Saturday, March 17, 2012

Top of Georgia Bluegrass Jamboree - Friday

The Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia provides a wonderful setting for an early spring indoor bluegrass festival.  The midst of the north Georgia mountains just south of the North Carolina border is convenient for people from four states and several cities.  The lineup promoter Jane Tomlin has provided is first rate, including national bands as well as strong local ones.  The Dillard house restaurant offers sumptuous buffet and family style meals while more modest snack food is available in the Jamboree area.  The audience is knowledgeable and appreciative, enjoying a variety of kinds of music within the genre.  The schedule offers a chance for the audience to stretch between each set as well as a long enough dinner break for people to go to the restaurant or leave the grounds to go to one of the other restaurants in town.  We're glad we decided to come here.
Waiting for the Event to Begin

Balsam Range

Despite the serious injury to lead singer and fiddler Buddy Melton, whom everyone wishes well and sends prayers and thoughts, Balsam Range, the "house band" for the Jamboree gave the audience two bang-up sets on Friday afternoon and evening. Substitute tenor singer Eddie Rose did an excellent job under difficult circumstances. The drive and enthusiasm of this band is almost without equal, and their song selections reflected Buddy's absence, but remained strong. A highlight was the emotionally charged moment when Caleb Smith sang "Trains I've Missed," usually sung by Melton.

 Mark Pruett

Caleb Smith

Darren Nicholson

Tim Surrett
Eddie Rose
Balsam Range - Gonna Be Movin' - Video

The Crowe Brothers

The Crowe Brothers are a traditionally oriented band featuring fine brother singing and the blazing banjo wizardry of Steve Sutton.  The band has been receiving a lot of air play on Sirius/Xm radio recently, helping spread their reputation beyond their Maggie Valley, NC home base to a national and international audience.  Both their sets were well received by the audience.
Josh Crowe

Wayne Crowe
Bryan Blaylock

Steve Sutton
The Crowe Brothers - Take Your Hands off the Old Banjo - Video

Seafood Buffet

The Foxfire Boys
The Claire Lynch Band

The Claire Lynch Band just continues to improve. Matt Wingate, a contest winner on guitar at Merlefest a couple of years ago, joined the band two years ago. Bryan McDowell, who won at Winfield on three instruments in the same day, has now also joined the band on fiddle and mandolin, joining long-standing wizard Mark Schatz.  Lynch herself, has been named IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year three times and continues to sing at the top of her game. This band is musically as good as they get while also communicating humor and huge versatility. Schatz's hamboning and dance always adds zest and vigor, while Claire joined him in a dance toward the end of their second set.  New material is constantly being added to their familiar favorites to keep this band fresh and alive.

Claire Lynch
Mark Schatz

Matt Wingate

Bryan McDowell

NewFound Road
Tim Shelton's marvelous, soulful singing, Josh Miller's multi-instrumental excellence and fine singing, and Joe Booher's virtuoso work on the mandolin combine with Jamie Booher on the bass to create a fusion sound that never ranges too far from bluegrass while reaching out to touch listeners in both their ears and hearts. The band has become increasingly disciplined and thus increasingly good as it continues to do fine work while adding new material. 

Tim Shelton

Josh Miller

Joe Booher

NewFound Road - How I Got to Memphis - Video
Jane Tomlin - Promoter

A Quiet Moment's Practice - Bryan McDowell