Southern Rail has been a standout regional band in New England for a generation, having released twelve CD's. Particularly noted for their very tight harmony singing and disciplined sound in both secular and gospel music, they are always a pleasure to see and hear.
The Lonely Heartstring Band led off the closing of the festival by three bands from three eras featuring three sets of brothers that I've written about at greater length here. This band is the most exciting band to come along in some years. It's music is elegant, clean, and expert. Song selection divided between classic bluegrass, inventive bluegrass covers of classic rock, and thought provoking, tuneful songs written within the band create a musical environment that captures audiences right from the start and never lets go. It's hard to overstate how excellent the band is or how influential it could become.
The Del McCoury Band has set a standard for thoughtful traditionalism. Del's credentials are impeccable, a Blue Grass Boy with Bill Monroe, touring with his brother Jerry as The Dixie Pals, and with his sons as one of the most awarded and beloved bands in bluegrass history. This Hall of Fame member has done it all, and done it better. While playing the classics and singing his signature high lonesome tenor, he has been willing to play with in incredibly diverse set of bands playing other music. He's also, probably, the most photogenic artist in all music. Three members of his bands, sons Ronnie and Robbie, as well as fiddler Jason Carter have been named as instrumentalist of the year on his own instrument. Only Alan Bartram has been overlooked in the instrument category, where he certainly stands among the best. This is simply a great band!