Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Merlefest 2012 - Review Sunday

Sunday dawned bright, clear and warm, promising a much hotter day later on, but perfect for Sunday devotions and The Spirit of Sunday set by Doc Watson and the Nashville Bluegrass Band at our favorite venue, the Creekside Stage.

Rev. Roy Dobyns

Over the years I've avoided Merlefest's Sunday morning religious observance at Creekside, fearing the kind of too doctrinal and sectarian message often found at bluegrass festivals. Instead, I found myself moved and uplifted by the message of Rev. Roy Dobyns, Pastor of the First Baptist Church in Boone, NC.  Mr. Dobyns spoke about the uplifting qualities of music, requested prayer suggestions, and skillfully linked all to the inclusive spirit Merlefest, at its best, represents as well as the importance of Doc Watson's life and music to the world. 

The Spirit of Sunday
Doc Watson & the Nashville Bluegrass Band

The Spirit of Sunday set at Creekside is a long-time tradition at Merlefest with the Nashville Bluegrass Band performing with Doc Watson. As Doc's powers have diminished, no other setting for his continuing efforts provides more loving support for him than this one. The band clearly loves and supports him while the the set draws a large and caring audience which reaches out to Doc in his declining years with love and respect.

Alan O'Bryant

 Pat Enright

Mike Compton

Stuart Duncan
Andy Todd & Doc Watson

 Alan O'Bryant and Doc Watson



Darin & Brooke Aldridge at Creekside

The Darin & Brooke Aldridge band played two sets at Merlefest on Sunday. The first, pictured here, at Creekside and the second early in the afternoon at the Traditional Stage. Those who stayed after Spirit of Sunday for Darin & Brooke's set were treated to an expanded and increasingly energized band which has, over the past year, broadened its repertoire to include a wider range of bluegrass and country music to their core gospel message. The addition of percussionist Jody Call, to be used selectively at certain events, enriches the sound of the band, drawing it more tightly together.  His subtle work never over burdens the other instruments in the band, including that most powerful instrument, Brooke's marvelous voice.

Brooke Aldridge
 Rachel Johnson Boyd

Chris Bryant Playing Bryant Banjo #1

Dwayne Anderson

Jody Call

Collin Willis

Darin Aldridge

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Wildflower - Video
by Devon Aldridge

 Nancy, Hannah & Mark Crowell
Longtime Seatmates & Friends in Rows 19 & 20

 The Benedict College Gospel Choir
Watson Stage

The Little Pickers Stage

Pete & Joan Wernick 
Traditional Stage 

Darin & Brooke Aldridge 
Traditional Stage

Many people may have come into The Traditional Tent to escape the sun, but they stayed to cheer the band which laid down another outstanding set. This band has stepped up to a new level. Look for them!

 Brooke Aldridge

Darin Aldridge

Rachel Johnson Boyd

Collin Willis

Dwayne Anderson

 Jody Call

Chris Bryant & Darin Aldridge

Don Bryan'ts Son Josh Bryant 

Alison Krauss Closes
Watson Stage

Winner of more Grammy awards than any other female performer, Alison Krauss closed Merlefest 25 with a great performance. Called back for encores twice, she concluded with her soulful version of "Down to the River to Pray" from Oh, Brother, Where Art Thou. A stunning ending to a fine day and week.  

Ron Block

Barry Bales

Jerry Douglas

 Dan Tyminski

Alison Krauss

Annual Sand Sculpture
by Sandy Feet

The Exodus - Tired, but Happy

Ten years ago, at our first Merlefest, Maura Shawn Scanlin was a six year old little girl who sat on her parents (Dennis & Charlene) laps and, when she became tired, slept at their feet covered with a blanket while they stayed late into the night. During the years we sat next to the Scanlins in the twentieth row, we always enjoyed visiting with them and watching Maura Shawn, a budding fiddler then, an accomplished one now, grow into a poised and lovely young woman. Among the joys of Merlefest is its continuity and evolution to develop and keep fans like the Scanlins and the other fine people we've come to know. We'll miss the festival, but our time there has passed.

Maura Shawn Scanlin