Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Roscoe Canaday Bluegrass Festival (Waldo) - Review

The February festival at Dixieland RV Park in Waldo, FL seems to have been snake-bit by chilly, wet weather. Despite this, an enthusiastic group turned out to enjoy some of their favorite bands presenting highly entertaining bluegrass music. With one or more planned activities each day from Monday through the finale on Saturday night, Promoter Ernie Evans has re-imagined the bluegrass festival as more than a few days of music at the end of the week. By including several planned opportunities for early early birds to eat together, pick together, sing together, dance, and fish together, the week becomes increasingly entertaining. Beyond planned activities, there were lots of people at Waldo who enjoyed jamming. Because of the weather, a number of more private jams were held inside campers, but the performance shed, when not being used for other purposes, also was available. The concept works. The more people who attend, the richer the experience will become.

Greg Bird - Country Karaoki

Open Mic

Ron Gilliam

Kentucky Possum Hollow

Jerry Butler & the Blue J's

Jerry Butler arrived at Waldo with a whole new band and filled with renewed energy.  In a program weighted toward gospel music, Lester Flatt covers, and songs selected from his Hauling Grass album and other bands he has played with, he sang well, as he always does, and testified a good deal.  Old friends Kipper Stitt, a band mate with Pine Mountain Railroad and lifetime friend, on banjo, Scott Karis on bass, and Rodney Worley on mandolin, the band was experienced and enthusiastic, a real step up. Jerry also generously invited talented young multi-instrumentalist Micahlan Boney to perform with the band. She acquitted herself well and bears keeping an eye on. This was the most satisfying Jerry Butler performance I've seen in several years. Look for updates on the band to come soon.

Jerry Butler

Kipper Stitt

Rodney Worley

Rodney Worley, Scott Karis, Jerry Butler

Micahlan Boney

Jerry Butler & Kipper Stitt

Allen's Real Pit Bar-B-Q

I don't often feature a specific vendor, but Allen's Real Pit Bar-B-Que features the best pulled pork I've ever tasted - full flavored and moist without becoming mushy. Scrumptious!

The Gary Waldrep Band

The Gary Waldrep Band is a well-loved regional band in the southeast, featuring lots of bluegrass gospel as well as classic bluegrass, and Gary's wonderful banjo play, both Scruggs style and a powerful, fast clawhammer. Waldrep is a first rate entertainer. Mindy Rakestraw has been with him for years and has a fine voice. Mickey Boles is an animated and driving mandolin player. 

Gary Waldrep

Mindy Rakestraw

Donna Townsell

 Mickey Boles

Gary Waldrep & Mickey Boles

Ernie Evans & Josh Griffith Tuning the Sound

Harold Asher

Emcee Jo Odum


Begun as a side project to enable members to keep busy in the "off season," Sideline is in danger of becoming a major band in its own right. Composed of veteran bluegrass performers who have or do appear with other bands, Sideline has released on CD (Session I) and is working on another, called, unsurprisingly, Session II. Steve Dilling, recovering from a second surgery in less than a year, proved himself to be more than adequate on the mandolin while continuing to be the most engaging of band emcees around. Brian Aldridge is as able on the banjo as on the mandolin and has a strong, true traditional bluegrass voice. Greg Luck on fiddle sings some of his own songs and is always reliable on his instrument. Jason Moore is one of the best bass players around. Skip Cherryholmes is filled with energy and speed. The band is excellent as a cover band, and I'm told will begin including a selection of originals on Session II.

Steve Dilling

 Jason Moore

Brian Aldridge

Skip Cherryholmes

Greg Luck

Jason Moore & Brian Aldridge

Members of Nothin' Fancy Conducting Workshops

Nothin' Fancy

Nothin' Fancy is a musically strong and entertainingly reliable band which works hard and delivers. The band has a wide and deep catalog from which to develop its shows at each venue and it uses it all. We've seen Nothin' Fancy several times already this season, and while some songs are repeated, the whole set list is never the same, and many of the comedy routines feature variations, too. Band members play their roles flawlessly (Mitchell Davis - the bad boy mimic, Tony Shorter - sex symbol, Jesse Smathers - new kid on the block, and Chris Sexton - bringing classical violin to the fiddle and slightly cynical commentator, Mike Andes - Emcee singer/songwriter). Smathers is the only member of the band not to have been with them since the beginning, but he's brought a fine tenor voice, first-rate flat picking, and a touch of silliness that fits right in with the band.

The Trio: Jesse Smathers, Tony Shorter, Mike Andes

Tony Shorter & Mike Andes

Chris Sexton

Mitchell Davis

Tony Shorter

Jesse Smathers

Next year's February Roscoe Canaday Bluegrass Festival has been moved to the Florida Classic Park near Brooksville, FL, featuring a strong lineup, a campground with over 350 electric and water hookups, and plenty of flexible, usable space in a warmer climate, Here are the details. Tickets will be available soon through Evans Media Source.