Saturday at Gettysburg started out threatening rain and teased us all day long. It was damp enough to preserve the festival's reputation for delivering rain, but not near wet enough to keep the fans out of their seats, considering the high quality of the bands in the day's lineup. I'll try to give readers a taste of the day, which for us lasted until well after midnight, when the schedule that ran behind all day finally let Volume V, a very good band from Misssissippi get on and off.
Rhonda's always there for her fans, whether she's feels at full tilt or she's sick or tired. a seemingly tireless trooper, she continually works to strengthen her very good band and present a show that's balanced. One of the most generous performers around, each person in her band gets a chance to strut his stuff, too.
The Steep Canyon Rangers have become a standout band as a standalone. Through five CD's, they have developed a highly recognizable sound with most of their material coming from within the band. Nicky Sanders on fiddle is not only a great fiddler, but a fine entertainer, too. The band deserves more recognition as a unit than they have yet received, although their performances have become increasingly interesting and strong. Their tours with Steve Martin may receive all the buzz, but they're more than worth hearing for themselves. Coming together as students at the University of North Carolina, they've consistently improved on every front.
Spanning a period of over thirty-five years with the same personnel except at guitar, due to the sad loss of Charles Sawtelle, Hot Rize toured nationally as a highly popular band introducing many new songs, some of which have become bluegrass standards. They also have found room on the bus for the Country/Swing band Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers from Montana, Wyoming or is it Wyoming, Montana? Because they seldom tour, Hot Rize is often an unknown quantity for new fans, who are quickly won over by their charm, quality, and inventiveness. Joining veterans Pete Wernick, Nick Forster, and Tim O'Brien is Bryan Sutton on guitar, one of the best in the business. A chance to see Hot Rize in action is like sighting a rare and sometimes almost thought to be extinct bird, only to discover that its plumage remains undimmed.