Saturday, May 19, 2012

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival 2012 - Friday

Wow! Friday here at Gettysburg became one of our all-time best bluegrass days since we've been on our Adventure. Taking into account the pristine weather, dry and warm, the spirit of Gettysburg, the extremely high quality of the music, and the general sense of well-being pervading the campground, the day provided many highlights and discoveries. I started my day by walking through the campground where I discovered the group camping area called Berger Hill.  There, groups of families, many of whom have used the same sites for twenty or more years, have established movable compounds which speak of their joy of being here and their sense of community.  Here are some vignettes:

The camping spaces are well spread out and pleasant

Home Made Instrument: The Shitar

The Wheeling Park HS Bluegrass Band
Wheeling, West Virginia

The Wheeling Park High School Bluegrass Band is a school club unaffiliated with the music program there. The students presented an enjoyable set suggesting the possibilities of in-school bluegrass programs to provide an alternative to marching band involving kids in a lifetime music experience rooted in American cultural values.  Teachers Bob Turbanis acted as emcee and Kim Mattis helped provide a beat behind the group.

Isaac Viars

Sarah Fedarke & Mandy Howard

Ben Peace

Kathleen Ott

 Long Road Home

Long Road Home is a Colorado based bluegrass band that, so far in the festival, gets my nomination for surprising band of the event.  Lead singer and super song writer Martin Gilmore has a powerful, penetrating baritone voice. Justin Hoffenberg on fiddle is the band's leader/spokesman along with being an inventive and thoughtful picker. Jordan Ramsey on mandolin also demonstrates innovation and creativity.  Pete Wernick's continuing search for new ways to express his banjo range is comfortable and useful in a band where he is not the central focus.  Ira Gitlin, filling in on bass, demonstrated yet another example of his huge versatility. This was, I think, Long Road Home's first foray into the northeast. Their performance is beyond excellence, and they should be heard much more widely this side of the Mississippi.

 Justin Hoffenberg

Jordan Ramsey

Jordan Ramsey & Pete Wernick

 Pete Wernick

 Martin Gilmore

Ira Gitlin

The Charlie Sizemore Band

Charlie Sizemore's story tells much about his music. He comes from a small, rural county in eastern Kentucky, served for years as lead singer in Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys, and practices entertainment law in Nashville. His music is filled with his love for the characters and character of his home, reverence for Ralph and Carter Stanley, and a sometimes sardonic worldview seen through the eyes of a musician who also happens to be an attorney. The mixture is entertaining, amusing, and touching. This is the first time I've had the pleasure of seeing his work through two full sets. His ability and strength become increasingly evident with increased exposure. 

Charley Sizemore

Josh McMurray

Paul Kramer

Randy & Danny Barnes

Danny Barnes

Randy Barnes


The festival has a wide variety of food and craft vendors. Food vendors offer reasonably priced and very tasty choices with some health ones available. It's a relief not to have the smell of frying funnel cakes permeating the air.  The one great absence is a good musical instrument and accessories supplier. Attendees and musicians are often in need of service and supplies.

The Steep Canyon Rangers

The Steep Canyon Rangers simply continue to improve.  Touring with Steve Martin has helped meld them together in their independent existence as one of the best bands in bluegrass. They write much of their own material. They play with enormous self-confidence from their increasingly large catalog of new and older material, much of it written within the band.  Nicky Sanders screaming version of Orange Blossom Special is brilliant, always a crowd -pleaser. Woody Platt's vocal work has become increasingly warm, and he has great material to work with. The band's gospel quartets are clean and clear. Each member is integral and shows the benefits of having no personnel changes during the past six years.

Graham Sharp

Charles Humphrey III

Nicky Sanders

Mike Guggino

Woody Platt
 Mike Guggino & Woody Platt



Ron Stewart - Inveterate Banjo Tinkerer

The Boxcars

Staffed with some of the best musicians available and lots of tuneful music, The Boxcars are always a pleasure to see as a group and as individuals.  Keith Garret's song writing is outstanding, as is his singing. John Bowman always contributes a stirring gospel number. Adam Steffey and Ron Stewart are multiple IBMA instrumental award winners and the band has also received plaudits from IBMA. Always reliable.

John Bowman

Harold Nixon
Keith Garrett
Adam Steffey

Ron Stewart

Super Jam at the Workshop Stage

Rich and Cyndie Winkleman
Governor's Proclomation 
May is Bluegrass Month in Pennsylvania 

The Lonesome River Band

LRB....How many bands are known just by their initials?  Through more than thirty years, the Lonesome River Band has been a trend leader and continues to provide fresh new sound along with refreshing new renditions of great music from its enormous catalog.  New members fit in changing elements of the sound without changing the electric vibe communicated by this great band. 

 Barry Reed

Mike Hartgrove

Sammy Shelor

Brandon Rickman
Randy Jones

Linda & Hank Janney

 A great day! More tomorrow.