The Youth Stage provides a forum for young bands to perform as well as a focus point for a wonderful variety of young pickers to gather and jam.
This band is young and shows real promise. They sing and pick well. All-girl bands are no longer a novelty. These young women were active all over the grounds for two days.
I was impressed with this band last year when I saw them on the Youth Stage and was pleased to see them promoted to the Main Stage this year. Dogwood & Holly is a progressive bluegrass band coming from Lynchburg, VA. Sadly, one of their key members had a final exam on Friday. When was the last time a bluegrass band member couldn't make a gig because of finals? Their instrumentals and singing were strong, and this band bears watching.
Sierra Hull's band has continued to improve as her always fine picking has become more robust while her singing is strong and clear. The band is a real pleasure to see and hear as it roams through a range of opportunities to express its excellence in different kinds of music, while never losing the bluegrass touch. Justin Moses and Jacob Eller are standouts, and Jake Stargell has become an increasingly subtle guitarist to complement his already flashing virtuosity. It's always a pleasure to see Brian McDowell, when he's free to play in Sierra's band, an addition on almost any instrument, his tenor voices blends beautifully in this band.
Singing from this frightening height, the Church Sisters sang one of the most beautiful renditions of the Star Spangled Banner I've ever heard. They sand it simply, with few frills and beautiful harmonies.
Heard mostly in western North Carolina and Southwestern Virginia, this musically innovative and enjoyable band deserves to heard much more widely. The keyboard - bass combination seems familiar, but add Steve Lewis on the banjo and a new sound worth hearing emerges in this jazz inflected group.
Boasting one of the fullest sounds in bluegrass, Balsam Range continues to extend the borders of the genre without ever leaving the traditional audience behind. When the Allman Brothers and Jim Croce sound like they belong in bluegrass, you know you've seen something special. Tiny little Haywood County in the westernmost North Carolina mountains continues to reach out to the world in wonderful ways.
Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys
Dr. Ralph Stanley
James Alan Shelton - Ill But Carrying On