Monday, July 1, 2013

Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival: Wednesday and Thursday - Review

We arrive at the Tunbridge World's Fair Grounds on Monday afternoon of Jenny Brook week to help with setup. The grounds, surrounded by the low hills of the gentle Green Mountains of Vermont, lie in the isolated valley of the young White River. The peacefulness of scene soon becomes a busy center devoted to turning the fairgrounds into a busy village which, by the weekend, will have a population exceeding a thousand people. Throughout the weekend the weather forecast was calling for everything from scattered showers, through thunderstorms, to a deluge of rain.  After a big rainstorm on Wednesday afternoon, we didn't see any daytime or evening rain until Sunday. It rained during the night almost every day, the rain on the roof of our camper just helping us sleep better.

Some People Love the Rain

Every Wednesday at Jenny Brook there's a pot luck supper for early arrivals and staff. There's usually plenty of good food, greeting old friends and meeting new ones, and a country band to provide music and dancing. This year The Clem Hawkins Revival Band was providing the entertainment....Ho, Hum...never heard of 'em. But wait, the band is composed of a Jenny Brook favorite, Beartracks, with brother/sister duo Tom Venne and Julie Hogan, the great Junior Barber on lap steel, Bob Newton on drums, and...yes...isn't that Eric Gibson playing the Telecaster. Maybe they'll be worth watching.

The Clem Hawkins Revival Band

Tom Venne

Julie Hogan

Bob Newton

Junior Barber

Eric Gibson

Julie Hogan


Kelley Gibson
 Proud Dad

 Amy, Robin, & Dave "Tex" Orlomoski

The event was without a doubt the best attended and most participated in Pot Luck in Jenny Brook history. The band was lively and excellent, the dancing vigorous and fun. Kelley Gibson made his debut behind the mic to lots of applause, and the presence of Eric Gibson may have contributed to the enthusiasm. It was a wonderful way to start the festival.


Thursday at bluegrass festivals often involves spending most of the day waiting...waiting for people to arrive, waiting for the music to begin, waiting for jam buddies to arrive.  Rigs had been let into the park starting Tuesday evening to relieve the lineup at the gate, but there were still plenty of people coming in with lots of meeting and greeting.  Thursday's music schedule began at 3:00 PM with the Family Tradition, a band consisting of descendents of Fernand Parker, Candi Sawyer's grandfather, who produced bluegrass events at the Weston Playhouse for many years. Brenda Mathews, his daughter, along with other members of the Sawyer Family and long-time friends performed songs that have been family favorites as well as some of Seth Sawyer's songs.
Family Tradition

Brenda Mathews

 Seth Sawyer

 Mathew Sawyer

 Adam & Seth Sawyer

Gary Hutchins

Steve Hennig

Rich Heep

Matt Sawyer

The Sun Gets Hot

Brian Fitzpatrick, B.J. McGee, & Candi Sawyer Look On

Adam Sawyer & Brenda Mathews

Tribute to the late Alice Waters
Bluegrass #1 Fan 

Joe Mulllins & the Radio Ramblers

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers, IBMA 2012 Emerging Artist of the Year, made their debut performance at Jenny Brook and delivered one of the most enjoyable pair of sets I've heard from this often quite earnest band. It was light hearted and full of good, traditional bluegrass music. They were well received by an audience which swelled during their second set.  The addition of Dwayne Sparks on guitar and vocals has made a significant addition to Mullins' band.
 Joe Mullins

Mike Terry

Evan McGregor

Tim Kidd

Dwayne Sparks

Plenty of Food & Craft Vendors

The 50/50 Girls
Some Shares Reached Over $800  

 I Think He's Sending a Message....

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out

 Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out have a history of longevity and continuity few bands can equal. It is said that there are no second chances. This wonderfully musical band daily proves that the saying is not true. In the nineties and beyond they were seven time IBMA Vocal Group of the Year while Russell Moore was twice named male vocalist of the year, then after more than a decade, he has won three more consecutive male vocalist awards. This band is not only remarkably consistent, it remains entertaining, even when seen quite frequently.  Steve Dilling's always warm and friendly emcee work helps keep moving the show along with dispatch and skill. I expect to see Wayne Benson, on mandolin, garnering several nominations this year.

Russell Moore

 Steve Dilling

 Wayne Benson

Justin Haynes
Edgar Looudermilk

Russell Moore & Edgar Loudermilk

The Central Vermont Maple Sugar Producers sponsor a Sugar Shack where they sell a variety of maple products as well as wonderful breakfasts. It has become traditional for a band to lead a large group jam in the evening after the final show. On Thursday night, Hot Mustard held forth with a good turnout of both jammers and spectators. Musicians are welcome to bring their instruments and join in playing with the pros. It looks like an enjoyable experience for both.

 More tomorrow.