Thursday, September 22, 2016
Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival 2016 - Wednesday & Thursday: Review
Dumplin Valley is a festival folks like to come to early and stay a little late. We anticipate getting together with people we haven't seen since last year, or at least last winter. They start coming in on Friday or Saturday, and our first jam in the pavilion is usually on Sunday afternoon. There's a jam there every day until the festival begins, when it adjourns to mornings in the shadow of the silos. Johnny Adams and his sidekick Lamar Hunt lead this open jam, where everyone is encouraged to participate, no matter their previous experience. I always look forward to this jam, because, as a relatively in-expert guitar player (too much time spent writing this blog), I always learn.
Johnny Adams & Lamar Moss
Nightly Jam in Pavilion
Members of the jam are encouraged to participate without feeling too much pressure. When they decide to take a break or lead a song, they get help and encouragement. Jamming is part of the heart of most good festivals. In fact, there are people who purchase tickets, come to the festival while never going to the stage show. They jam, visit, eat, and have their own good time in the festival environment. Without the presence of jammers at a festival, they're less festive.
Sunrise at Dumplin Valley
On Wednesday, anticipation increases as people and rigs continue to arrive, everyone looking forward to the annual covered dish supper and evening stage show with an all-star cast assembled by Promoter Joe Soward from among the expert jammers at the festival. A visitor from Ohio, who had come to Dumplin Valley Farm RV Park for the night, had never seen a jam before. He asked, "Will these people be on the stage this weekend?" I explained jamming to him, noting that none of those in the jam were professional musicians. But on Wednesday night, the stage show is always fun and often presents pretty high quality music.
Joe Soward Asks the Blessing
The Hungry Line
The Stewarts & The Butlers
Our Hostess - Co-Promoter Mitzi Soward
Chuck & Janet Headdon
Wednesday Evening Show
Johnny Adams - Mandolin Player & Builder
Joe Soward, Jonathan Blair, Rick Crumply
Singer - Kim Wells
Bass - Ronnie Davis
Dumplin Valley Scratch Band - Heaven Sent
The professional music starts on Thursday on Demplin Valley, though, as you've seen, music has been going on here for several days. The day promised to be warm, and the heat inside the barn was always a factor, even though the ceiling fans and the exhaust fan did their best to keep things cool. The day turned out to be a very good opening day with two fine national bands, well rewarded and awarded closed out the day. Here are the details:
Trinity River has been climbing up the charts as its music becomes more reflective of what the entire bluegrass audience is seeking. Lots of gospel music in their show, and they're writing increasingly interesting material. Although still young, several years of touring have made them tighter and experience has widened their outlook.
Bobby Hicks, Mark Kuykendall & Asheville Bluegrass
Bobby Hicks, at age eighty-three is still a fine fiddler who clearly shows why he was a long time Bluegrass Boy with Bill Monroe in the mid-fifties. The combination offers a look and listen to the Monroe sound.
Our Dumplin Valley Site
Headed to the Jam
Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier
Warming Up Backstage
Jimbo Whaley was once the front person for national band Pine Mountain Railroad with which he performed from 1998 until leaving in 2006 to stay home in Pigeon Forge while his children grew. Greenbrier, Whaley's current band is pretty much a local/regional band way to good not to be heard and seen much more widely. The band is entertaining. Roger Helton on guitar and banjo is a rousing picker and a humorous performer. Whaley, the heart of the band, writes excellent story songs, some of which can rip your heart out. His "Kings of Orbank" has been a favorite for years, recorded pretty widely. The band plays old standards and rock inspired covers in bluegrass style up to, and including, Taylor Swift. We enjoy seeing this band twice a year here in Tennessee, but think it deserves much wider national attention.
Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time
Larry Cordle brings deep east Kentucky to Nashville and turns it into fine songwriting that hits the charts often and stays around a long time. He's a prudent mad who spent time in the Navy, went to college and worked as an accountant until he was confident enough to become a full-time songwriter and performer. It's paid off. Read my longer profile here. His band is filled with old pals who are fine musicians who blend together and work well with him. Always a treasure.
Anglin & King
The Mighty Cord
The Gibson Brothers
Eric & Leigh Gibson
Twice IBMA Entertainer of the Year, the Gibson Brothers have a new recording coming out in the winter, composed entirely of their own songs. This widely awaited collection will return them to doing what their fans know they do best, explore the bluegrass idiom in contemporary, thoughtful songs filled with memory and nostalgia as well as their own combination of a rich rural heritage and the souls of poets. They're veteran performers who always keep their act fresh with their loving, brotherly needling, not relying on a set list, and one of the strongest group of support players to be found anywhere. If they're near you, go see them, or travel to get to them.
At the Merch Table
Here's a new Gibson Brothers song to whet your whistle: