Friday, April 1, 2016

Sertoma Bluegrass Festival 2016 - Review

Sertoma Youth Ranch - Early Morning Tuesday

The Sertoma Pavilion

Sertoma International is a service club dedicated to working to improved hearing and providing hearing aids and hearing education, particularly for youth. As such, the Sertoma Youth Ranch, near Brooksville, FL is an appropriate place to hold music festivals. Ernie Evans has been promoting the Sertoma Bluegrass Festival there for a couple of years. Despite the fact that this year's festival fell on Easter weekend, a time when many people wish to be home with their extended families, this year's event generally represented a step up in the quality of bands, sound, and customer service.

Part of the Operations Team
Ernie Evans, Berna Lou Gibson, Harold Asher

Open Mic on Wednesday Evening

Because so many bluegrass people enjoy entertaining themselves and others by jamming, the open Mic sessions provide them an opportunity to show their fun and entertain others who are there to listen and enjoy. Sometimes really pleasant surprises emerge at these pre-festival sessions.

Campers Begin to Fill the Lovely Oak Grove

Our Convenient Sertoma Cottage

Back Porch Pickers

The Back Porch Pickers are a mostly gospel band composed of local singers who attend the Sertoma Bluegrass Festival and are integral to it. 

Mountain Faith

Hard touring and continued solid practice have molded Mountain Faith into an increasingly tight and entertaining band. Building on their success last year on NBC's America's Got Talent while not resting on their laurels means that this bluegrass and bluegrass gospel band has continued to improve its sound, while tailoring its shows to its audience. As father Sam McMahan wisely recedes into the background, the refreshing youth and natural appeal of the young group forming the core of this band continues to impress. Summer McMahan is a winsome, talented singer, fiddler, emcee. She's surrounded by fine musicians who not only support her, but excel on their own. The result is impressive. If they're going to continue accepting two day gigs, they need to continue widening their repertoire to avoid repetition.

Summer McMahan

Cory Piatt

David Meyer

Braydon McMahan

Jimmy Meyer

Sam McMahan

David Meyer & Summer McMahan

Mountain Faith - Anything to Do With Love - Video

Remington Ryde

Remington Ryde comes from central Pennsylvania, where they've been playing for years and host their own festival annually. Their style features lots of shouting, an unusual combination of off color humor and expressions of faith, and lots of mugging. This style apparently has appeal for some. They were scheduled for two days with four sets.  Most bands, including this one, can't carry four sets. 

Ryan Frankhouser

Billy Lee Cox

Greg Moore

Richard Egolf

Danny Stewart
Promoting Bluegrass and His Cruises

Traditional Location - In a Grove, Near a Pasture

 Dry Branch Fire Squad

Dry Branch Fire Squad is a band which CAN sustain multiple performances over two days, frequently doing so at major festivals like Gettysburg and Strawberry Park. After more than four decades on the road, Ron Thomason's pointed, gentle humor, passion for justice, reverence for tradition, and reliability all show what a distinguished band with a recognizable brand can accomplish. With Jeff Byrd joining the band on bass, and Adam McIntosh returning along with his fine tenor voice and multiple instrument strength, the band has been infused with new blood and rediscovered energy.

Ron Thomason

Tom Boyd

Adam McIntosh

Jeff Byrd

Adam McIntosh

Ron Ham Boning

Berna Lu Gibson & Debi Evans
On Reservation Detail

Todd & Sally Goodwill

Danny Stewart Holds a Mandolin Workshop

Penny Creek

Penny Creek, after a decade of toiling in the fields of pub performing locally, have honed their show, added personnel, and are beginning to emerge as an able regional band providing solid bluegrass music in improving positions in the lineup. Chrisopher Paganoni has been back with the band for a year. He's been joined by Fritz Kramer on mandolin. Paganoni's new song is, in my view, the most sincere and moving tribute to America's military I've heard. Listen to it, below.

Susan Pounds

Christopher Paganoni

Isaac Taylor

Fritz Kramer

Penny Creek - No Words to Describe - Video

Harry & Pam Herman

Calvin Mickey & Ruth Hendershot

 Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road

Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road put on one of the most enjoyable and successful performances we've seen from them in years. Lorraine Jordan was relaxed and having a good time as her band's emcee and as a singer. She seemed well-rested and completely on top of her game. Nice job! Jason Moore's strong bass on Lorraine's left shoulder always keeps the beat driving. Brad Hudson on Dobro fills in the holes and spaces. Tommy John seemed a more confident and full singer than we've seen him be before. 

Lorraine Jordan

Benny Greene

Jason Moore

Tommy Long

Brad Hudson

Lorraine Jordan & Jason Moore

Emcee - Jo Odom

Marty Raybon & Closed Circle

Marty Raybon & Closed Circle has become one of the most reliable and exciting bluegrass bands on the circuit today. Raybon's commitment to bluegrass is complete. While he maintains a foot in country music with the reunion tour of the eighties super band Shenandoah, he refuses to allow those dates to supersede his bluegrass engagements. The addition of Chris Davis on mandolin has added energy to an already energetic performance. His mandolin play and harmony singing are a mavelous addition. Isaac Smith on fiddle has emerged as a fine player while adding a strong bass voice to gospel songs. Marty Raybon, of course, is the center, and should be. The band hits the stage with energy, sings a lot of songs, uses very little time for talk, but there's enough to focus the songs and keep the act moving. Marty Raybon & Full Circle is a full service bluegrass band deserving a much wider audience than it currently has. 

Marty Raybon

Tim Raybon

Chris Davis

Isaac Smith

Luke Mundy

Marty Raybon

Marty Raybon - On A Highway Headed South In Dixie - Video

 Easter Sunday
Debbie Daumer

Debbie Daumer has a solo gospel ministry to recorded instrumental tracks. Her testimony in song is hearfelt, tuneful, and genuine. 

The Dixie Echoes

The Dixie Echoes have been performing for nearly fifty years with spirited gospel music, resulting in over 70 recorded projects along numerous wins at gospel conventions and competitions. They are a storied and accomplished group. A particularly touching moment in their visit occurred after their performance, when they came forward to join Jan and Larry Ladd's gospel jam, held on Sunday at all Ernie Evans festivals. This simple act suggested a depth of the spirit that exceeds any degree of inspired gospel performance.

Randy Shelnut, Senior

Steven Adair - Tenor

Randy Shelnut, Jr. - Baritone

Randy Junior & Chandler Johnson, Bass

Despite a day of iffy weather and the event's having fallen on Easter Weekend, almost as early as Easter can happen. Four of the five featured national bands delivered first rate performances. Penny Creek continues to grow and expand their repertoire and the area in which they perform. There was lots of  jamming, and spirited performances for the open mic. Next year, all Ernie Evans festivals are taking another step up in terms of lineup, while the design, often including a surprise performer on Tuesday, will continue with its week-long offering of activities to keep people engaged and happy. We're looking forward to next year, and expect to see many of you at the first Ernie Evans festival of 2017, YeeHaw Music Fest in the Agri-Civic Center of Okeechobee, Florida. See you there!