Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Jenny Brook Family Bluegrass Festival - 2012: Sunday & Assessment

I sat at the table in our trailer working on my Saturday blog as the sound of "I'll Fly Away" wafted its way through the window calling those who could hear and wanted to participate to Mike and Mary Robinson's traveling Bluegrass Gospel Sing and Jam. The Robinson's have been called to a ministry to the bluegrass community which consists of Sunday morning gospel sings and brief preaching at bluegrass festivals as well as a quiet and effective pastoral counseling program to bluegrass musicians and fans. They attend about 40 festivals a year as well as conducting sings and raising money at churches wherever they go. Many people look forward to singing the old hymns and playing their instruments together at these Sunday morning gatherings before the regularly scheduled entertainment begins.

Mike Robinson

Mary Robinson

Jay & Martha Sheperd and Friend

Aaron Foster & Michelle Canning

 As with all festivals choosing to schedule a four day festival with a Sunday component, the Sawyers are confronted with the problem of trying to hold an audience whose many members need to get home to meet other responsibilities and wish to sleep in after a late night of jamming at the end of a festival. By scheduling a top notch touring band as well as the Kid's Academy, the Grass Seeds showcase gazebo winning band, and other regional attractions, Jenny Brook does as well as any. Still, by two or three in the afternoon, most people have left, and it's time to start dismantling the site, cleaning up, and getting on with real life. Nevertheless, for those who stayed on this absolutely beautiful New England summer Sunday, it was a satisfying and enjoyable day. Nothin' Fancy opened the official program with an all gospel set. I'll cover them later in this entry just to try to hold my Sunday audience.

The Boom Chicks
Winner - Grass Seeds Showcase
Michelle Canning

Michelle Canning entered her fourth year of promoting the Grass Seeds Gazebo stage at Jenny Brook, having just graduated from high school and preparing to leave for the traditional music program at Morehead State University in Kentucky in the fall. Her Grass Seeds program enables pick-up bands from the jamming field and established bands who attend the festival to showcase before an audience and be judged by a panel of professional musicians. The winner of the contest is awarded a spot on Sunday's lineup and may be asked to appear the next year as a paid band.

 Boom Chicks

The Boom Chicks first formed at Thomas Point Beach and decided to compete at Jenny Brook. They could develop into a first rate band,  Meanwhile, they're lots of fun and more than a little good.

April Hobart Jubett

Kelly Stockwell

Grace Van't Hof

Laura Orshaw

Elise Laflamme

Jenny Brook Kids Academy
 Through Candi Sawyer's careful nurturing and the hard work of Aaron Foster and Mike Turk, Kids Academy at Jenny Brook has been resurrected.  This year thirteen kids worked hard and appeared on Sunday with a new crop of kids who develop into the next generation of Aaron's and Michelle's. Next year promises still more growth as more young people see the fun and satisfaction of making music together.

Jenny Brook Kids Academy - Momma Don't Allow


 Here's a link to a Google Album of pictures from the Kid's Academy. Feel free to help yourself.


The Seth Sawyer Band

The Seth Sawyer Band consists of a moveable group of Seth's friends who help him serve as host band for this festival. They specialize in playing traditional bluegrass and Seth's very good songs, some of which have been recorded by other artists. 

Seth Sawyer

 Joe Singleton

Chad Darou

Dave Bevins

Dave "Tex" Orlomoski

Dave Shaw

The Seth Sawyer Band - Rough Edges - Video

 The Jenny Brook University Band

The Jenny Brook University seeks to offer serious students of their instrument something more than workshops do. Offering small group instruction at a reasonable price, the teachers are all experienced performers and teachers. The band also performs on Sunday with a combination of traditional and contemporary music, some of it written by members of the band.

Bruce Stockwell

Tony Watt

Mary Maguire

Steve Roy

Laura Orshaw

Nothin' Fancy

Nothin' Fancy has changed the arrangement of it's stage mics, giving up the single mic format in favor of giving greater visibility to each member of the band without giving up any of its mobility or falling into the trap of the static line of five members favored by so may other and lesser bands.  or stage antics which make it one of the most entertaining bands in bluegrass. The band performed three sets this weekend, each one different and excellent. They opened with an all gospel set on Sunday and stayed to close the festival Sunday afternoon. While relatively few people remained out in the sun, the tents protected a good many folks who stayed until the end.for their fine set. Nothin' Fancy is something funny with excellent instrumentals and lots of production numbers showing off Chris Sexton's virtuosity on the fiddle. Mike Andes writes amusing and serious songs with equal facility. The band, which we haven't seen for a couple of years. has plenty of new material along with favorite bits. It works to keep its material fresh at all times.

 Mike Andes

Chris Sexton

Mitchell Davis

Tony Shorter

Ben Stevens

Nothin' Fancy
Grandpa's Chasing Women at the Local Retirement Home


The Jenny Brook Family Bluegrass Festival has grown each year since its founding twelve years ago. Since its move to Tunbridge it has burgeoned.  It is also the story to the Mathews/Sawyer family's three generation history of promoting traditional bluegrass in New England and the Sawyer family's battle against infirmity and illness. It's the most personal of all bluegrass festivals we attend. People care about the Sawyer family and express their support by supporting the festival in many ways.

The End of a Long Festival