Monday, July 8, 2013

Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival: Saturday & Sunday - Review

Saturday at Jenny Brook was busy and fun with good, hot weather holding through the day. The schedule at the Grass Seeds stage was filled, the Bluegrass University active, the Kids Academy rehearsing, and the community involved in all its jamming, socializing, swimming in the river. resting, and talking. The music began on the Jenny Brook stage at 10:00 AM and last until 10:00 PM with hours of jamming to follow. If all worked out, the day would build to a rousing climax on Saturday evening with the Gibson Brothers closing the festival their rising prominence has helped build and which, as far as popularity goes, they might as well own.

The Grass Seeds Stage

Kelley Gibson Opened the Day

Erica Brown & the Bluegrass Connection

 Erica Brown is a singer/songwriter from the musical hotbed of Portland, ME. She has surrounded herself with a group of good pickers, augmented for this weekend by Joe Walsh on mandolin. Though primarily a country/Americana singer, she acquitted herself well with bluegrass and was warmly received.

Erica Brown
Matt Shipman

Reid McNamara

Joe Walsh

Erica Brown & Steve Roy

Sound Man Harry Grant
Knows What Bluegrass Should Sound Like

The James King Band

The James King Band sounds better than it's been in years. James has lost weight and seems to be enjoying himself as he's available around the grounds and at the merch table. His voice has improved with his weight loss and improved eating habits. He's surrounded himself with a strong band of seasoned adult bluegrass musicians who have lots of experience supporting solo artists. It was a pleasure to see Kevin Prater play with the band for the weekend.

James King

Barry Crabtree

Merle Johnson

John Marquess

Kevin Prater

The Bluegrass University

With refinements made over last year's effort, the Bluegrass University began to take off. Under the direction of guitarist and teacher Tony Watt, the program ha seasoned instructors from around New England offering afternoon classes on Saturday to adult students beginning to play bluegrass instruments. Attendance soared this year with better publicity and a higher presence on the festival grounds. Reports from people who attended were uniformly enthusiastic. Even as this years session of the University was ending, the staff was meeting to consider ways to improve it for next year.

 University Headquarters

Kelly Stockwell's Bass Class

Tony Watt's Guitar Class

Aaron Foster Rehearsing the Kids Academy

Aaron Foster

Seldom Scene

There's really not much to say about the Seldom Scene, except that they no longer really deserve their name, as they tour with increasing frequency. Noted for bringing Rock & Roll and Folk Music into the bluegrass repertoire, many people today forget how revolutionary they were when they were founded in 1971 by five very fine musicians whose careers prohibited extensive touring. Now, with banjoist Ben Eldridge as the only remaining original member, The Scene continues to reprise a repertoire its fans demand and know. People sing along with The Scene perhaps more than any other band.

 Ben Eldridge

Lou Reid

Fred Travers

Ronnie Simpkins

Dudley Connell
 The Queen of Jenny Brook and Friends

Using Every Inch....and Dry

Kristin & John Saroyan - New New Englanders

Sally Love Connell & Dudley
watching James King

The Crowd...But There's Plenty of Room for More

Grass Seeds Stage Performance

Raffle Mandolin

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers made news on Saturday night when after an exhaustive national search they introduced Jesse Brock, who had been playing with them and Audie Blaylock all weekend, as their new mandolin player. The announcement drew a standing ovation from an audience which had been rooting for Jesse for several months. Because they feel more at home at Jenny Brook, where they have played each year since the second festival than any other venue. They were relaxed and having fun, playing lots of requests that may not be a feature of their shows around the country where they play for audiences less familiar with the body of their work. It was truly a great evening that had to come to an end, but that left both the audience and the boys happy and satisfied.

Eric Gibson

 Leigh Gibson

Mike Barber

Jesse Brock

Clayton Campbell

Nothin' Fancy Led the Evening Jam
at the Sugar Shack 

Mike & Mary Robinson

As they do at many festivals, itinerant bluegrass gospel preacher Mike Robinson and his wife Mary led their popular and successful Bluegrass Jam and Sing. On this very warm Sunday morning, they had a particularly large and enthusiastic congregation as well as a big group of jammers, many of whom are regulars along the bluegrass trail.

Hot Mustard

Hot Mustard has the distinction of having won the first Jenny Brook Choice Award at the Grass Seeds Stage and has become a welcome addition to the festival lineup since then. They have also become popular at festivals and other venues around New England in the ensuing years, and have enhanced Jenny Brook's reputation for supporting and encouraging new bands.

Bruce Stockwell

 Kelly Stockwell

Bill & April Jubett

April Jubett

Kids Academy Rehearsal

Michell Canning

While she was still in high school in Massachusetts, Michelle Canning, a talented and ambitious regional banjo player and band leader, came to Candi Sawyer with the idea of using the Gazebo near the back of the fairgrounds for a secondary stage for bands to perform on. At first the bands were mostly local jams which took advantage of the stage. However, the program has grown into an opportunity for bands to compete for a spot in Sunday's lineup. They've improved so much, that the winning band should also earn a paying gig in the next year's festival. Michelle is currently a student at Morehead State University in Kentucky in their traditional music and bluegrass program.

 My Bluegrass Romance

Winner of this year's Jenny Brook Choice Awards, judged by a group of professional musicians and a bluegrass promoter, the winning band aquited itself well with a mixture of compositions form within the band and well chosen covers with an emphasis on Bill Monroe.

Jake Henning

  Taylor Smith

Kate Driver

Wells Houdous

 Jenny Brook Kids Academy
In two years Aaron Foster has brought the Jenny Brook Kids Academy back from near death. It's a remarkable achievement for this young man who not too long ago was a member of the same band he now directs. Meanwhile, he's grown into a delightful young man and an accomplished musician. Congratulations!

An Album of Jenny Brook Academy Photos Can Be Found Here:

Two Videos of the Kids Academy Performance Can Be Found Here:

Three Old Timers Know Who To Watch Next

The Smokey Green Reunion Band
Smokey Greene has long been a fixture in New York, New England, and Florida with his band and as a solo act. It was a real treat to see this reunion band perform with Smokey.

Smokey Greene

 Brian Jiguerre

 Jim Warren

 Scott Greene


The Mason Zink Band

Nothin' Fancy

Nothin' Fancy is a veteran band. highly entertaining and pollished. They drew the last spot for the second year in a row and gave a fine performance despite a diminishing audience as people headed home happy and tired on Sunday afternoon.   

Justin Tomlin, Tony Shorter, Mike Andes

Mike Andes & Chris Sexton

Tony Shorter

Chris Sexton

Mitchell Davis

And Another Year End....