Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dumplin Valley 2013 - Preview

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival will run at the Dumplin Valley Campground in Kodak, TN from September 19 - 21, 2013.   Located conveniently just off I-40 at the exit for Sevierville, it combines a convenient setting, indoor stage in what was once a milking parlor for the dairy farm that once produced on the property, full hookup sites as  well as water and electric, and plenty of rough camping. Festival promoters Joe and Mitzi Soward are warm and welcoming hosts. Coming back to Dumplin Valley each year feels a lot like a family reunion. With the move of IBMA's World of Bluegrass to Raleigh, Dumplin Valley still a worthwhile trip across the mountains for us.

New to Dumplin Valley
Donna Ulisse

In the last five or six years, Donna Ulisse has emerged from a twenty year career as a contract song writer and singer of demos for herself and others to establish a catalog of fine recordings of her own songs and an increasingly high profile at festivals around the country.  Her mellow, warm voice and pleasing personality, backed by a high quality band of Nashville musicians have led to higher demand. If you haven't seen her yet, you'll enjoy her as a performer and a person. Donna Ulisse has been nominated as Song Writer of the Year at IBMA.

The Spinney Brothers

Rick and Alan Spinney have expanded their range and their repertoire well beyond their home in the Annapolis Valley of Nova Scotia, where they grew up singing traditional bluegrass and classic country music.  They have toured hard and worked to develop a unique and solid sound as their reputation has grown throughout the country. This year they are nominees for Emerging Artist of the Year at the upcoming IBMA World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC.

 The Roys
Elaine Roy

Lee Roy

Lee and Elaine Roy are from Fitchburg, MA but spent much of their formative years with their grandparents in New Brunswick, where they learned to love and play bluegrass music. During the past three years, supported by a series of young, capable side men, anchored by Clint White on fiddle, they have released three CD's and toured hard to develop a loyal fan base. They perform country tinged bluegrass as well as generous selections from the standard traditional repertoire in pleasant and polished performances. At the Doyle Lawson Festival in Denton, NC they showed the effects of their hard work when their response to a loss of electricity was to come down from the stage and present an all acoustic performance moving up and down the center aisle. This act of professionalism and courage successfully won over much of the audience, who left as fans.

Flatt Lonesome

Flatt Lonesome come from Callahan, FL, just south of the Georgia line, where they began as a family band singing gospel music in churches.  Consisting of twins Charli and Buddy and their older sister Kelsi as well as a corps of young, skilled, and enthusiastic musicians, they have quickly risen in the bluegrass world. They are nominated for Emerging Artist of the Year at IBMA this year.

  Wednesday, September 18
Potluck Supper - 6pm

 Thursday, September 19
Paul Williams & The Victory Trio - 1:30 & 5:30
Paul Williams
A favorite wherever he appears, Paul Williams sang tenor in Jimmy Martin's band and married his sister. Now committed to singing gospel music and proclaiming his faith, Williams brings a pure tenor voice and fervent belief to every performance.
Donna Ulisse & The Poor Mountain Boys - 2:30 & 6:30

Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier - 3:30 & 7:30

Founder of Pine Mountain Railroad, Jimbo has mostly left the road for a position at Dollywood in nearby Pigeon Forge, but continues to perform his driving bluegrass music and to display his fine songs. His "Kings of Orbank" has become a classic.

 Cordle, Jackson & Salley - 8:30 (90 min.)

Three award winning singer/song writers accompanied by one of the great voices in bluegrass and gospel music have developed a road show singing and playing their huge catalog of songs as well as a regular don't miss gig at the World Famous Station Inn in Nashville. 
-Supper Break - 4:30-5:30 

Friday, September 20

The Dismembered Tennesseans - Noon & 7:00

Fletcher Bright

I've heard it said the Fletcher Bright knows more songs than anyone. With his Dismembered Tennesseans, he brings the best of local and regional bands to this festival.

The Spinney Brothers - 1:00 & 6:00

The Little Roy & Lizzy Show - 2:00 & 8:00

Entertaining, energetic, and full of surprises. That's what Little Roy Lewis, after more than sixty years of touring, and his young partner Lizzy Long bring to every performance. There will be some surprises and some favorites every time.

 Balsam Range - 3:00 & 9:00
Caleb Smith

Darren Nicholson

Buddy Melton

In the past five years, this band has emerged from the mountains of Haywood County in rural western North Carolina to national prominence. Their hard driving sound anchored by Marc Pruett's banjo along with beautiful singing from Buddy Melton and song writing from Caleb Smith bring excitement to everywhere they appear. This year they are nominated for seven IBMA awards. Because they have only recently begun to tour widely, Balsam Range is less well-known than they deserve. That's about to end. 

 Rhonda Vincent & The Rage - 4:00 & 10:00
Rhonda Vincent

Josh Williams

Rhonda Vincent remains the epitome of hard work, fine leadership, and entertaining performances she has been for over twenty years. Josh Williams is on the verge of attaining a level of stardom as a singer and flat picker known by very few musicians. Together with one of the best ensemble bands to be found, they always give and keep on giving. Rhonda, one of the great troopers in all entertainment, remains at The Martha White Boutique to sign and pose for pictures with her legion of fans until the last fan leaves.

 Supper Break- 5:00-6:00

Saturday, September 21
The Roys - Noon & 7:00
Flatt Lonesome - 1:00 & 6:00

The Crowe Brothers - 2:00 & 8:00
Josh Crowe

Wayne Crowe

The Crowe Brothers, featuring a traditional mountain sound along with close brother harmonies, bring their unique style and singing from Maggie Valley, deep in the hills and hollers of western North Carolina, a region that has produced bluegrass stars and great side men beyond counting.  The Crowe Brothers help constitute a link to the traditions from which bluegrass springs.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice - 3:00 & 9:00

 Junior Sisk, long one of the foremost tenor singers in bluegrass as well as one of the finest rhythm guitar players around, has accomplished one of the most difficult tricks around. He manages to impart a deeply traditional sound, based largely on the work of the Stanley Brothers and the more recent Johnson Mountain Boys, with contemporary songs written by his Dad, his cousin, and selected other modern song writers. He often effectively sings "she done him wrong songs" that work.

Lonesome River Band - 4:00 & 10:00
Sammy Shelor & Brandon Rickman

Randy Jones

While no original members of the Lonesome River Band, founded in 1982, are still with the band, it continues to present much of it's well-loved catalog, while constantly adding new material to its repertoire. A look at its alumni list shows how influential LRB has been and remains in the world of bluegrass music. A reliable closing band, it often winds up a Saturday night playing deep into the evening for its eager and vocal fans. Sammy Shelor,the third winner of the Steve Martin prize for contributions to bluegrass and banjo, is the current IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, having won the coveted title five times. 

-Supper Break- 5:00-6:00

The Environment
 Lizzy Long & Rhonda Vincent

 Look for interesting things to happen when these two appear at the same festival on the same day. You never know what's coming.

Vendors Row

There's always a good supply of food, craft, and instrument vendors at Dumplin Valley.

Jamming Under the Silos

 The silo jam is a regular morning event for those who may not have stayed up the night before.

Meanwhile, in campsites and around the grounds, there are plenty of high quality jams for people of all ability levels.

An Exuberant Joe Soward
Must Be a Good Day Crowd 

Thoughtful Mitzi Soward

The expansive campground has plenty of water and electric sites as well as still untapped rough camping. The full hook-up sites are usually gone unless you reserve well ahead of time, but it's always worth a try. Call the campground at 865-397-7942 or email at  

The Details

Dumplin Valley is held on a former dairy farm near exit 407 of I-40, just a few miles from the popular Smokey Mountain destination resorts of Seveirville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg not far from Knoxville, Tennessee.  Those planning on coming to this festival, should plan on arriving early enough or staying over to enjoy the delights of these resorts. Joe and Mitzi ask that you keep and deposit your receipts from local attractions in order to demonstrate to potential sponsors the impact of this festival on the region. They hold a drawing for two four day tickets and camping at next year's festival as an incentive to participate. The more sponsors a festival has, the better the lineup can be and the lower the price. For information about camping reservations, click HERE. To purchase tickets, click HERE. For more information about local and regional attractions, check HERE. There's a large Bass Pro Shop within a mile of the Dumplin Valley as well as a very nice food market nearby. 

How To Get to Dumplin Valley
click the link at the bottom of the map
then input your location in A for directions 

Joe and Mitzi Soward are thoughtful, concerned hosts always seeking to continue building and improving their festival by providing the best of what their customers request along with opportunities to be surprised and entertained by new bands that have not appeared to Dumplin Valley before. Located on a former dairy farm in Kodak, TN, the seemingly rural setting is close to all the amenities a camper or tourist could want. Noted for the high quality of its lineup, vendors, sound, and jamming, this is an excellent event. See you there!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Mountain Song Festival - Brevard, NC 2013 - Preview

Brevard Music Center

The Steep Canyon Rangers will host The Mountain Song Festival at the Brevard Music Center in Brevard, NC on September 13 and 14 in the spectacular Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium, an 1800 seat open-sided auditorium featuring comfortable seating and superb sound characteristics. The seventh annual festival features a superb lineup of bluegrass and bluegrass related music selected to please the ears of music fans across a series of musical genres.

 Whittington-Pfohl Auditorium

 The Lineup
Steep Canyon Rangers

The Steep Canyon Rangers all now live in or near Brevard and, except for fiddler Nicky Sanders, are the same band which came together about a decade ago as students at the University of North Carolina. Their national reputation has grown hugely since they've become associated with comedian, writer, actor, musician Steve Martin, often leading people to forget that they're much more than a backup band.  It's been a great deal of fun to watch this group grow in maturity, skill, and appeal as they've created their own sound and much of their own music. The versatile Nicky Sanders on fiddle adds his wonderful command of the fiddle (It's bluegrass or I'd have to call it violin. After all, Nicky's a really fine violinist who plays bluegrass.) Altogether, the band has sharpened its image, refined its sound, and created one of the best bands in the country. As hosts of their own event here in Brevard, they're at the height of their powers.

Nicky Sanders

Tim & Mollie O'Brien w/Rich Moore

Since his days with Hot Rize, Tim O'Brien has had a legendary career as a band man and as a solo artist singing and playing with his unique style and quality. Whether he's with a band of his own, performing as a duo with his sister Mollie or with frequent performing partner Darrell Scott, or as we've seen at Merlefest, holding a crowd in his hands for more than an hour in solo performance in the rain, Tim O'Brien is one of the best. He's currently touring in support of album with Mollie and her partner Rich Moore. The trio can be counted on for a riveting performance across the spectrum of Americana music.

Rich Moore & Mollie O'Brien
The Carolina Chocolate Drops

The Carolina Chocolate Drops have filled a void in bluegrass by introducing audiences to one of the often ignored antecedents to bluegrass music, black string band music. As their web site points out, this band from the Piedmont region of central North Carolina. they have sought to interpret the sounds and contribution of black string band music to the world of American music, particularly bluegrass as we know it. Always entertaining and humorous, CCD offers a deeply researched and thoughtfully conceived performance which teaches as it entertains. 

Carolina Chocolate Drops

Balsam Range

Balsam Range has sprung from the hills and hollers of nearby Haywood County to take the bluegrass world by storm over the past several years. Entirely contemporary and completely traditional, most of their music is written from within the band or for them. They are each virtuoso individual performers who meld together for a band sound ranging from haunting ballads, through driving bluegrass tunes, to soulful gospel singing which is fully their own. Balsam Range has been nominated for seven IBMA awards in 2013.

 Marc Pruett

Buddy Melton

Shannon Whitworth

Shannon Whitworth has been wowing audiences since her days with the ground breaking band The Biscuit Burners. She is currently touring with her own band in support of her latest CD "High Tide."  While she may be seen as a "local," coming from Brevard, she has truly achieved international status.  We missed seeing her at the recent Barry Ford - Kim Cyr wedding in Connecticut, so this will be our first opportunity to see her perform with her own band. 

Shannon Whitworth

Shawn Camp

Every time we've seen Shawn Camp in performance has been an electrifying experience, whether he's playing acoustic or electric guitar, singing as a solo or with a band. Noted as a singer/songwriter in both country music and in bluegrass, his music and his on-stage presentation are indeed formidable. His album "Live at the Station Inn" is a staple in our collection. His band for this performance features Guthrie Trapp on Guitar, Jimmy Stuart on dobro, Chris Henry on mandolin, Larry Atamanuik drums, and Mike Bub on Bass. It's a world beater of a band to support a performer who generates enourmous excitement on the stage. From his driving Fireball to the heart-wrenching "That's Not the Grandpa That I Knew," he can be counted on.

 Shawn Camp & Mike Bub

Singer/Songwriter Shaw Camp

Bela Fleck & Abigail Washburn

Bela Fleck has been both a stellar performer and an innovative force on the banjo since he arrived on the scene with The New Grass Revival in 1981. Since then, he has been at the forefront of many different bands and configurations, including Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, an innovative jazz group. He is widely considered to be the logical successor to Earl Scruggs as an innovator on the banjo, although he long since has left Scruggs style for his own unique vision.  Abigail Washburn has helped the open back banjo move from being a string band folk instrument to a subtle, nuanced tool to accompany her varied interests. It only seems natural that the two should form a musical and then personal partnership as they played together with the Sparrow Quartet, toured extensively in China where they played with traditional Chinese instrumentalists, and more. You can look for pleasant musical surprises when these two banjo stylists perform together

The Steep Canyon Rangers

In addition to all their manifest skills, The Steeps are hosts of one of the finest and most affordable bluegrass cruises around. With wonderful bands along for the ride, this cruise is perhaps shorter than others, but its lineup can't be beat on land or sea. Featuring bands such as the David Grisman Folk Jazz Trio, Trampled by Turtles, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Gibson Brothers, Della Mae, Seldom Scene, The Kruger Brothers, and more, including, of course The Steeps, Mountain Song at Sea may provide the best bluegrass music at see. Be sure to check it out HERE.


Brevard  is a mountain resort town about thirty-five miles southwest of Asheville, NC. Boasting a range of delightful accommodations, quality restaurants, and varied shopping, Brevard provides a wonderful setting for a music festival and offers opportunities for stretching out the weekend surrounding The Mountain Song Festival. 

Information about obtaining tickets may be found HERE.  And you can purchase tickets online HERE. Mountain Song Festival is benefit for the Boys & Girls Club of Transylvania County, NC.  Located on the beautiful campus of the Brevard Music Center,  every effort is made to make the festival adhere to environmentally sound principles.

How to Find the Brevard Music Center
click on the link below this map and then input
your locale for directions

Smoke free and in a covered pavilion sheltering the audience from the elements, Mountain Song Festival provides the best in bluegrass and Americana music from a range of performers, all of whom have roots or branches in bluegrass music. The two days promise a true musical extravaganza. See you there!