Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Merlefest 2012 - Sat

Saturday dawned cool and overcast and stayed that way all day, the temperature never reaching much above sixty. We rushed to Greensboro for a memorial service at the New Garden Friends Meeting House in memory of a high school classmate and friend of nearly sixty years. We've reached a point in our lives where we're losing too many old friends. It makes our new life in music, the young people we've met, and the vibrant world we've entered even richer and more important to us.

We stopped at the fine new rest area just east of the Wilkesboro exit on U.S 421 to change our duds, pulled into our parking spot, and hurried through the gate and all the way across campus to get to the Creekside Stage in time for the beginning of Pete Wernick's Jam set, in which he brings together musicians from across the spectrum of his wide acquaintanceship for a true jam which serves to highlight the marvelous skills of these musicians who've never played together but who share an understanding of how music works and the cooperation of the jam creates magic.  Creekside Stage has,increasingly, become the place we spend more of our Merlefest time, knowing we'll find excellent music, often interesting variations on the work of people we know and love, and a quieter, more intimate outdoor setting than other larger, more raucous venues. Here's the story, mostly in pictures.

Pete Wernick - Dr. Banjo

The Jam

Mike Witcher

Jacob Eller (Sierra Hull & Highway 111)

Zeb Snyder & Eric Gibson

 Zeb Snyder & Pete Wernick

Leigh Gibson & Samantha Snyder

Pete Wernick, Sierra Hull, Zeb Snyder

Tara Nevins (Donna the Buffalo)

Samantha Snyder

Sierra Hull

Eric Gibson, Pete Wernick, Leigh Gibson 
 Bill Miller (former Donna the Buffalo)

The Jam Audience

Mando Mania
Sierra Hull, Joe Walsh, Tony Williamson
Sam Bush, Chris Thile

Chris Thile

 Sam Bush

For the past seventeen years Tony Williamson has hosted Mando Mania at the Creekside Stage. Several thousand people find their way down to Creekside and crowd in to enjoy this feast of mandolin picking served up by the very best players there are. Having five premier mandolinists for this year's Mania only served to provide a little more time for each to display the sort of virtuosity the mandolin is capable of. Chris Thile's luminous solo performance, particularly, brought tears to my eyes as the audience sat in complete silence listening to his play and then burst into cheers after a brief moment of sustained quiet. Joe Walsh, of the Gibson Brothers, participating in his first Mando Mania clearly showed he belongs in the company he was keeping.

Tony Williamson

Chris Thile

Sierra Hull

Sam Bush

 Joe Walsh

What's Scott Vestal Doing There?
Wonderful Blend!

Dale Morris - Creekside Emcee

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers have had seven consecutive number one CD's on the bluegrass charts and been multiple award winners at IBMA and SPBGMA for several years. Their song writing is both tuneful and evocative of times quickly passing from our culture as well as drawing content from a variety of genre's and expressing it in a fresh and exhilerating fashion. No one comes away from a Gibson Brothers performance with a shrug; we've never met a person hearing them for the first time who doesn't become an instant fan.  It disheartened us that this fine band appeared at Merlefest for only a single day and has yet to grace the Watson Stage. 

Eric Gibson

Leigh Gibson & Mike Barber

Clayton Campbell

Joe Walsh

A Fan

The Snyder Family on the Cabin Stage

 Doc Watson & Friends

Doc Watson's reputation as a seminal musician and person in American music is fully assured. Winner of seven Grammy awards and recognized as an innovator in guitar styles across several musical genres, he's been a true American national treasure whose achievements will surely last.  It's time to stop exploiting this great musician and human being on the stage in order to promote this festival. 

We've Watched this little girl and her older brother grow up
in the seats in front of us for seven years. It's part of what makes 
Merlefest a great experience. 

The Gibson Brothers on the Cabin Stage

The Punch Brothers

We left in the midst of the Punch Brothers set and missed the Tedeschi Truks set entirely because of our fully realized expectation they'd be presented at sufficient volume to be painful and due to the wet chill persisting into the evening. Nevertheless, we had a quite satisfying day spent mostly at Creekside.