocated to Nashville, where they've  formed a dynamic and highly enjoyable trio.  Playing with a bass for the first time and guest Dobro player Matt DeSpain, they presented a fuller, deeper sound. Their vocals are clear and crisp. The band is a pure delight and should be heard much more widely.
Ben Clark

Kathy Clark
Penni Clark

The Purple Hulls - Welcome To West Texas - Video

Bob & Carol Jeannin - The Flier Folks

J.D. Crowe & the New South

In his mid-seventies, J.D. Crowe continues to tour and while he may have lost some speed, but his banjo playing is still as clean, crisp, and authoritative as ever. His band supports his work, playing many of the great tunes he resurrected with the Bluegrass Album Band more than a generation ago.  Ricky Wasson's expressive voice digs out bass notes many singers can't even approach, while Matt DeSpain is solid on Dobro and Dwight McCall plays excellent mandolin and sings fine harmony and lead.  This weekend at Newell Lodge, J.D. was in fine form, and Clint's crisp sound made the most of it.

Dwight McCall
Kyle Perkins
Matt DeSpain

Rickey Wasson

 The Claw

The Great J.D. Crowe

J.D. Crowe & the New South - Down the Road - Video

Sound-Man Clint Wilson Listening to J.D.

Sunday Gospel Sing

I wanted to get this blog entry up, but come back. I'll be adding a few videos over the next few days as bandwidth permits. - Ted