Friday, July 3, 2015

Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival 2015: Saturday & Sunday - Review

Saturday at Jenny Brook dawned bright, clear, and a little chilly with the promise of heat in the air, although the weather forecast looked a bit ominous for later in the day and into Sunday. Since the day audience at bluegrass festivals usually stands as the difference between maybe breaking even and perhaps making a small profit for the event, Saturday's gate is always crucial. The schedule was full of music, workshop interviews, Bluegrass University classes, and Grass Seeds Stage performances along with the band contest included there. Blue Highway was scheduled for one evening performance and the Gibson Brothers, long the favorite draw at Jenny Brook and now even more so with their increased national prominence, were coming. It looked like a great day was coming.

Bob Amos & Catamount Crossing

This very fine band continues to grow on me. Bob Amos brings both broad experience and deep thought to his writing and arranging. Deeply informed especially by the Stanley Brothers music, he's a writer of rare depth whose songs strike chords deep within. The relationship he has with his daughter Sarah, whose rich voice continues to gain in nuance and power, is a joy to behold. The band communicates a deep reverence for tradition while living in today. Catamount Crossing is truly a Saturday band at any festival, and 10:00 AM is way too early to schedule them.

Bob Amos

Sarah Amos

Bob Dick

Freeman Corey

Gary Darling

Steve Wright

Lost & Found

Allan Mills lives along the Crooked Road in Southwest Virginia watching the world go by. Lost & Found has been a significant force in bluegrass music for over forty years. Mills songs and calm demeanor have been there for longer than that. It's significant that the band was a headliner at the first Jenny Brook festival in 2001 and returns for the fifteenth anniversary of the festival this year. 

Allan Mills

Scott Napier

Ronald Smith

Dan Wells

 The Seth Sawyer Band

Seth Sawyer has long been known in the region as a talented song writer and soulful singer, several of whose songs have been recorded through the years. With the release of Green Mountain Girl he has achieved the dream of recording many of his songs while reporting he is hard at it on more. The results of Bob Amos' work with the band in the studio have not only produced a strong CD, but have improved the performance value of this regional band, now settled into a solid four person band with the experienced support of Dave Shaw and Dave "Tex" Orlomoski. Candi Sawyer plays bass and sings some lead vocals. The band has a busy performance schedule in New England this summer.

Seth Sawyer

Candi Sawyer

Dave Shaw

Dave "Tex" Orlomoski

Whole Belly Clams
A New England Delicacy

Big-Time Jam

Grass Seeds Gazebo Stage

Saroyan Kids with Painted Faces

Smokey Greene

Smokey Greene, at age 85, is on his last tour. His career as a performer, singer, songwriter, and promoter in upstate New York and New England as well as Florida is legendary. You can read his account of his life here. Accompanied by his son Scott on bass, Smokey plays a combination of old country songs, bluegrass standards, and novelty songs, many of which he wrote himself. His smooth baritone voice and solid guitar play on his old Martin guitar (Ben Martin) have provided countless fans with entertainment and fond memories.

Scott Greene

Scott & Smokey Greene

Nothin' Fancy

Nothin' Fancy appeared at Jenny Brook with a new member, Caleb Cox, at the guitar and harmony singer position, replacing the recently departed Jesse Smathers. Caleb's fine flat picking and strong harmony singing will fit into the band, as will his lively personality. This band brings humor and liveliness to every event they play at. Whether the setting is a large or small event, or their position in the lineup has them facing a full house or closing to more empty space than any band deserves, it always give its best. They always bring a breath of fresh air to a festival.

Mike Andes

Mitchell Davis

Caleb Cox

Chris Sexton

Tony Shorter

The Trio

As the day wore on, the weather continued to deteriorate, although there appeared to be little chance that the skies would open up during the evening's show. Nevertheless, it was decided to move the show inside, where a pretty good-sized barn could hold what remained of the audience, many day trippers and a few campers having left. And then something special happened. An aura of intimacy was established creating something special that rarely happens at bluegrass festivals. Perhaps it was being forced indoors by the threatened deluge. Maybe it was lights. Or the closeness. For whatever reason, the indoor performances on Saturday night contained a magical quality not easily explained. Photos in this section are taken from both indoor and outdoor sessions.

Blue Highway

Blue Highway came for a single show in the evening. They were greeted with great enthusiasm and performed a single longer set. Blue Highway has had, for over twenty years, a quality of making old songs sound contemporary and contemporary songs echoing the ancient tones. Good stuff!

Wayne Taylor

Tim Stafford

Jason Burleson

Rob Ickes

Burleson & Ickes Go at it Face-to-Face

Jule & Pat - the 50/50 Girls

The 50/50 Big Winner

The Mandolin Raffle Winner

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers once again turned their appearance at Jenny Brook into a personal triumph by just being the Gibson Brothers. Over the years we've seen Leigh and Eric when they're road weary, discouraged, or anxious about something. Never once has any hint of personal concern entered into one of their performances even though the essence of their show and their popularity is presenting themselves as just who they are, two farm boys from northern New York who love bluegrass and country music and do their best to write and sing it through their own special lenses. The intimacy of the barn, and the barn jokes growing out of it were just right. After all, they spent plenty of time in barns in their least Leigh did. Sister Erin had sung one song in the afternoon, and they brought her onstage to sing again in the evening, to huge acclaim and a couple of encores. Once again, they provided a Gibson Brothers moment that Jenny Brook attendees will remember well into old age.

Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson

Erin Gibson LeClair

Mike Barber

Clayton Campbell

Jesse Brock

Leigh & Mike

Eric & Erin

 Eric & Leigh



Sunday continued cold and drizzly, further confirming the decision to move the remainder of the festival indoors. People stayed for the Gospel Sing & Jam and the performances that followed. Most of the vendors shut down, except, thankfully, for the fried dough truck which provided some hot food for those who were packed and ready to go.


BearTracks performed a part gospel and part bluegrass/country set on Sunday morning to open the show with their usual energy and fun loving approach to the music. Pictures of Tom, Julie, and Harry are included in the Wednesday Clem Hawkins Band. 

Scott Hopkins

Out of the Blue Grass

Out of the Blue Grass won the Grass Seed Stage band contest held on Saturday, earning a gig on the Main Stage on Sunday afternoon. They were tuneful and pleasant to hear, playing both bluegrass standards and some material written from within the band. Nice job.

Mac Petriquin

Jeff Belding

Peter Conklin

Bert Wilson

Jenny Brook Kids Academy

The Jenny Brook Kids Academy put on another fine performance. Each year, since Aaron Foster the Kids Academy has grown and continued to improve. Some of them have become real pickers. 

Here's a Link to My Pictures of the Kids Academy Performance. Help Yourself:

Parents and Friends

Zink & Company

Zinc & Company was scheduled for the usually pretty thankless job of performing on Sunday afternoon. They performed their mostly classic country repertoire with zest and professionalism.

Corey Zink

John Rock

Larry Neu

Ray Evans

Nothin' Fancy presented the last set of the day on Sunday afternoon to a surprisingly good crowd. Maybe it was the same size as usual but appeared larger because they weren't sitting under the shade tents half a football field away. Despite chilly threatening weather for the last two days, the fifteenth anniversary of the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival was another success.