Monday, August 22, 2016

Podunk Bluegrass Festival 2016 - Saturday & Sunday: Review

From Tent Hill

Grinding heat and humidity with thundershowers threatening, and then finally rain as Del McCoury was finishing his set on Friday evening marked the day, followed by a mite cooler on Sunday, as people packed to leave. Meanwhile, Friday's excellence continue on into the weekend, with strength, variety, and a few fresh faces.

Colebrook Road

Colebrook Road, coming from the Harrisburg area in central, Pennsylvania. With impressive credentials in band contests and individual instrumental competitions, their singing, playing, and song writing are excellent. Many of their songs are written from within the band, running the gamut of emotions and tempos. This good band will be increasingly heard at festivals throughout the middle Atlantic region, into New England and New York and further into the mid-South in the next couple of years. Promoters should consider them for neo-traditional sound, high energy, and winning personalities. As winner of last year's Podunk Band Festival, they won their way into the Podunk lineup. Maybe next year they'll find they may have earned another slot, and more desirable, slot. 

Jesse Eisenbise

Mark Rast

Joe McAnulty

Jeff Campbell

Up on Tent Hill

Tent Hill, rising about twenty feet above the rest of the fairgrounds, provides plenty of shade, a slight breeze, and a good view of the rest of the fairgrounds. It's cool in just about every way. There's usually a jam going on up there as a multi-generation group of campers enjoy their comfort as well as the close proximity of the shower rooms and flush toilets.

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Junior Sisk comes from Ferrum, VA, near the eastern terminus of the Crooked Road, which runs through southwestern Virginia through the part of the state that has nurtured bluegrass and country musicians from the Carter Family, the Stanley Brothers, Sammy Shelor, and Alan Mills along with uncounted cloggers, pickers, jammers, song writers, insrument builders, and more. It drips music. Junior Sisk has long been a member of this community and belongs among its leading lights. When he comes to a festival, you know that genuine country authenticity is on the grounds. Junior has surrounded himself with a bunch of young guns who love traditional music as much as he does, leading to one of the best neo-traditional bands on tour. A corps of contemporary song writers have produced songs right in Juniors musical pocket, including his dad, with whom he also writes.

Junior Sisk & Jason Davis

Jonathan Dillon & Jamie Harper

Jamie Harper

Junior Davis

Kameron Keller

Del McCoury Workshop

Southern Raised

We don't get to hear much southern gospel music at bluegrass festivals in the northeast. This strongly Christ-centered, emotionally moving, inspirational music is more generally associated with the Southern Baptists. This family band consisting of three sisters and their younger brother sang close harmony, played very well, and impressed, in their second set, with a quartet version of Beethoven's Fifth  Symphony. With their mother at the sound board, their volume increased the physical impact of their music. 

Lindsay Reith

Sarah Reith

Emily Reith

Matthew Reith

Song Writing Competition Finalists
Winner Dave McKeon in Center

Jim Beave Presenting Third Place Award

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers
The Vocal Trio
Mike Terry, Joe Mullins, Dwayne Sparks

Joe Mullins has carefully molded his band into a tight, skillful, professional group of singers and pickers who can sell a song. look sharp, and perform effectively. Mike Terrry, on mandolin, is the only original member still with the band, generating good singing and personal warmth on stage. Dwayne Sparks' vocals are heartfelt and thoughtfully delivered. Mullins brings his highly professional radio voice to the role of band emceee along with his fine Scruggs style banjo play. The band is busy on tour and recording, and deserves to be so. 

Joe Mullins

Mike Terry

Dwayne Sparks

Jason Barie

Randle Barnes

Jason Barie & Joe Mullins
Fiddle - Banjo Duet

The Del McCoury Band

The Del McCoury Band closed Saturday night with lightning flashes behind the stage suggesting a deluge could start any moment. Just as they closed their set, rain began to fall, but by then all but the greediest McCoury fans had had their fill. McCoury, for a period a Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe represents an important link to the beginnings of bluegrass, and has always stayed contemporary and forward looking at the same time. He may be the last of the high lonesome singers, and the very best in the genres history after Monroe himself. At age 77, Del can stand on the stage for 90 minutes giving full measure of his strong voice and sunny personality. Still can't be beat. 

Ronnie McCoury

Rob McCoury

Jason Carter

Alan Bartram

Ronnie & Del McCoury

Rob & Ronnie McCoury

Del McCoury

The Del McCoury Band - High on the Mountain - Video

Podunk Kids Academy

Under the enthusiastic leadership of Bill Thibodeau, Debbie Hall, and Sal Sauco, the Rhode Island Bluegrass Alliance has rebuilt the Podunk Kids Academy into an enthusiastic group which worked hard and presented a good, varied program on Sunday morning. 

The Claire Lynch Band

Claire Lynch's music is perfect for closing out a sunny Sunday at a bluegrass festival. Her pellucid singing voice can take her from Bill Monroe to contemporary jazz without stretching her range. Surrounding herself with experience and youth, Mark Schatz on bass provides change of pace as well as his always fine bass playing. Bryan McDowell never ceases to surprise with his versatility and strength on four instruments (at least) providing what's needed. The youngest member of the band, Jarrod Walker, brings strength on mandolin and guitar as well as increased discipline in this band. Claire's choice of material and delivery is always first rate. The only problem with this performance was that too few people stayed to see it, as they headed for home after a satisfying weekend, even considering the heat and humidity. 

Claire Lynch 

Mark Schatz

Bryan McDowell

Jarrod Walker

Mark Schatz & Claire Lynch

The Audience Was There....

...and Seeking Shade

Once again, the Podunk Bluegrass Festival presented a wonderfully well thought out event that offers a bluegrass music in themes and variations representing almost all corners of the music. Festival Executive Director Roger Moss with the enthusiastic hard work and thinking of his Board of Directors and numerous volunteers. Now, having re-established the festival in a desirable location with great sound and almost unlimited space, all they need is cooperative weather to bring it home. Next year.....