Smokey Greene, born in 1930, has been performing in New York and New England, as well as Florida in the winter, since the 1950's at his own festival and many others. He says he's now on his final tour. He sings humorous songs as well as old country and heart rending songs from all over. A musical icon beloved by many.
Just Passin' Through is the host band of the festival. They love picking together and also appear at a couple of other festivals each season as well as private and local events. Festival promoter Tary Jesmonth (TJ) sings lead for this enthusiastic and skilled group.
We first saw the Atkinson Family at Pickin' in the Pasture on Lake Cayuga in central New York a dozen or more years ago. They were a solid band then, and they remain entertaining with strong musical values. Their tight family harmonies, varied and interesting choice of songs, and pleasant stage presence combine to make them a band people enjoy.
Dreamcatcher began it's afternoon set with one banjo player and ended it with another as it transitioned to a new lineup. This is a young and talented band that grew from what was mostly the East Tennessee State University Pride Band a couple of years ago, to become a rapidly rising bluegrass presence at festivals and workshops across the country. The change represents a problem for young bands whose members are in demand to fill openings in better known and higher paying bands. Nevertheless, Dreamcatcher is impressive. Their musicianship is beyond reproach and their singing is improving as their voices continue to mature and they work regularly together. For Irene and me, who have been watching and appreciating Aaron Foster since he was an early teen, this was a happy day. Aaron, unlike many hot young pickers, began a little late and did not immediately impress. However, a decade later, he has developed as a fine guitarist and a true leader in his band.
Beartracks, coming from Plattsburgh, NY, has established itself throughout New England with forays into Pennsylvania and Colorado, where they are popular for their good music and good-time vibe. With the addition of Harry Ralph on fiddle a few years ago, and banjoist Steve Light in the last year, they have found a combination flexible enough to play their genre expanding music. With their new CD, The Other Side of the Tracks, they have chosen to combine bluegrass with contemporary pop, a rock standard, and Texas swing into an interesting and enjoyable acoustic album. Perhaps not often enough noted or noticed, Julie Venne-Hogan is a fine bass player.