Saturday, February 23, 2013
Palatka Bluegrass Festival 2013 - Friday
Friday at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch dawned warm and sunny with a feeling, later to be confirmed, that it would be sunny all day and warm right into the evening, always a treat at Palatka, where it can really get chilly at night. Jammers were out in force doing their thing in a variety of configurations. The day parking lot was filling up and people were ready for more music.
The Marksmen a well-established bluegrass gospel and southern gospel band whose music and testimony is ideal for the goals of Rodeheaver and for much of the audience.
Dr. Earle Wheeler
Johnnie Daniell & Shelly Huckaby
Alecia Nugent, the "Hillbilly Goddess" made her Palatka debut showcasing much of her good Louisiana bluegrass material with her pleasant voice and a good band behind her. Beth Lawrence always provides excellent harmonies. blending well with Nugent's pleasant voice. Colby Laney on mandolin is always a pleasure to see.
The Gibson Brothers
The Gibson Brothers took the stage bringing with them a breath of fresh air and wholesome good fun along with great music. The 2012 IBMA Entertainer of the Year, they show what twenty years of hard touring, a distinctive sound, superb musicians at every position, continuity of personnel, and wonderful original material can produce. I've been thinking a lot recently about what makes them the great band they are, eliciting the fan response they do. It occurs to me that the combination of authenticity and risk-taking are the key. I've been watching Joe Walsh on mandolin and Clayton Campbell on fiddle with particular interest. They each seem to be pushing the boundaries with every solo they take, risking a train wreck in delivering performances that take the band and the audience to new heights. Meanwhile, brothers Eric and Leigh, in their singing, song writing, and even their warm and funny bantering, are always digging a little deeper, and in finding new depth they discover new truth about themselves and their music. Through this, they reach into their audience's hearts and souls. Their new CD "They Called It Music" is being released in a few weeks, and can be pre-ordered now through their web site at a substantial discount.
The Seldom Scene
Original Member Ben Eldridge
Forty-one years of not-so-hard touring as well as a deep, varied catalog of songs drawn from a variety of genres and adjusted for a bluegrass vibe that's simultaneously distinctive and, now, traditional have created a legend that continues to thrive and be endlessly entertaining to their legion of fans. The singers and instrumentalists in the band each set a standard of both performance and conduct for others to emulate. They work together as a well-oiled unit melded together by years of performance. Even in their roughest songs, there's an elegance in their presentation which draws in people and invites them to get and stay connected. Never pandering to the audience, they deliver pure entertainment in song.
Gilbert Nelson's Jamming Class
Dry Branch Fire Squad
Ron Thomason's brand of gentle satire and pointed topical humor sets a standard. His elastic face expresses surprise and looks as if he's just discovered a new variant of human behavior that reaches beyond the bounds of his previous imagination. He never insults his audience or talks down to them while he skewers the pretensions and anomalies many of overlook or accept without question. Meanwhile, the singing of Dry Branch Fire Squad explores old hymns and songs of faith with rare insight and a convincing raw interpretation. They also present newer songs of social significance by song writers like Hazel Dickens, a long time Thomason friend. Fans request favorite songs as well as humor bits that they've seen repeatedly, yet which somehow always seem fresh.
Three consecutive acts such as Dry Branch Fire Squad, The Seldom Scene, and The Gibson Brothers at a festival are a treat that few can say they encounter, even at so-called all-star festivals. They differ in sound, vibe, content, and approach. They are similar only in their excellence.