I was worried about how the loss of guitarist Harry Clark might affect the sound of the Roys, who've decided not to replace him and improved the group. The smaller, tighter sound and look they've achieved has resulted in a more cohesive and bluegrassy performance. The Roys have become increasingly entertaining and more musical over the past few months with more to come.
Swinging Bridge, from Southwest Florida, put on a lively show with energy and good humor. Working effectively with single mic, their movement added life and their selection of covers was effective, especially when featuring JR Davis' solo singing.
The Stevens Family is a family band from West Virginia trying to make the leap to national attention. They have some things to learn in order to succeed in their goal. Volume and speed are no substitute for Earl Scruggs' precepts of tone, taste, and timing, which the band has yet to master. Furthermore, a band which begs for applause from the stage probably hasn't earned it. Their small claque of screaming fans certainly doesn't help them. Perhaps their role as a gospel band is more appropriate, where they can take full advantage of their mother Nancy's voice.
Nothin' Fancy's record of entertaining and interesting performance stands as a testament to a band which has made very few personnel changes in its twenty years of touring along with producing a steady stream of recorded work. Their catalog is deep, allowing them to vary the content of each performance, not settling into a highly repetitive niche. Meanwhile, a few of their bits are such fan favorites they cannot leave them out. Their use of single mic and their movement on stage makes their entire show animated, lively and interesting. The supplemental instrument mics they rotate into keep the sound consistent and strong. Many other bands could benefit from a thoughtful study of their choreography. An appearance by Nothin' Fancy always draws in additional attendees.
The Roscoe Canaday Memorial Bluegrass Festival at Dixieland Music/RV Park in Waldo, FL was a success, with a nearly sold out campground. Chill weather dampened the day attendance. This festival deserves fan support as it reaches for more and better.