Friday, September 11, 2015

Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival 2015 - Sunday: Review

Perhaps the Most Important Person at a Festival

Unlike many festivals where the crowd packs up and leaves on Sunday, Delaware Valley, because it's held on Labor Day Weekend can hold onto people through the last day. That means that many people need pump outs, but here, the porta-potties were consistently the cleanest and best kept of any bluegrass festival we've ever attended. Furthermore, the day was filled with wonderful music, eight acts including two youth bands and six professional ones. The schedule carried through until 6:00 PM. Those who left early missed one of the great treats of 2015, but more about Sister Sadie later.

The day began with performances by two youth groups. The Cab Calloway School of the Arts is a selective public school in Wilmington Delaware which performed with enthusiasm and skill. They were followed by the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival Kids Academy directed by Ira Gitlin with a full staff of dedicated helpers.

Carl Goldstein - Chairman of the Festival Board
Introduces the Day

Cab Calloway School of the Arts - CabGrass

For both space and artistic reasons, I don't post many pictures of the youth bands that appear at festivals. Below is a link to a Google Album of photos I took of the Cab Calloway group. You can download, print, and distribute these pictures as you wish:

Steven Field - Science Teacher at Cab Calloway
Introduces the Group.

Cab Calloway is a public school in the suburbs near Wilmington, Delaware which combines intensive arts education with academic training in the justifiable belief the two are complementary. The kids appearing at the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival played in large ensemble, which is not the best format for bluegrass, but were, nevertheless, charming to see and hear, good representatives for their school and the school's concept. This was their third consecutive appearance at the festival.

Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival 2015 - Kids Academy

The Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival Kid's Academy presented their brief show under the direction of Ira Gitlin and his capable staff. Such opportunities for children of fans and pickers to grow up in the music and making music with each other, sometimes at several events a year, helps them develop their skills and lifelong friendships leading to supporting the music and developing skills extending way beyond playing acoustic instruments. The effects of integrating music into one's personal arsenal of intellectual and manual skills are only now becoming increasingly obvious as music programs in the schools have become de-emphasized. 

The link below leads to a Google Album of pictures of this year's Kid's Academy. Feel free to download and share these pictures any way you wish. If possible, in online use, please give me a photo credit. 

Tater Patch

Tater Patch is an old-time string band, keeping alive the dance tunes of Appalachia and much of rural America formed of early founders and members of the Brandywine Friends of Old-Time Music, the sponsoring organization of the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival. Based in West Chester, PA and Wilmington, DE, the band has been playing together in one form or another since the early 1980's. 

Judy Hough-Goldstein

Marge Sume

Tony Sume

Richard Gordon

Shel Sandler

 Danny Paisley & Southern Grass

Some people on the forums and in list-servs have been complaining that bluegrass music has lost its soul. Anyone who's listened to Danny Paisley's band, now entering its third generation of touring as a traditional bluegrass band, knows such an assertion simply isn't true. Danny Paisley's father, Bob, moved at the age of three to Chester County, PA so his father could work in the mushroom barns which proliferate in the area. Bob worked as a chemist at a rubber plant in Delaware until joining together with Ted Lundy to tour nationally and internationally in his bluegrass band from the 1970's until his death in 2004. Danny Paisley has been nationally known for his soulful singing and strong thumb style guitar playing since well before he assumed leadership of the band. Now, Danny's son Ryan, age 15, has eagerly joined the band. T.J. Lundy, son of Ted Lundy, a co-founder of the band, has returned on fiddle. Mark Delaney on banjo and Eric Troutman on bass round out this fine band that grows on listeners as they listen. Danny Paisley & Southern Grass records for Rounder Records. 

Danny Paisley

T.J. Lundy

Ryan Paisley

Eric Troutman

Mark Delaney

The Railsplitters

A quick look at the tour schedule of The Railsplitters, based in Boulder, CO, demonstrates the reach this young band has achieved in only a few short years. With roots reaching into the soil of Mississippi, Connecticut, New York, Virginia, and Colorado, this band brings youth and musical breadth to its music. They write much of their own music and choose covers carefully to explore a wide range of traditional and contemporary American themes. Their tight harmonies and strong musicianship form a pleasing, even exciting blend. Freed of instrument microphones by being plugged in, they can roam the stage to create a sense of movement and musical conversation. During the next few months, their tour will take them from coast to coast in the U.S. and on an extended tour of Germany. 
Leslie Ziegler

Dusty Rider

Lauren Stovall

Pete Sharpe

  Christine King

King, Rider & Stovall

Lapp's Concession Provides Three Meals a Day
of Good, Wholesome Food

Emcee - Katy Daley
WAMU's Blugrass

Jim Hurst

Jim Hurst courageously insists on following his own unique artistic muse and touring as a solo act, often in a genre that insists on teamwork and bandsmanship. Jim has had extensive touring experience in both country and bluegrass music, touring with Trisha Yearwood in the nineties, and as a member of the Claire Lynch Band. He has twice been named IBMA Guitar Player of the Year and is nominated again this year. His program consists of a delightful combination of instrumentals and songs ranging from the haunting to amusing. A new song "Same Old Moon" brought tears to my eyes. Jim's virtuosity on the guitar and his fine baritone voice deserve attention from promoters seeking a solidly entertaining, even inspiring, show.

Jim Hurst

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Throughout over fifty years in bluegrass music, Doyle Lawson has been one of the best with the best. His style has been imitated and has thrown off numerous bands composed of former members of Quicksilver, either to imitate his style or to create their own. At present, no two members of Doyle's band together equal the age of their leader who still dominates, develops, and integrates new members as needed. Doyle Lawson's "School of Bluegrass" continues to be a creative machine adding new music in both bluegrass and gospel as well as relying on the huge catalog he has accumulated through the years. 

Doyle Lawson

Stephen Burwell

Dustin Pyrtle

Josh Swift

Joe Dean

Eli Johnston

Doyle Lawson

Doyle Talks Cars

Jason & Jesse of Southard Audio
Photo by Katy Daley
Sister Sadie

Sister Sadie was selected as closing band for Delaware Valley this year. One person, after hearing and seeing the band said simply, "This is a kick-ass band!" The band of five took the stage with huge energy and maintained their pace and intensity through high speed as well as intense gospel songs like one of Dale Ann Bradley's signature songs "I Pressed Through the Crowd." When Dale Ann took the stage, she looked like a thoroughbred racehorse straining at the bit as they prepared to kick off the first song. They were greeted with cheers from the audience and responded with huge musical enthusiasm, enough to almost equal their smiles, maintaining that level for their entire set. Noted fiddler Deanie Richardson listens with absolute attention before chiming in with the perfect lick. No one pulls tone from a fiddle the way she does. Bassist Beth Lawrence, not animated, but one of the most reliable bassists in the business was always just in front of the beat. Tina Adair's clear emotive voice and solid mandolin are powerful communicators. Gena Britt's harmony and solo singing is almost good enough to make a listener forget what a fine banjo player she is. Together, Sister Sadie is a powerhouse band in any company. One can only wish they weren't all so busy with other projects that they'd be able to devote large portions of their futures together entertaining and inspiring us. We've seen them three times this summer. Each time they were better. On Sunday afternoon they showed they deserve headliner status next time around!

Deanie Richardson

Beth Lawrence

Tina Adair

Dale Ann Bradley

Dale Ann Bradley

Gena Britt

Programming the Railsplitters and Jim Hurst between Danny Paisley and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver suggests the thoughtfulness with which the program of this festival is put together. Carl Goldstein, a founding member of Brandywine Friends of Old-Time Music explained that, in developing the festival, the Board has never lost sight of its goal of broadening the musical base to be inclusive of traditional American music in its many forms, as they demonstrate the way the pyramid of music developing in this country has expanded. Sunday's marvelous program demonstrates in one day the way the concept of the festival has been carried out throughout the weekend and the history of this great festival. Furthermore, following a history making band which has been winning awards for many years with a band destined to make its own mark shows both foresight and thoughfulness in adhering to the festivals mission statement. 

The Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival was one of the best designed and programmed bluegrass festivals we've ever been to, largely because it builds its lineup and schedule based on an idea rather than merely on who's available and who can be afforded. It takes risks, and carries this off. Finally, we've never before been to a festival for the first time where we felt more welcome or were more fully included in the activities of the event. We both want to thank the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music and especially Carl Goldstein, Howard Parker, and Archie Warnock.