Monday, March 10, 2014

Newell Lodge 2014 - Review


Newell Lodge lies deep in the Piney Woods of South Georgia, a few miles north of Folkston, and convenient to the thriving town of Waycross, as well as the shore resorts near Jekyll and St. Simon's Islands and Jacksonville, Florida. It has the infrastructure and layout to comfortably accommodate at least a thousand people for festivals and concerts. Host Harvin and Kay Carter, along with their daughter Ashley, provide the utmost of southern hospitality, tasty food, and good service to make the site a perfect place to hold an event or getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily living for a quiet time in the woods. Last weekend, with the audience reduced because of chill weather and access roads under attack from weeks of rain, they tried mightily to continue their tradition, and whatever might have been lacking in physical warmth and dry weather was almost overcome by their cheer and good will. Harvin even went so far as to offer car washing services for customers whose cars caught to much of the areas sand on their way in to the Lodge.

When Thursday proved to be too damp for an uncovered opening evening of bluegrass, the Carters arranged for cover to be provided for the opening evening and for Friday, but the chill wet weather proved to much to draw many people to the performances. Nevertheless, the bands played on and those who came out did their best to enjoy themselves. Late Friday afternoon the skies began to clear. and by Saturday the sun shone brightly, although truly warm weather was still a day away.  Too many people cancelled after weeks of attending events in the rain. They missed willing bands and the efforts of the entire Newell Lodge staff and seven bands to assure a good time for all.  

Big Cypress Bluegrass

Big Cypress Bluegrass comes from the Tallahassee area in northwest Florida, and is familiar to local and regional bluegrass residents. We last saw them at the festival in Perry a few years ago. 

 Randy Lewis

Kim Heirsoux

Randy Slaughter

 Alan Everett

Eric Daniels

Trinity River

Josh Harris

Lisa Harris

Brianna Harris

Sarah Harris

 Mike Harris
John Wayne Oversees the Fish Fry

Kay Carter

Chilly Outside - Warm Inside...and Tasty

Fontana Sunset

Fontana Sunset is a fixture at festivals in the deep Southeast. Frances Mooney, one of the original Daughters of Bluegrass, leads this band with her singing and emcee work. They are a reliable bluegrass group with lots of seasoning and experience.

Frances Mooney

 Rickey Rakestraw

 Joe Kinsey

Brian Morgan

Pam & Bill Warren (CandidPix)

Robert Wilson Shows of His Goat Herd

Eddie Rose & Highway 40

This western North Carolina band, fronted by the fine singer Eddie Rose, represents a style of mountain singing that, I guess, should be called Maggie Valley style. With all its members except one coming from the mountains of North Carolina, and with Eddie's high tenor voice, the band features a distinctive traditional sound beloved by many bluegrass fans. 

Eddie Rose

Seth Rhinehart

David Leatherwood

Gary Allen

Roger Lephew

Melissa & John Bowden

Scott & Amanda Anderson Band

Scott with bassist Danny Smith
Scott Anderson has been a fixture in Florida bluegrass since his days with the Bluegrass Parlor Band. He has toured and performed with many national bands, but now prefers to record and perform with his daughter Amanda. They will be seen at Merlefest for two days next month.

Christian Ward

Darren Wainright

Lamont Goff

Amanda Smith

PSA - If W.a. Pate can Stop Smoking
So Can You!

Ralph Stanley II

Ralph Stanley II tries mightily to continue the Stanley tradition of mountain and bluegrass music, but seems most comfortable singing and playing country music. He's a likable performer, who gives his best.

Ralph Stanley II

John Rigsby

Alex Leach

Eddie Lovelace

Volume Five

Highlighting the weekend were the four sets played by Mississippi band Volume Five. Lead singer, fiddler Glen Harrell has surrounded himself with a talented group of young, effective musicians and has formed an ensemble with a strong emphasis on creating a distinctive band sound and catalog of songs combining traditional bluegrass standards with more contemporary work and material written by the talented young songwriter/instrumentalist/singer Jeff Partin. Patton Wages on banjo is excellent, providing a sense of humor along with his play and harmony singing. Harry Black on mandolin, with his mop of curly hair, is solid while Chris Williamson keeps the beat moving and the energy high. This band has shown steady improvement and very much deserves to be more widely heard. They will be appearing at Merlefest this year, which should give them a good boost. 

Glen Harrell

 Harry Clark

Patton Wages

Jeff Partin

Chris Williamson

Sunday Gospel Sing with the Wilson Family

Singer/Songwriter/Sound Man Clint Wilson

Kaylyn & Clint Wilson

 Unfortunately, Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival has yet to find the audience and approach it deserves. It already has a terrific location with a fine infrastructure in place. It has the advantage of the owner of the facility also serving as promoter. Robert and Clint Wilson have served thoughtfully and effectively as Harvin Carter's right hand men. Clint is developing into one of the finest sound men around. A loyal, though small, core of Newell Lodge adherents already exists and works hard to help draw larger audiences to the site. This year the inclement weather badly hurt attendance. The festival needs a couple of major draws to help bring larger audiences from a wider distance to its wonderful grounds. This fall there will be no Newell Lodge due to a mineral extraction project being undertaken on the site. It can only be hoped that break will provide time and improved capitalization to turn this event into a larger and more successful undertaking.