Friday, May 8, 2015

HoustonFest 2015 - Saturday

Galax Fire Department Memorial to Houston Caldwell

Saturday at HoustonFest was as delightful as Thursday was foul...warm, sunny, light breeze. It was a perfect day to wander the grounds and take in all aspects of this deeply involving festival. Orthophonic Joy was again the focus of the day, so I'll only present highlights that differentiate from Friday's program. It's enough to say that this major project should help tie today's generation of bluegrass, old-time, and country music to their antecedents in music history brought to life by the 1927 Bristol Sessions, the Big Bang of country music, and kept alive by those who care about tradition, history, now, and the future. These are the factors that make HoustonFest an important event.

Fiddlin' Carson Peters

Carson Peters is a remarkably mature eleven year old fiddler. He's poised and polished. Unlike many performers his age, he has a solid, in tune voice. He plays the fiddle with skill and enthusiasm while acting as his own emcee. He bears watching.

Carson Peters

Jamie Peters

At the Camp Houston Youth Stage



Maggie & Bill Anderson - Petting Zoo Wranglers

Cornhole - The National Sport of Bluegrass

Dale Morris - Emcee

Houston Drive

Houston's friends and former band-mates keeping his memory alive by making music together.

Courtney Rorrer

Stevie Barr

Jessie Gregory & Irl Hees

Vendors Row - Food, Crafts & Good Causes


The Clay Hess Band

The Clay Hess Band only gets better and better. Clay is one of the best guitar players and a very good singer. He has surrounded himself with excellent pickers, and uses them well to showcase their own,as well as his, many talents. A good candidate for this year's IBMA's Emerging Artist of the Year.

 Clay Hess

Nick Keen

Irl Hees

Brennan Hess

Cory Walker



Eli Bishop & Will Carter - Backstage

Camp Houston Youth Stage




Jamming Everywhere

The Instrument Petting Zoo


Face Painting

Mountain Park Old Time Band
at the Firehouse Stage



Ashley & Shannon Campbell

Ashley & Shannon Campbell are Glen Campbell's children, now grown and touring on their own. Carl Jackson joined Glen Campbell's band when he was seventeen years old. Ashley is his God Daughter.

Ashley Campbell

Shannon & Ashley Campbell

Carl Jackson & Ashley Campbell


Local Crafts & Band Meet 'n' Greet

Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time

Larry Cordle has written more fine bluegrass and country songs than many performers can sing in a couple of sets. He's also a fine performer himself, delivering his own songs with feeling and conviction while his excellent guitar playing is too often overlooked. While his songs have been widely recognized, his own excellence as a performer is deserving, too. His band is filled with talent and supports him superbly.

Larry Cordle

 Kim Gardner

Mike Anglin

David Harvey

Jody King

Mike Anglin & Val Storey

The Mighty Cord




Off on a Little Trip
Thanks to Captain Mike

The Parking Lot

The Audience



Firehouse Stage - Big White Tent

Camp Houston Youth Stage


Robin Arnold Gets Belted

Ben & Eric Marshall Band
on Firehouse Workshop Stage

Eric & Ben Marshall

Beth Lawrence

Stu Vincent - Emcee

Sierra Hull

Sierra Hull is traveling in new musical directions. It's exciting to watch, and where it's headed is anyone's guess. It's a certainty, however, that no-one can dismiss her as a talented Adam Steffey clone any longer. Currently she's touring for her new recording featuring Ethan Jodziewicz on bass, with Justin Moses in a support role. The music she's created is part jazz, part roots, and all Sierra. Her voice has matured into an instrument she uses with authority and subtlety. Her mandolin play is sublime. Paired with Jodziewicz, who owns the bass, her music is interesting, complex, and nuanced. 

Sierra Hull and Ethan Jodziewicz

Ethan Jodziewicz

Justin Moses





Doyle Lawson Warming Up Backstage with Young Hopeful

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Doyle Lawson has been a leader and an innovator in bluegrass music for more than fifty years. He soldiers on, training young musicians and offering tight, meticulously rehearsed shows featuring lots of fine gospel music and classic bluegrass songs. A Hall of Famer, he truly belongs there. 

Josh Swift

Dustin Pyrtle

Doyle Lawson & Eli Johnston

Joe Dean

Stephen Burwell

Opening Ceremonies & Scholarship Presentations
Galax Fire Department Honor Guard

HoustonFest Executive Director Debbie Robinson
Hayden Caldwell & Tess Caldwell

David Hankley - Chief of the Galax FD & Debbie Robinson

Houston Caldwell Scholarship Winners

Ralph D. Epperson Musical Heritage Award Presentation

Orthophonic Joy Showcase

The second day of Orthophonic Joy continued and extended the presentations begun on Friday evening. This important project, produced by Carl Jackson, recreates many of the songs presented in the original 1927 Bristol Sessions with contemporary country, bluegrass, and gospel musicians. It's a big project and deserved the big stage it was presented on.

Scott Freeman & Jimmy Edmonds

 Corbin Hayslett

Val Storey

Jesse McReynolds, Garrett McReynolds, Carl Jackson & Corbin Hayslett

The Steep Canyon Rangers

Jesse McReynolds & Garrett McReynolds

Graham Sharpe & Ashley Campbell

Finale of Orthophonic Joy Showcase

In the Grandstand



Blue Highway

Blue Highway is a storied band. Over twenty years with the same band, multiple awards, frequent recordings, lots of innovation, a unique sound that's immediately recognizable signal a band that will surely leave a significant impact on bluegrass music.

Shawn Lane

Jason Burleson

Wayne Taylor

Rob Ickes

Tim Stafford


Cindy Baucom & Gerald Anderson with Raffle Guitar

I've seen lots of raffle guitars presented at festivals. Sometimes they are donated by guitar companies like Martin or Huss & Dalton to raise money for a good cause. More rarely, they are made by individual luthiers. This year, Gerald Anderson built a lovely instrument based on a Martin D18 with a HoustonFest design pick guard. It's rare, however, to see the winner of the raffle guitar be present to receive the instrument. I've never before seen a raffle guitar go someone who not only wanted to win it, but was already able to do so. Here Gerald presents the guitar to one of the young musicians who'd been at HoustonFest playing in bands and jamming. The joy and surprise on his face is enough reward for all of us who didn't win it ourselves.

Gerald Anderson Presents Guitar to Liam


The Steep Canyon Rangers

The Steep Canyon Rangers have received national attention through their touring as comedian and banjo player Steve Martin's backup band. The Martin tour has been mutually beneficial, as the Steeps have become increasingly well-known and Martin legitimized as a high quality bluegrass banjo player and composer. But there's a downside for The Steep Canyon Rangers in that they have not received sufficient attention for their development as a cutting edge band in their own right. They've become increasingly tight and thoughtful as a band. Nicky Sanders has emerged as perhaps the most precise and innovative of bluegrass fiddlers, bringing his classical training and personal magnetism to the band. The band has freed itself of reliance on stationary microphones, adding movement and excitement to their performances. The addition of percussionist Michael Ashworth has added exquisite taste and additional drive to the excitement. They've released six band albums as well as collaborations with Martin and, most recently, Edie Brickell. This is a band to see, hear, and savor for themselves. Their writing and performances have reached star quality without anyone else's aid.

Woody Platt

Charles C. Humphrey III

Mike Guggino

Graham Sharpe

Michael Ashworth

Nicky Sanders

Jonah Horton with Sharpe & Guggino

Graham Sharp, Mike Guggino &Woody Platt

HoustonFest Grand Finale

HoustonFest 2015 ended, literally with a bang. The festival was a huge success. The unveiling of Carl Jackson's Orthophonic Joy, Hall of Famers, Grammy Winners, and all those kids. There was also an audience open to a wider range of music than we encounter at most of the festivals we attend. Almost too much to digest. Save the first weekend of May each year for HoustonFest. Next year: May 6 & 7. We're making our camping reservation today!

Jesse McReynolds

Strange Visitor