Friday, February 22, 2013

Palatka Bluegrass Festival - Thursday


The Palatka Bluegrass Festival opened for its ninth season at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch to the largest crowd ever seen here on a Thursday. The vendor space was completely filled with some familiar and some new vendors. A new bathroom area has been built in what was once the Executive Director's home and will now be the ranch museum. This welcome facility provides relief for the bath/shower area behind the main performance shed for both day trippers and campers who prefer not to use the frequently cleaned portable facilities. A fine opening day lineup helped draw the largest day crowd I've ever seen here. The campground is nearly filled and the weather was warm and pleasant right into the evening. It was a fine day!

The James King Band

 James King

James King arrived at Palatka seventy-two pounds thinner and in the best voice we've heard from him in years. James has had an extremely difficult year with the loss of his eighteen year old daughter Shelby in a tragic automobile accident and struggles with his health. His voice and playing were strong and he brought an experienced band with him that provided the sort of support that turns him from a good singer to a star performer.  We're told that his upcoming CD, to be released in about a month, is wonderful. Make it a point to see James this year.

 John Marcus

Barry Crabtree

Dorse Sears

Merl Johnson

James King

The Crowe Brothers

The Crowe Brothers brought their Maggie Valley brother harmonies style to Palatka with enthusiasm and a full sound. Their traditional sound is raw and hard edged delivered with speed and confidence. Their song choices are a combination of familiar covers and new material carefully chosen to fit them. 

Josh Crowe

Wayne Crowe

Bryan Blaylock

Steve Sutton

Gilbert Nelson Teaching 

 The Bluegrass Brothers

The Bluegrass Brothers are a hard working blue collar band that proves to bluegrass fans that it's still possible to move from jamming in the parking lot to playing on major festival stages. It was particularly nice to see banjo playing brother Robert return to the band. His style and solid singing add a dimension to the band that's been missing. Sadly, band leader Victor Dowdy, responding to an encore request for the gospel song "Working on a Building," gave in to his worst impulses and called the President of the United States a liar in the "if I were a politician" verse. Bluegrass festivals are generally places free of partisan politics where attendees can put aside their differences for the love of the music. 
Victor Dowdy

 Robert Dowdy

Steve Dowdy

Cason Ogden

Chris Hart

Robert & Victor Dowdy

Robert, Victor & Steve Dowdy - Together Again

 Vendors Row

The Grascals

The Grascals, assembled from a set of Nashville pickers who appeared regularly at the Station Inn as "The Sidemen" are approaching their tenth year on the road. The band has been remarkable stable and has retained a high level of popularity. Their allegiance to their original combination of respect and affection for the Osborne Brothers, Jimmy Martin, and Bill Monroe coupled with wise selection of new material written within the band or from contemporary song writers showcases their versatility and traditional roots. Kristen Scott Benson has been named IBMA banjo player of the year in four of her five years with The Grascals. Darrell Webb filled in more than capably for Jamie Johnson, who's recovering from some contagious affliction and will be back soon. 

Terry Eldredge

 Darrell Webb

Jeremy Abshire

Danny Roberts

Kristin Scott Benson

Terry Smith

Irene & John Marcus at the Grascals Merch Table

Nothin' Fancy

Nothin' Fancy has parlayed its combination of covers of Country Gentlemen material, original songs written by mandolin player Mike Andes, plenty of humorous hijinks, and the virtuoso fiddle work of Chris Sexton to create a show band of unusual versatility and long-standing popularity.  Justin Tomlin has ably settled in to the hole left when founding member Gary Faris retired, remarkably consistent band has continued for nearly twenty years with only one personnel change. Their song catalog is deep enough to insure they remain fresh with repeated exposure, a difficult task for many bands to accomplish.

 Mike Andes

Mitchell Davis

Chris Sexton

Tony Shorter

Justin Tomlin

Mike Andes & Tony Shorter

Emcee Sherry Boy

Sound Man John Holder

 Promoter Judy & Norman Adams

Dailey & Vincent

Dailey and Vincent hit the stage with hard driving bluegrass, fervent evangelical gospel, humorous set pieces, and country impressions in a fast-paced melange that consistently entertains. Their program is lively, varied, and hard hitting. Their insistence on presenting a single ninety minute set continues to disrupt the flow of an orderly festival, making it difficult for the bands that have to follow them and for fans to remain after sitting for a full ninety minutes. Their delivery is slick and well-rehearsed. Christian Davis has relaxed considerably on stage and become a much more effective performer. Jeff Parker's fine singing, mandolin play, and seemingly irrespressible clowning are always welcome. Jesse Baker's banjo play is exciting and his impressions dead on. B.J. Cherryholmes says almost nothing, preferring to let his fiddle and mandolin speak for him. Both Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent sing well and keep proceedings moving. According to Jamie Dailey, from the stage, their 2013 show is still in preparation, but seemed already to contain fresh material from the time we last saw them.

Darrin Vincent

Jamie Dailey

 Jeff Parker

 Jesse Baker

 Christian Davis

B.J. Cherryholmes

Christian Davis & Jesse Baker

Jeff Parker & Jamie Dailey

Darrin Vincent