Friday, February 21, 2014

Palatka Blueagrass Festival 2014: Thursday - Review

Early in the morning, the fog hung over the Palatka Boys Ranch camping area, about twenty feet above the crowded in rigs. I ran to get my camera, but the fog settled and there was no picture. Soon, the sun rose, the fog burned off, and one of the loveliest days we've ever had at Palatka ensued. The sun shone without a cloud in the sky, the music began at noon and continued into the evening, the day crowd came, and there was a good sense of the gladness at being back at Palatka for another year, the tenth annual festival in support of the ranch.

Kody Norris & the Watauga Mountain Boys

Kody Norris performs as a part of the large, and widely recognized, Cumberland Highlanders, seen on RFD-TV. In this, his own band, he is able to focus and stand out more, for his fine bluegrass voice and his good flatpicking. Playing almost exclusively bluegrass standards, his arrangements were sharp and crisp, supported by a strong supporting band. His rendition of the The Auctioneer Song is, perhaps, the best I've ever heard.

Kody Norris

Mike Fagin

Jay Tipton

Jason Smith

 John Holder - Blue Ridge Sound

The James King Band

 James King is at the top of his game. Nominated for a Grammy award for his current CD "Three Chords and the Truth," supported by a strong band committed to his work, and singing better and better all the time, he just can't be beat doing what he does best. Noted for wearing his heart on his sleeve, and in his voice, he delivers each song with conviction. This afternoon, after dedicating Echo Mountain to his late daughter Shelby, he couldn't quite get through it, thus endearing himself even more to the very supportive crowd. After gathering himself together, he completed the song with strength. During his second set, there was a loud POP as the power went out. True to both instinct and training, the band trouped out to the middle of the audience to sing several songs before returning to the stage to complete their set and an encore. The entire performance was a show topper!

 James King

Rodney Worley

 John Marquess

Merle Johnson

Jerry Triplett

 Brandon Davenport - Guest Performer

Into the Audience

Rodney Worley & James King

James King

Vendors Row

 The Bluegrass Brothers

 The Bluegrass Brothers are always a crowd favorite for their enthusiasm, energy, and hard edged, seemingly down home flavor. With son Donnie and Brother Robert back in the band, they are mostly back to their original configuration.  Master sound man John Holder took some of the edge out of their sound and made them more melodious than I've ever heard them. They were awarded with a rare afternoon encore. 

Victor Dowdy

Steven Dowdy

 Robert Dowdy

Donnie Dowdy

Chris Hart

The Trio - Robert, Victor, Steven

The Golf Cart Parking Lot

 Larry Sparks

Larry Sparks, this year celebrating having delivered fifty years of wonderful singing to the bluegrass world, seemed a mite cranky today, as he gestured to his watch several times, forgot the name of his bass player, and kept the focus entirely on himself. Regardless of this, his voice remains in top shape as he sings those songs that are a part of every traditional bluegrass fan's definition of what makes bluegrass. The focus has never been on his band, which continues to support him well, but on Sparks and his singing. 

 Tyler Mullins

Bo Lambert

 Jackie Kincaid

Larry Sparks & the Lonesome Ramblers

Larry Sparks

Dailey & Vincent

Dailey & Vincent remain one of the two or three most important high concept show bands working in bluegrass today. Their show, presenting an interpretation of bluegrass, southern gospel, and country music draws crowds into events, often crowds that might not appear for bluegrass alone. Nevertheless, by insisting on doing one long set in the evening, and now sometimes adding the very good singer/songwriter and former Statler Brothers member Jimmy Fortune to their show, they create a nearly three hour block that distorts the format of a bluegrass festival.  After a full day of bluegrass, many fans are too tired for such a performance in the evening, deciding, rather, to leave early. 

Jimmy Fortune

 Jimmy Fortune, performing alone on an empty stage, was impressive as he sang many of the hit songs he had written and performed with the Statler Brothers, accompanying himself on the guitar. He has a wonderfully clear tenor voice and a very pleasant stage personality. He was rewarded with a heartfelt encore for his fine performance.

Jimmy Fortune

 Jamie Dailey

Darren Vincent

Jeff Parker

Christian Davis & Jesse Baker

Christian Davis

B.J. Cherryholmes

Jesse Baker

Seth Taylor

 The Gospel Quartet

Promoters - Judy & Norman Adams