Saturday, May 11, 2013

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Music Festival: Denton, NC - Friday Review

Friday at the Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver Bluegrass Festival provided wonderful warm weather and mostly traditional bluegrass music drawing from differing regional and musical traditions. The attendance grew with kids, dogs, and even parrots brightening the environment. Hordes of teens wandered the grounds, and one could only wish that more of them were carrying instruments.  The Denton festival often feels a lot like a family reunion.

Bill Emerson & Sweet Dixie

Bill Emerson, at age 75, comes from the second generation of bluegrass music, helping to remind us of the history and background most bluegrass fans carry in their musical bones, no matter their personal preferences in current approaches to the music. A founding member of both The Country Gentlemen and the U.S. Navy Band Country Current, Bill Emerson carries himself with dignity, reminding me of my banker whenever I see him. And then he turns on the fingerboard wizardry he still maintains. He's still writing music as well as performing great pieces from his own musical history. Wayne Lanham is plays fine mandolin and offers a strong tenor lead.

Bill Emerson

 Wayne Lanham

Terry Chism

Tom Adams

 Wally Hughes

Stan the Flyer Man 

Mike Lane at Work

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers come by their name honestly. Joe is son of Paul "Moon" Mullins who was a legendary broadcaster in southern Ohio, where the bluegrass and classic country his radio programs featured kept the music alive for the southern immigrants populating the industrial centers surrounding Dayton. Joe Mullins' Scruggs style banjo and extensive experience in both broadcasting and bluegrass have brought him increasing prominence as the success of his business has become able to travel more widely. This has been rewarded by the IBMA, which gave him the Emerging Artist of the Year award to 2012.  Since Joe has been well known among bluegrass cognoscenti since his appearance with superband Longview, this recognition is long overdue. His band is strong with the work of Flatt & Scruggs and the Stanley Brothers as well as new songs written in traditional style. The recent addition of Duane Sparks as lead singer and guitarist has boosted the vocal quality of the band significantly. 

Joe Mulllins

Duane Sparks

Mike Terry

Tim Kidd

Evan McGregor

Joe Mullins

Joe & Shirley Huckaby

Kevin McKinnon & Mason

Balsam Range

It's pretty risky to predict greatness, but if I were a betting man I'd place a big one on Balsam Range's odds of becoming a signature bluegrass band of the early 21st century. Even without standout bass player/emcee Tim Surrett this week, this driving band brought the crowd screaming to its feet with its exciting performance of a blend of classics, band created songs, and classic rock inflected covers of songs. Marc Pruett plays one of the most driving, hard edged banjos around without ever surrendering the smile on his face. Buddy Melton, seemingly fully recovered from last year's farm accident, is singing as well as ever and filled in on bass with complete control, although he later displayed his red/raw fingers. Darren Nicholson must often restrain his wicked sense of humor on stage, but there's nothing funny about his strong mandolin play and singing. Caleb Smith, playing a new guitar he had just finished building, is one of the best flat pickers around as well as being a soulful bluesy singer. This is simply a great band!

 Darren Nicholson

Buddy Melton

Marc Pruett

Caleb Smith

 Just Banjos

 Jim Fraley

Jason Davis & luthier Don Bryant

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

On the door of Doyle Lawson's bright red tour bus, there's an unintentionally revealing notice to those entering. It reads, "Wipe Your Feet." The sign suggests the man...meticulous, a little finicky, demanding, and a fine bandleader/musician. Doyle's career, spanning his first professional gig with Jimmy Martin, time spent with J.D. Crowe's Kentucky Mountain Boys, through eight years with the Country Gentlemen, and the founding of Foxfire, which soon became DL & Q in 1979. Since then dozens, perhaps hundreds of young, able musicians have cycled through this always high quality band combining bluegrass, bluegrass gospel,and comedy in a crowd pleasing combination that's always entertaining. Graduates of the Doyle Lawson school of bluegrass lead and populate more bands than space allows to be counted. Dustin Pyrtle, a fine singer and guitarist is the latest student in Doyle's school, whose faculty now includes lots of very able musicians who've earned their degrees, but declined to graduate.

Doyle Lawson

Corey Hensley

Josh Swift

Joe Dean

Jason Barrie

 Dustin Pyrtle

The Phono Shoot

Junior Sisk and Joe Mullins will soon be releasing a new CD composed of classic bluegrass songs that they've reinterpreted with members of the former Johnson Mountain Boys and other guests. A photo shoot at Denton FarmPark was scheduled to get a picture for the CD cover.

Junior Sisk in Formal Attire

Mike Lane Captures the Moment for History

Junior with Pammy Davis

Setup for the Shoot

Junior Sisk & Joe Mullins

Karen Krider & Mason McKinnon

Lynn & Brenda Butler


Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Junior Sisk has emerged as perhaps the finest modern interpreter of Ralph Stanley's music as well as the originator of  a remarkable body of new material in classic bluegrass style, often collaborating with his father Harry or his cousin Tim Massey. The band is filled with first rate musicians whose commitment to traditional bluegrass in unparalleled. The result is a series of amusing songs of the "she done him wrong" school that are often funny.  The quality of his band has consistently improved with each new addition.

 Junior Sisk

 Billy Hawks

Jason Davis
 Jason Tomlin

Chris Davis

 Chris Davis & Billy Hawks

Golf Cart Brigade

Tomorrow's a travel day for us, so look for the final report from Denton on Monday or Tuesday.