Open Mic evenings can be dreary affairs, filled with pick-up bands and slow tempos. Not here, though, not in North Carolina, where there are competent pickers and solid bands all over the place. We knew it would be chilly, although Thursday evening turned out to be bearable compared to what would come the next two nights. I didn't get the names of the bands or the players in them. If you want to fill me in, just contact me through Facebook and I'll add the names. Meanwhile, there were strong young banjo players, plenty of experience, and good music for the early arrivals there on Thursday evening.
Bethel University in McKenzie, TN through its Renaissance program has consistently shown a commitment to the arts, from dance, to theater, classical music, and bluegrass. Scholarships in the Arts are given much like other schools award athletic scholarships. For the fourth successive year, Bethel sent its bluegrass contingent to Big Lick, this year consisting of two separate bands. The bands represented their university well, both musically and personally.
Over two and a half days of quirky winds and chilled air, Blue Ridge Sound provided very good, consistent sound, not an easy job on windy days.
The North Carolina Bluegrass Association provides people who love bluegrass, whether they live in North Carolina or not, to keep track of what's happening in the state and to support bluegrass music there. Click on the link above and Like the Association.
Balsam Range arrived late (car trouble) to close the afternoon's show. It was already getting really cold with a north wind blowing across the field. Despite the cold, the bands were really showing their professionalism while showing one of the qualities of bluegrass musicians - perseverance. This hard driving band whose music fills an audience with excitement for the members' personalities and the music's hard driving, rock inflected sound. Distinguishing the unique sound of Balsam Range is the range of musical backgrounds the individuals, all of whom live within fifteen miles of each other in rural Haywood County, NC. Ranging from gospel music through country to rock and roll, in addition to their comman background in bluegrass, Balsam Range has created a unique contemporary wall of sound that remains unalterably bluegrass.