Monday, October 28, 2013

Newell Lodge Fall 2013 - Review

Newell Lodge, nestled in the midst of the piney woods of south Georgia, just north of Folkston, is one of the most delightful places we go to attend festivals. Owners Harvin and Kay Carter developed it as an equine resort and then decided it would be a good place to hold bluegrass festivals. They chose just the right people to ramrod a bluegrass event when they selected Robert and Clint Wilson to ramrod their bluegrass events. Experienced, knowledgeable, and skilled, this father son duo has performed throughout the region with the rest of their family as The Wilson Family and then widened their influence as Clint has gone off to college, become a published and recorded song writer, married, and continued to extend his interests and skills, becoming one of the best sound men we see in our travels.  The only fly in the ointment is that competition for the recreational dollar in October is fierce. College and high school football as well as the opening of hunting season draw bluegrass lovers to other interests after the long summer of bluegrass, making it difficult to attract a large and diverse audience. The Wilsons have responded to their restricted band budget by identifying up-and-coming young bands and mixing them with popular local bands and at least one band calculated to draw people based on its national reputation. The result has been a festival that's musically pleasing and well organized, although, especially in the Fall, one that has difficulty attracting a large enough audience to grow. Nevertheless, despite the rather cool evenings, we enjoyed our time here and look forward to returning in March.

The Stage in the Live Oak Grove

Open Stage

Irby Brown - Emcee

Midnight Rain

 We last saw the Gandy Brothers (Schyler and Brandon) when they were much younger at Arcadia. They have kept at it, emerging as a young and interesting band mixing contemporary and traditional, secular and gospel music together into a lively and enjoyable combination program of bluegrass music. They have gathered together a group featuring youth, but anchored by experience. It was fun to see their development, and we look forward to their continued work and to the outcome.

 Brandon Gandy

Schuyler Gandy and Brandon

Patrick Carlton

 Brandon Taylor

 C.B. Ewer

 The Trio
Schuyler, C.B., Brandon

Schuyler & Brandon Gandy

The Hold Your Horses Cafe

 The Wilson Family
Robert Wilson

As the family has grown and their interests have developed, the Wilson family, both sadly and gladly, perform less and less frequently. Combining the experienced and high quality vocals of Robert Wilson, who toured with the River Grass Review in the eighties, with the attractiveness of the young and developing kids has been a sure-fire attraction in Georgia and Florida with a sprinkling of attention further afield. Now they sing sometimes in church and here at Newell Lodge, where their loyal audience look forward to hearing them once more.

Melissa Wilson

Katie Wilson

Clint Wilson

Kalyn Hall Wilson

Norman Winter
#1 Katie Wilson Fan

The Thomas Family

The Thomas Family, pursuing a Christian ministry through gospel music, have continued to develop as their children have matured and advanced in their skill level. Daughter Sarah Beth is very high in "cute factor." Sons Ethan and Joel continue to develop their skill levels on their instruments.  This very earnest and attractive family was overburdened by playing four full sets and needs to continue to work to develop its entertainment value to complement its ministry. They are engaging folks who bring a solid wholesomeness to their presence at a bluegrass festival.

Michael Thomas

Amy Thomas

 Joel Thomas

Ethan Thomas

 Sarah Beth Thomas

 Sarah Beth & Amy Thomas

Ethan & Joel Thomas

The Golf Cart Brigade

 Ashley's Stables
 JR Davis & the Bridge

JR Davis is a fine country music interpreter who has lately found himself singing in bluegrass bands, where he makes a versatile and welcome addition. At Newell Lodge he has joined with the members of Sarasota-based Swinging Bridge to appear as JR & the Bridge.  They presented a popular, skilled, and varied selection of country and bluegrass classics and were both entertaining, enjoyable, and well-received.

JR Davis

Chris Bryson

 Bobby Martin

Alan Colpits

 Doug Rowe

Jeff Cisco


JR Davis & the Bridge

Clint & Kalyn Wilson
Time Out from the Sound Board

The Bankesters

 The Bankesters are a good example of what happens when a family band stays together as it grows, develops, and takes advantage of its assets while remaining true to the inspiration that put it on the road originally. Beginning as a family gospel band nearly ten years ago, the family has broadened their appeal by adjusting their repertoire while remaining true to the princples that originally brought them to performing. Father Phil Bankester estimates that their material now consists of about twenty-five percent gospel music while having introduced increasingly secular material into their performances. Mother Doreen insists, however, that they have maintained their insistence upon an upbeat and positive message. Meanwhile, the three daughters' voices have developed and deepened, lending a greater musical appeal to their obvious attractiveness. Eldest daughter Melissa has married, and her husband Kyle Triplett has joined the band while continuing to pursue his education.  It all seems like a formula for success, opportunity, and happiness.

Melissa Bankester Triplett

Emily Bankester

Alysha Bankester

 Kyle Triplett
 Phil & Doreen Bankester

The Vocal Trio
Allysha, Emily, and Melissa Bankester 

 Irene Babysits for the Bankesters

 The Sound Crew
Kalyn Hall Wilson, Wesley & Abby Welch, Clint Wilson

Melissa Wilson on a Chilly Evening

Breaking Grass

Breaking Grass made its second visit to Newell Lodge and, once again, acquitted themselves better than well, offering a delightful combination of hard driving bluegrass, country classics, New Grass Revival covers, and leader Cody Farrar's original songs with enthusiasm and skill. Farrar's supple voice and winning smile present a fine front for this very good band. Meanwhile, fiddler Tyler White and banjo player Thelton Vanderford contribute unobtrusive and excellent instrumental work, and Thelton also sings baritone solos and harmony. Britt Sheffield on bass plays and sings well. Zach Wooten on mandolin does an excellent job. This band presents a winning combination which deserves more attention than it has so far achieved. 

Cody Farrar

 Tyler White

Thelton Vanderford

Britt Sheffield

Zach Wooten

Cody Farrar


Danny Paisley & Southern Grass

When I first saw and heard Danny Paisley at Pickin' in the Pasture in Lodi, NY, I really didn't get what I was hearing. Over the years my appreciation for both his music as well as his skill and commitment in delivering it has only grown.  Danny Paisley toured with his dad Bob Paisley at the end of the careers of many of the first generation bluegrasss innovators. Since Bob's passing he has continue in his steps while continuing to add material in the same tradition, but with new songs. He has now added his own fourteen year old son Ryan to the band on mandolin to continue the tradition. One look at the joy with which Ryan attacks his instrument lets the audience know that there's no coercion in this continuation of a tradition. Ryan's the real deal. The remainder of the band is fine, too, combining youth and experience to create an authentic sound delivered with young enthusiasm.

Ryan Paisley

Mark Delaney

 Doug Meek

 Eric Troutman

Danny Paisley

Danny & Ryan Paisley