Friday, July 1, 2016

Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival 2016 - Satuday & Sunday: Review

Drone View of Jenny Brooke at Tunbridge

Video by Gordon J. Eglantine

Watch the beautiful drone composite produced by Gordy Eglantine, a friend of Adam Sawyer's, of the entire Tunbridge World's Fair Grounds as they looked on Saturday afternoon. Lots of cars in overflow parking, the new camping area opened across the river on the left side of the screen, the crowd assembled at the main stage, and more. Thanks so much to Gordy for taking this video and allowing me to share it with you.


Saturday's lineup promised to deliver the strongest national bands yet seen together on the Jenny Brook stage. Day trippers started arriving early in the morning, the sky stayed clear all day, the temperature was high, especially for New England, but not stifling. Since both Nothin' Fancy and David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition were covered in the previous blog entry, suffice it to say, each band played two fine sets on Saturday. Here's the show:

Mile Twelve

Mile Twelve, a Boston-based band, opened Saturday morning with a wonderful set of classic bluegrass and contemporary songs written by the band. Their instrumental and vocal work was sprightly, and highly infectious. They fully captured the too small audience, occaisioned by their early performance, single set, and not (yet) well-known name. Evan Murphy, who comes to bluegrass from a folk music background, sings and plays well in addition to acting as emcee for the band. BB Bowness on banjo might seem like an unlikely addition, as she hails from New Zealand. You only need to hear her chops once to know that the banjo is, indeed a world-wide instrument. Bassman Nate Sabat, has a background in choral music adding a fine singing voice and lively personality. Bronwyn Keith-Hynes' background is solidly grounded in old-time and bluegrass fiddle. Well known as a fiddler with major bands in New England, she delivers tasteful fiddling and a fine harmony vocal.  This band has worked hard, done their homework, played at some major festivals, and been noticed by big media. Now it only needs to continue to build a large and loyal audience. Don't miss this band when you get a chance to see them, and ask your favorite promoter to book them.

Evan Murphy

BB Bowness

 Bronwyn Keith-Hynes

Nate Sabat

Coffee Vendor

Kelley Gibson & Friend

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers have paid their dues and earned their way into this evening featuring three of the finest bluegrass bands touring today. With two Bluegrass Hall of Fame band leaders bookending their evening show, the two brothers from rural upstate New York proved again they belong in the elite of today's touring bands. Supported by, perhaps, the strongest side musicians available anywhere, their catalog is long and familiar. At Jenny Brook, where they have performed in every year but one and headlined for a dozen years, the audience sang along, called for old favorites from most of the recordings, and cheered lustily. 

Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson

Mike Barber

Clayton Campbell

Walkin' West to Memphis
Andrea & Denise

A Few Guests for Supper

Photo by Jim Warren

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

Doyle Lawson, resplendent in his finely filigreed Nudie-style suit coat, is a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame. He's been prominent in bluegrass for over fifty years. Since founding Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver in 1979, after stints with Jimmy Martin, the Country Gentlemen, and J.D. Crowe & the New South, the band has established a reputation for fast-paced, meticulously produced, showmanship and first rate recordings, garnering awards and recognition world wide. Along the way, alumni of Doyle's band have left to establish fine records as band leaders and side musicians on their own. He's noted for his performances of gospel music carefully mixed with secular pieces and country wit. The whole creates a crowd-pleasing performance. The current band has  been stable for several years and achieves a level of cohesion growing from both Lawson's discipline and their own musicianship.

Doyle Lawson

Josh Swift

Joe Dean

Dustin Pyrtle

Steven Burwell

Kids Activities

Structured kids activities are provided during daylight hours for young children under close supervision. An appropriate film is shown each evening int he Dodge building. Here's an example:

How to Become a Super Hero: Practice

 Fifty/Fifty & Raffle

50/50 drawings and raffles of items donated to the festival help keep ticket prices as low as possible. This year, thanks to the hard work and puckish sense of humor of 50/50 girls Pat & Julie, payouts on Friday and Saturday exceeded $900 and $1500 respectively, while the girls changed costumes four times a day.

Pat & Julie
Ring the Bell

Blueridge Guitar Raffle Winner

The Del McCoury Band

Nine time IBMA Entertainer of the Year, The Del McCoury Band has four members, each of whom has been recognized by the profession as the top of his specialty. Del has been Male Vocalist of the Year four times, Ronnie McCoury has been named Mandolin Player of the Year eight times, Jason Carter on the fiddle five times, and banjoist Rob McCoury once. Del, at age 77, Del seems to be having as much fun as ever. The band plays for fifteen or twenty minutes of planned material, then Del asks for the audience to request songs. He "hears" requests coming from the audience, and then plays what he wants to play anyway, playing with the audience. He has won two Grammy Awards and is a member of the Bluegrass Hall of Fame.Beyond all the acclaim and awards, beyond the recognition and recording history, above all - Del McCoury is simply a great entertainer! He continues to display the effortless high lonesome sound he had when he was with Bill Monroe as a Blue Grass Boy, while constantly expanding his repertoire and performing with groups you might think are outside his reach.

Rob & Ronnie McCoury

Ronnie McCoury

Rob McCoury

Jason Carter

Alan Bartram

Del McCoury


Sundays at bluegrass festivals are days of leave taking, days of heading home, days of re-entering a world left behind for a few days of fantasy while living in a different, and for most, more preferable world. In our years of attending festivals, only one, Merlefest, proved itself to be successful in holding, even consistently building a Sunday audience. By bringing in mega-attractions like Alison Krauss, the Avett Brothers, or Robert Plant and the Band of Joy, Merlefest filled the audience to the very rear. Jenny Brook, like most four day festivals we attend, is a day of attrition, as most people pack up and leave, while some stay for the gospel sing or the Kids Academy, and a diehard few remain into the afternoon. Nevertheless, for those who stay, Sunday at Jenny Brook can provide a delightful day, fading into a pleasant afternoon while people can pack slowly, hear and make some music, before heading home sometime in the mid-afternoon. 

Bluegrass Sing & Jam
Mike & Mary Robinson

Uncle Pen Attends Many Bluegrass Festivals

The Feinberg Brothers

The Feinberg Brothers from Long Island, NY sing old songs and new songs that sound old. They seem to be developing a market in small traditional festivals and events in a circle extending out from their home base. They work hard to entertain. Their task was made difficult by their place in the lineup.

Rourke Feinberg

Patrick Feinberg

Ronnie Feinberg

Terry McGill

Pete Elegant

The Jenny Brook Kids Academy

Aaron Foster, now finishing his senior year at East Tennessee State University, with a new CD coming out, and a band available to perform, assumed reins of the Kids Academy five years ago and has rebuilt it to the point where they now overflow the stage. The Kids sang and played well. It's interesting to watch the kids begin as small and scared, then develop confidence and skills through the years. Just like Aaron did.

The link below will take you to a Google Album with pictures of all the kids in the Academy. Help yourself to them, tag them, and enjoy!

Aaron Foster

Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters

Amy Gallatin & Stillwaters is a versatile, musically interesting, and able band deserving better than closing festivals on Sunday afternoon. Gallatin is a widely experienced musician who's performed in Montana, where she worked the dude ranch circuit, and for many years in and around New England. For many years, she and her band have made semi-annual tours to the British isles and Europe. Her partner, Dobro player Roger Williams is widely admired and has played and recorded with the best. His son, J.D., on mandolin, is a recent graduate of Berklee College of Music. Erik Levenson is also well-known in New England bluegrass circles. Both their shows were musically satisfying and thoroughly professional, as they gave their best to way too few people.

Amy Gallatin

Roger Williams

J.D. Williams

Eric Levenson

The Trio
Roger, Amy, & J.D.

Roger Williams & Amy Gallatin

And do it comes to a close, but, as we leave the three potent symbols that became increasingly obvious to me as the weekend progressed, remain...waiting for all of us to return next year.