The Parker Hill road band offers a very pleasant combination of traditional bluegrass mixed with bluegrassed more contemporary music. They feature tight four part harmonies and quality instrumental work characterized by good timing and listenability. They offered a good start to a fine Saturday at 10:00 AM.
The Sugar Shack Campground has recently received its state campground certificate and has plans for improvements which will never compromise the natural beauty and setting along the Pemmigewassett, which originates in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, flows through Franconia Notch to merge with the Merrimack River later. The resulting "Pemi" river, as it is known, has created a verdant river valley which provides a convenient route for I-93 to bring visitors to the summer resorts and winter skiing in northern New Hampshire as well as easy access to the Pemi Valley Bluegrass Festival. Back along the river, many large, quiet campsites can be found for family camping, bluegrass fellowship, and picking. There are open meadows convenient for larger campers seeking less privacy. The campground has a few electric hookups, but no water or sewer sites. Plans are afoot, we understand, for a bath house and a few other amenities, but simple camping and the attractiveness of nature are the major attractions here...plus the music. The festival provides a shuttle bus to jitney campers to the main stage, but it's an easy and pleasant walk through the woods. Flashlights might seem to be a good idea at night.
Some years ago, Skip Gorman and Richard Starkey were a mainstay at New England bluegrass events. Although they seldom perform any longer, their appearance was a much anticipated and welcomed event for this savvy New England audience.
There seems to be almost unlimited space for rigs and setups of any size to camp at Sugar Shack. Whether you prefer quiet and shade or more wide open settings, there are wonderful sites to choose from. As I stood on the plateau and looked around, I could see no buildings on the hill sides. This area's natural beauty has not been destroyed by rampant development. What a pleasure!
Now in his mid-eighties, Smokey Greene continues to appear at New England and New York bluegrass festivals during the summer and can still be heard in Florida in winter. His beloved combination of humorous novelty songs and classic country standards attracts plenty of fans. Backed by his son Scott on bass and playing Ben A. Martin, his battered old D-18, Smokey continues to soldier on.
It's been a couple of years since we have seen Southern Rail, and I had allowed myself to forget how very good they are. They play classic bluegrass with the best of them as well as lacing their performances with gospel songs featuring their excellent four part harmonies and more folk oriented material that lends variety and color to their performances. Southern Rail has been a mainstay at New England festival for two decades as well as having produced ten CD's and a new DVD. First rate entertainment.
Tony Watt - Mandolin
We had a wonderful day at Pemi Valley. The leadership at this festival is strong: experienced, far-seeing, and eager to learn more. The site is superb: simple, yet providing sufficient room for almost unlimited expansion. The sky appears to be the limit for this festival whose move to a new location promises nothing but opportunity. We think that opportunity has been given to people who can use it to its best advantage.