Monday, April 16, 2012

Darin & Brooke Aldridge Music Festival 2012 - Review & Assessment

Darin & Brooke Aldridge hosted the third annual Darin & Brooke Aldridge Music Festival at the Coot Williams Road venue in Cherryville, NC on April 13 and 14 last weekend. Anchored by Darin & Brooke as with the Grascals headlining on Friday night in a single long set and the Harris Brothers joined by Darin on Saturday, the event has shown consistent growth during the past three spring events, despite the early April date making for cool evenings under the tent set in a bowl into which the chilyl air settles each evening.  Promoters John and Linda Hunsacker have larded the remainder of the lineup with local, largely gospel-oriented bands, where what's needed is at least one other high quality national band on Saturday to attract bluegrass customers from a wider circumference as well as a couple more hard driving bluegrass bands.  Further effective work at promoting their event would also help. 

The Golf Outing
On Friday morning of their festival, Darin & Brooke host a golf outing at the Cleveland County Country Club, a lovely course in Shelby, NC. 

Rachel Johnson's in Good Form

 Darin & Dr. B
Rachel and Chris Boyd


The Happy Golfers
Everyone a Winner!

The Grascals

The Grascals are noted for their high energy presentation of a combination of traditional covers from bluegrass legends and new material carefully chosen or written within the band  to complement the band's signature sound. The story of a group of Nashville sidemen coming together to form a band about eight years ago and their subsequent success is well known. The band has been remarkably stable, with major changes coming only at banjo and fiddle. The addition of Kristin Scott Benson to the band four years ago has heralded a run of four successive banjo player of the year awards for her from IBMA.  The vocal trio of Jamie Johnson, Terry Eldredge, and Terry Smith remains strong and high energy. Danny Roberts on mandolin is too frequently overlooked for major awards. By teaming with some country singers and playing in venues not widely populated by bluegrass bands (particularly NASCAR tracks) The Grascals continue to bring quality bluegrass music to places where bluegrass is not necessarily the chosen genre while still playing the festival circuit hard. 

 Terry Smith & Terry Eldredge
Jeremy Abshire

Terry Eledredge & Kristin Scott Benson
Kristin Scott Benson

 Jamie Johnson & Terry Smith

Danny Roberts

 Jamie Johnson
Kristin & Hogan Arrive for Work

Dennis Jones (WNCW-FM 88.7) - Emcee
One of the Very Best!

Mirror Image

Mountain Faith

This family band has shown steady improvement in singing and instrumental work. They've recently signed a recording contract. 

John Robert Morgan

Summer Brooke McMahan

Darin Aldridge's Student Recital

On Saturday morning at their festival, Darin showcases a number of his students in performance. Ranging in age from about eight to well into their reclining years, the students show a remarkable range while getting an opportunity to gain stage experience. This year, the recital ended with a brief appearance by Dr. Bobby Jones playing with Darin, a treat for all who know and love him.

Darin with Rick Dancy

Dr. B

Dixie Moon
The Hurleys

The WBT Briarhoppers
Unspoken Tradition

Unspoken Tradition began at The Bomb Shelter, a local and (in)famous jam locale in Cherryville,  as a jam band consisting of several of Darin's students. They have developed into an entertaining, hard-driving cover band playing largely neo-traditional contemporary music. They recently competed at SPBGMA. While still needing some work to move to the next rank, they represented a refreshing input of drive here.

Nannie's Food Shed

 The Performance Tent
The Harris Brothers

The Harris Brothers, Ryan on bass and Reggie on guitar and suitcase, are a (sadly) largely undiscovered gem hailing from nearby Lenoir, NC. The unique renditions mix blues, rock, jazz, country, bluegrass, and whatever else comes to mind with virtuoso instrumental and vocal work never fails to entertain. At this festival, Darin Aldridge sits in on mandolin, adding a delightful ingredient to the already fine musical soup the duo serves up.  While they do travel from time to time, they deserve to be more widely known. I'll soon be posting several Harris Brothers videos on my YouTube Channel, but can't today because of serious bandwidth problems.

 Reggie Harris

 Ryan Harris

 The Harris Brothers with Darin Aldridge

The Harris Brothers w/ their Dancers

John Holder
The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band has outgrown the festival they host, deserving a site and promotion that better fits their stature. The band has expanded its repertoire, strengthened its personnel, and grown in presentation and stage presence.  Its instrumental quality has consistently risen as each member strives to make this fine band the best it can be.  They are one of the hardest working bands in bluegrass. This past weekend included a (mostly) beginners jam at the Gaston School of the Arts on Thursday evening, a golf outing on Friday, Darin's student recital as well as a performance at their festival and continual presence on Saturday, a benefit performance in Lenoir and an all gospel performance at the Cherryville First Baptist Church on Sunday - an exhausting schedule.  Colin Willis on Dobro puts a new and important piece into the puzzle with fast, accurate, and clean Dobro work. The range of selections the band sings increases to widen and become more interesting. Their CD's and several songs have consistently charted over the past couple of years.
Dwayne Anderson

Brooke, Dwayne, Rachel

Rachel Johnson Boyd

Chris Bryant

Double Banjos
Darin & Chris

Brooke Aldridge

Darin Aldridge