The great Dale Ann Bradley opened and closed Thursday's show. Five time and reigning IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year, Dale Ann continues to have one of the clearest and most vibrant voices in bluegrass while a new confidence seems to be present in her performances. The addition of lifelong friend and frequent singing partner Steve Gulley on bass, singing harmony, and contributing his own solos has relieved Dale Ann of some of the pressures of having the whole show on her shoulders, freeing her to sing even better. It was also a real pleasure to hear Dale Ann in a solo performance on the Americana/workshop stage sing some of her favorite songs as well as requests. Accompanying herself, seated and interacting informally with a too small audience, she was simply superb. Dale Ann Bradley is a true treasure to bluegrass music.
Hot Mustard is a somewhat unusual band in that it features two - count them...two, banjos. With Bruce Stockwell, a virtually unknown, except among the top banjo players in the country, banjo master and his former student Bill Jubett on banjo, it works. April Hobart Jubett, fresh back from childbirth, is a fine traditional singer, and Bruce's wife Kelly has become an excellent bass player. The band is well-liked regionally, and deserves further attention.
This engaging folk duo, Laura Wortman and Kagey Parrish, presented a low keyed, pleasant set, and will be seen on the Americana/Folk Stage on Friday. Based in southwestern Virginia, they combine a mountain sensibility with a contemporary feel.