Monday, May 20, 2013

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival 2013: Saturday - Review

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.

Springfield Exit Warming Up Backstage

Springfield Exit

Springfield Exit has been around northern Virginia for a while, playing in the area with a group of veteran performers who love classic bluegrass and good singing. It was a genuine pleasure to see Tom Adams once again playing banjo, partially recovered from the focal distonia that forced him to stop. While he says he's still not playing full bore, Tom Adams with two fingers and a head filled with imagination, experience, impeccable timing and always good taste, is a treat to watch and hear. David McLaughlin is playing and singing well and Marshall Wilborn remains the kind of solid bass player who's won four consecutive IBMA awards as bass player of the year. Linda Lay is an excellent singer, while husband and business partner (they own a produce stand and vegetable farm in Winshester, VA) David sings harmony and pulls his weight on the guitar.

Linda Lay

David Lay

David McLaughlin & Marshall Wilborn

David McLaughlin & Dudley Connell (Guest)

Marshall Wilborn

Ira Gitlin Studies a Master

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage

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. 

 Rhonda Vincent

 Josh Williams

Hunter Berry

 Mickey Harris

Aaron McDaris

Brent Burke

Steep Canyon Rangers

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.

Woody Platt

Mike Guggino

Graham Sharpe & Charles Humphrey IV

Nicky Sanders

Charles Humphrey IV

Graham Sharpe

Ron Thomason at the Workshop Tent

Gettysburg is noted for its varied and high quality workshops. Whether it is all-star jams, individual presentations, instrument workshops, songwriter, or others, you can almost always find something interesting going on there.

Volume V

Volume V, coming from Mississippi, is a rising band ably led by Glen Harrell who brings plenty of experience, a fine singing voice, and a strong fiddle to his band. Their song choice is careful and well suited to the band sound they're creating.  Saddled with poor placements in the day's stellar lineup, they held the audience before dinner and after the ninety minute Hot Rize set. Those who stayed to hear them late, gave them a rousing ovation and an encore, despite the lateness of the evening.

Glen Harrell

Patton Wages

Harry Clark

Jeff Profit

 Aaron Ramsey

Seth Taylor Teaching

Hot Rize with Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers

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. 

 Pete Wernick

Tim O'Brien

Nick Forster

Bryan Sutton

 Tim O'Brien, Nick Forester, Bryan Sutton

Often a good indicator of the quality of a band is the other musicians who come out front to see them. Here, Mickey Harris, Josh Williams, and Brent Burke watch Hot Rize.

Josh Watches Bryan Sutton

Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers

 Wendell Mercantile

Waldo Otto & Red Knuckles

Wendell Mercantile & Swade

Waldo Otto


Red Knuckles

Dry Branch Fire Squad and Seldom Scene appeared on both Saturday and Sunday. I'll cover them tomorrow.