Saturday, March 9, 2019

House Concerts: A Boon for Bands with Darin & Brooke Aldridge

House concerts help make travel and lodging possible for a vast number of touring musicians making their way to and from anchor gigs at festivals and concert halls around the country. The artists are often accorded lodging and sometimes significant financial support in return for spending a night in a comfortable home and performing for a group of paying invited guests in a more-or-less informal setting. You can sometimes see these stops along the way on the artists schedules, but often they are held quietly, in a quite private setting, and made available only to invited, paying guests. Usually a fee is charged for attending these events, with all the proceeds going to the band. If you get an invitation to attend one of these events, anywhere in the country, jump at it. You'll have a fine musical experience as well as contributing to keeping live music alive and well in America. Bruce and Jody Watson host such events at their expansive, very pleasant farm near Bushnell, Florida.

Bruce and Jody Watson

Last week, The Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band traveled from their home in North Carolina for two concerts at Bruce and Jody's Farm. We drove down at mid-afternoon for the 3:00 PM Sunday concert, arriving early enough to meet our hosts and take a look around as well as to get a brief chance to visit with Darin & Brooke, who we missed at a cancelled show in North Carolina on our way to Florida. The spacious living room had been re-arranged to allow room for people to put down folding chairs, and about 100 music lovers filled the room to more than capacity. 

Darin Aldridge Relaxing by the Fireplace

Ready to Go 

Someone's Everything

There's no amplification at the Watson's home, creating an exceptionally warm sound and intimate environment where the audience is drawn into the performance. experiencing an intense connection with the band. Brooke Aldridge has begun writing her own songs. The song above is one of hers as she shows why she has been named the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year for the second consecutive year.

During the break between sets, we wandered outside to the lanai to enjoy light snacks provided by the guests (next time we'll know to bring something), and visit the picking shack at the back, where the walls are signed by all the people who've appeared there and jammed with Bruce and his friends.

The Picking Shack

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Jerusalem Ridge

Darin & Brooke, who recently celebrated their tenth wedding anniversary, have been honing a sound and developing their reputation based on musically developing the ideas Darin has in his fertile musical imagination. His light tenor blends with Brooke's powerful voice to create a duo of rare power and ability to move listeners. Meanwhile, accomplished on both guitar and mandolin, it often seems a shame that Darin himself doesn't have four arms. With banjo master Matt Menafee playing a classical concert in Nashville, and frequent partner John Cowan ill at home, regular bass player Billy Gee was a delight to see at this house concert. His elegant bass playing and supple bass/baritone voice added resonance to the band's quartet singing.  Carley Arrowood on fiddle and harmony vocals always blends beautifully into this band's mix, making the acoustic quartet a wonder of variety and musicality. 

Darin & Brooke Aldridge - Children Go Where I Send Thee

Darin and Brooke's story is one grounded in their mutual love for each other, their faith, gospel and bluegrass music, and for making music together. In the past few years, they've developed connections to singers ranging from Jimmy Fortune, formerly singer and writer for the Statler Brothers, and John Cowan, the legendary bass player and tenor singer for The New Grass Revival, a seminal band in bringing the Rock sensibility into bluegrass music. This has led toward invitations to play on RFD-TV as well as increasing numbers of gigs at the Grand Ol' Opry, where they have appeared about a dozen times in the past two years. Their singing, Darin's amazing instrumental versatility, and Brooke's warm, welcoming voice have led to five well-loved CD's and, now, a new recording contract with Rounder Records. Their first recording with Rounder should be released later in the Spring. Darin and Brooke Aldridge continue to emerge as a major force in music as under Darin's leadership they continue to attract top musicians to play with them and to develop their signature sound. 

After a couple of hours in a musical delight, the audience went home knowing they'd heard the best in an up-close and personal environment provided by the Watsons and enriched by The Darin and Brooke Aldridge Band. Here they are with Shania Twain's great song, "No One Needs to Know."

Don't miss this group at a festival or concert venue near you!

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sertoma Bluegrass Festival 2019 - March 20 - 24 - Preview

Evans Media Source will present its Spring Bluegrass Festival at Sertoma Youth Ranch from March 20th - 24th, 2019. Featuring a strong lineup of sell known national bands including this year's IBMA Entertainer of the Year, Balsam Range, some of Nashville's finest, and lots of great bluegrass music from across the spectrum. Held on the Sertoma Youth Ranch, located at 85 Myers Road, just outside Brooksville, FL, the site is a well-shaded grove of live oak trees equipped with hot showers, a covered performance shed, a first rate snack bar, as well as a range of food and craft vendors. Come early to enjoy the fellowship, jamming, and early activities as well which are always a feature of Ernie and Deb Evans festivals.

The Lineup
Balsam Range

Twice IBMA Entertainer of the Year and Vocal Group of the Year, Balsam Range offers a range of musical treats from haunting ballads to heartfelt gospel to driving rock with joy and conviction. One of the two of three finest bands currently touring, they have forged a huge record of accomplishment in their, for bluegrass, relatively brief twelve your career. Don't miss this exciting band! 

Balsam Range - Hobo Blues

Nothin' Fancy

Nothin' Fancy has grown its music, reduced its once trademark clowning, and broadened its repertoire as it has moved into the top ranks of hard-touring, extremely popular bluegrass bands. While they have foresaken some of the comedy and reduced their reliance on Country Gentlemen covers, they have grown musically at every position, Their recordings have received increasing amounts of serious airplay while they have maintained and grown their core audience. Always fun!

Nothin' Fancy - The Footsteps That I Follow

The Grascals

The Grascals have been one of the most energetic and enjoyable traditional bluegrass bands touring for nearly twenty years, now. From minute to minute they can tear your heart out and make you laugh while showing remarkable instrumental versatility; Kristin Scott Benson on banjo has been named IBMA Banjo Player of the Year four times. They owe much of their sound to vintage Osborne Brothers music, while remaining instantly recognizable. They hit the stage with high energy, maintaining their drive and musicality throughout their performance. Welcome them back to EMS shows this year. 

The Grascals - Windy City

Don Rigsby

Since his early years with The Lonesome River Band, Don Rigsby's tenor voice has been one of the most recognizable in bluegrass. His performance in January with his current band was filled with energy, fine singing, and solid emcee work by Rigsby himself. As a music educator for many years at Moorehead State in Kentucky, as a singer and instrumentalist, and as a force in the music, Rigsby has stood firmly and proudly for traditional musical values of bluegrass music. 

Don Rigsby - Daddy Was a Moonshine Man

Donna Ulisse

Donna Ulisse has grown into a powerhouse performer! Her versatility as a song writer has morphed into a series of well attended workshops as stand-alone events where she works with nascent and experienced writers to grow themselves. Her performances on stage have grown from tentative to extraordinary as she takes the stage with confidence to tell her story in wonderfully melodic songs written with art and delivered with high artistry. Her IBMA award winning song writing combine with one of the most pleasing, mellow voices in any music to deliver wonderful shows. 

Donna Ulisse - Whispering Pines

Larry Stephenson

After thirty years with his own band and at least ten more with others, Larry Stephenson's clear, bright tenor voice remains undimmed. It seems to come clear and clean from somewhere deep within without ever seeming forced or difficult, as if he just opens his mouth and the notes flow out. His current, very young, band provides strong support with Nick Dauphinais on guitar. Derek Vaden has ably brought his fine banjo and strong harmony singing to the band, replacing the irreplaceable Kenny Ingram. Larry continues to add new material to the solid body of traditional bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music his many fans know and love. . 
e Larry Stephenson Band - Patches

Larry Efaw's Bluegrass Mountaineers - 

Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers are a Kentucky-based, traditional bluegrass band offering lots of fast bluegrass music which will set your feet tapping. Active mostly in the mid-west and mid-south, this appearance will give some people not familiar with his music a chance to get to know him. 

Larry Efaw & The Bluegrass Mount

Darrell Webb

Darrell Webb returns to Sertoma this year after last  years extremely well-received high intensity performance of his wide ranging, powerful music. He brings with him a new band, but with all the old enthusiasm. Darrell grew up in bluegrass. His music reflects the ancient tones as well as contemporary trends in the wider world of music, making him a rich resource for the bluegrass world. 

Darrell Webb - Crossroads

Rebekah Long

Rebekah Long brings her experience as a fine bass player with Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike for several years and as an experienced sound engineer working for Tom & Dixie Hall to forming and touring with her own band. We haven't seen Rebekah on a bluegrass stage in several years, but expect her to show continued growth and maybe some surprises, which very much include loads of talent!

Rebekah Long -I'll Never Make It Home Tonight

Brad Hudson

Brad Hudson, after stints with Lorraine Jordan as well as with Sideline and guest appearances with a number of other bands, has gone out on his own with his own band. He's a versatile musician, skilled on guitar and Dobro and a fine singer. 

Brad Hudson - Brand New Heartbreak

Jo Odum - Emcee

Here's a link to the entire activity schedule for the Sertoma Bluegrass Festival:

The Details
Tickets: Four day advanced ticket prices (ends March 1) at $65.00
               Four day at the Gate is $75.00 is $75.00
               Wednesday admission is free with a three day ticket.
               Thursday tickets are $25.00
               Friday tickets are $30.00
               Saturday tickets are $35.00 
               Sunday (morning gospel sing) is free with a ticket
               Youth tickets (age 10 - 15) sell for $15.00 for the weekend or $5.00 per day
                Children 9 and under are free.


Camping: Camping with hookups (water & electric) costs $25,00 per night
                  Dry camping is $13,00 per  night with almost unlimited space. 
                  Free hot showers and flush toilets are available.

Nearby Motels: A number of motels are clustered around the Route 98 exit of I-75 (Brooksville). The Days Inn of Brooksville is offering a Special Rate for those attending the Sertoma Bluegrass Festival. It is located 8.3. miles from the Sertoma Youth Ranch
In order to arrange tickets and/or camping call or email Evans Media Sourse at:
               (386) 385-3500 or email:
               Send checks payable to Evans Media Source to:
               119 Clearwater Road, Satsuma, FL 32189

How to Get to Sertoma Youth Ranch
Fill in Your Location in the O Space
Then Click to Generate Your Own Google Map

Ernie Evans

Deb Evans w/Berna Lu Gibson

Promises to be a great show! See you there.....

Sunday, February 3, 2019

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society - A Netflix Original Film - Review

We first see writer Juliet Ashton in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society, a Netflix Original, as she's looking for a place to live in immediate post-war England, after her flat has been made uninhabitable by the German blitz. The war is over, and she's scheduled for a reading at a local book shop. Soon, she receives a letter from a reader on Guernsey Island, in the North Sea, requesting help in finding a copy of Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare, which she sends him. In the correspondence that follows, she becomes aware of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society. Sensing a story, she decides to take a brief leave from her new American fiance to explore the possibilities of a new book. When Juliet arrives on Guernsey, she is immediately captivated by its beauty and isolation. As she becomes acquainted with the members of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Pie Society, however, she becomes aware that there are secrets and deep anxieties leading them to refuse her permission to write their story. The resulting sleuthing by Juliet and her increasing closeness to the quirky members of the society leads to a deeply engaging story of love, discovery, and redemption. 

Guernsey is one of a group of islands located just off the coast of France in the English Channel generally referred to as "the Channel Islands." It is self governing, having a strange relationship with England, which serves to protect the island as well not regulating it as a part of England. As such, it's largest function has become serving as a banking center for English tax-free commerce. During WW II, it was occupied by the Germans, who exported a large number of children to Germany, although most were evacuated to England before the invasion. Much of the story revolves around incidents to occurred during this occupation about which there are still mysteries and bad feelings as the movie progresses. In many ways, the theme of the film examines the characters as they cope with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is accomplished through superb story-telling and dramatic interaction without preaching or excessive emphasis. At a little over two hours in length, The Guernsey Library and Potato Pie Society, takes its time to reveal the source of community anger and sense of loss in an entirely satisfactory manner. 

Lily James

Michael Huisman

Lily James as Juliet Ashton and Michael Huisman as the islander who first contacted her, Dawsey Adams, are restrained and pleasingly affective in their performances. A group of older acting warhorses, led by Tom Courtney (whose movie and tv credits go back to the 1950's and Penelope Wilson (perhaps best known for her role as Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey) also a veteran character actor, provide outstanding performances filled with warmth, pain, and humor. 

I think maybe my tear ducts have begun leaking more as I grow older, but I have to admit that this story had me dripping by the end. A first rate film that hits home on the emotional as well as intellectual levels, telling a fine story with elegance and restraint while moving viewers and making them think about the many layers of human experience. 

Official Trailer

Friday, January 25, 2019

Bosch on Amazon Prime - Series Review

Titus Welliver has long been a valuable and recognizable TV actor playing a variety of roles in commercial television. Now he's got the title role in the best police procedural I've ever seen on television. He's played featured roles in needle-moving television programs back to programs like Brooklyn South and NYPD Blue in the 1990's to That's Life early in century, the epic western Deadwood, and now forty episodes of the Amazon original Bosch, dating back to 2014. He's a distinguished and highly recognized actor who finally has a gripping, exciting television role worthy of his skills.

Titus Welliver

In the pilot episode of Bosch, we meet the title character, Detective Harry Bosch, as he and his partner Jerry Edgar, ably played by Jamie Hector, chase down a suspected child molester, separating to corner the fugitive, who Bosch confronts in an alley, shooting him when he appears to go for his gun. Bosch is brought to trial, obviously as much a victim of professional jealousy as he is a policeman who will ignore approved procedure as well as his own safety to achieve justice. In one taught five or six minute chase scene, Harry Bosch is revealed for his complexity and independence. This sort of revealing character study is rarely seen in today's commercial television, nor does it ever happen without commercial interruption.

We're now well into the third season of Bosch with its twists and turns as the underlying story continues in all the complexity and with all the nuance allowed by streaming series television. Bosch is a thorough, dedicated, smart, and tortured hero, who elicits both admiration, suspicion, and jealousy from his fellow police, as well as generating too much press for the politicians. The characters are well drawn, almost never cardboard cutouts, but real, complex human beings.

The locations drip with authenticity - the squad room, streets, bars, heat, and diversity of Los Angeles provide scenes of gripping tension as well as shedding bright sunlight, on the City itself as it comes to life. Meanwhile, the the series highlights political process within the police department itself, as well as the city as a whole.

In many ways, Bosch can stand, along with so many other distinguished streaming programs, as a new paradigm for how to make and how to watch television. Not constrained from having to shoehorn forty-four minutes of content into each hour of commercial television while breaking continuity into little bits, streaming allows stories to continue through ten episodes and link from season to season. Instead of a bungled short story, viewers can now consume an entire video novel at their own pace. 

Bosch currently has four seasons available on Amazon Prime Video with season five in production and a green light for season six. Perhaps the biggest problem with video streaming seems to be completing an entire season's shows, often ten episodes, in a binge of over a period of several days. The viewer doesn't have to wait until next week's show is released. In the end, however, we must wait several months, or even years, for the next season to be posted. However, the offerings of series and movies are so rich as to be difficult to resist. Streaming television has significantly changed our viewing habits.

Here's the official trailer for season one of Bosch. It's on Amazon Prime:

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Florida Bluegrass Classic - Brooksville, FL - February 18 - 24, 2019 - Preview

The Florida Bluegrass Classic, produced Evans Media Source will run from February 18 - 24, 2019 at Florida Classic Park, located at 5360 Lockhart Road near Brooksville, Florida. Featuring a solid mix of classic country artists, first rate bluegrass bands, on a large campground with numerous water/electric (30 amp) sites, and activities throughout the event, this festival offers an excellent change of pace for bluegrass fans, as well as lots of nostalgia for country music fans and twentieth century cover groups. Plan to join the fun at this centrally located and pleasant site. Here's the story:

The Music
Moe Bandy

Moe Bandy is a country singer who reached his greatest levels of popularity during the 1970's. Born in Mississippi, he moved to San Antonio, TX as a child, where he became more interested in the rodeo than in music. He emerged as a major country singer with his unadorned style just as country was moving towards more lush sounding country style developed in Nashville. The nostalgia for "real country" has revived his career and reputation. 

Moe Band - Someday Soon

IIIrd Tyme Out

Russell Moore is the founder and has served as lead singer in IIIrd Tyme Out, one of bluegrass music's most popular and enduring bands for over twenty-five years. The band continues to tour and present traditional bluegrass combined with a range of country and grassed popular music to great appreciation of old and new fans. Now located in Georgia, Russell is a native of Texas. Both sets of roots show and are appreciated in his music, as well as much more.

Gentle on My Mind

Atlantic City Boys

The Atlantic City Boys are a highly entertaining band combining recorded music with their own fine vocal stylings of popular rock and roll music from the sixties and seventies featuring the sounds of The Jersey Boys, Franki Valli, The Beach Boys and other vocal quartets of the period. They are lively, involving the audience in their show and creating a show environment reminding audiences of the days they themselves were younger and more active. Ernie Evans' son appears with one of the touring groups comprising the Atlantic City Boys and appears with them at some of their performances as Ernie's festivals. 

2018 Promo Video

The Grascals

The Grascals emerged fifteen years ago from a group of sidemen appearing at Nashville's Station Inn. The band had an immediate high impact, recording several major bluegrass hits, and earning a number of IBMA awards. Three of the founding members, Terry Eldridge, Terry Smith, and Danny Roberts, continue to tour with the band, while new members have helped to continue the distinctive sound and vibe of this hard driving and enjoyable band. Kristin Scott Benson has been named IBMA Banjo Player of the Year four times. We haven't seen this band in Florida for a few years, so enjoy the show at the Bluegrass Classic.


Sam Pacetti

Influenced by the Chet Atkins and Merle Travis, Sam Pacetti became a guitar player during his teen years as he came under the influence of the singer/songwriter style. He is recognized for his virtuoso guitar play and passionate songs. He has recently toured in Colorado, as well as playing regularly in and around his home base in St. Augustine. 

Sam Pacetti - Medley of Standards

Buddy Jewell

Buddy Jewell comes from Lapanto, AR, whrere he first learned to play guitar as a young teenager, and came under the influence of singers like Trace Adkins. Jewell was the first winner of singing competition Nashville Star, signing a recording contract with Columbia Records. He also worked in Nashville as a demo singer, recording over 5000 songs. He has had a number of charting singles and one album reaching number one on the national charts. 

Help Pour Out the Rain

David & Terri Church

David Church has been a featured performer on RFD-TV's Midwest Country for some years. He's had several songs chart at Reverbnation and has a busy national schedule of appearances. Along with his wife Teri Lisa, he will be presenting classic country songs, with a particular emphasis on the music of Hank Williams, Sr. He was well received last year at The Bluegrass Classic with a guest appearance. 

Medley - Promo

Michael Reno Harrell

Although I had heard Michael Reno Harrell on Knoxville's WDVX-FM from the porch of our home in New Hampshire, I couldn't imagine who this person was, as he set up for his Tuesday opener at the first Bluegrass Classic...until he struck his first chord and completely captivated the audience for a full hour. Noted nationally as a story teller, he's been featured story-teller at the National Story-Telling Festival in Jonesborough, NC. Combining his wonderful songs with his unique style of story-telling provides a rare treat. He'll be in the lineup on Friday, largely because of the very positive responses he's had at his two previous performances at EMS events. 

The Nickel

Roxeen & Dalrymple

Roxeen & Dalrymple are a folk/bluegrass duo from Nova Scotia, Canada. Some of you may recognize Gary Dalrymple as the mandolin player and hard-working side-kick of the Spinney Brothers. They present a pleasant program, sing well together, as well as mixing easily and comfortably with each other and the audience. 

So Lonesome I Could Die

The Swing Sisters

The Swing Sisters sing close harmony songs from 1940's - 1960's and beyond in a style reminiscent of, perhaps, the Andrews Sisters, whom I remember well. Based in Melbourne, FL, this group looks and sounds like fun. Not to be confused with a British group of the same name. 

It Don't Mean a Thing, If It Ain't Got That Swing

Nothin Fancy
Mike Andes - Singer, Songwriter, Emcee

Nothin' Fancy survived for more than twenty years as a band specializing in strong covers of Country Gentlemen songs, entertaining clowning, and novelty songs written by Mike Andes, as well as Chris Sexton's fine fiddle work which turned out to be broadening and simultaneously funny. A few years ago, after some band changes, they upped the ante, earned a contract with an important bluegrass label, and picked up a pair of brothers, Caleb and James Cox, who were serious about bluegrass and got Nothin' Fancy, too. The result has been a strong move to higher reaches in the bluegrass world. Much of their future will depend on who they hire to play banjo, the one hole remaining. They have already reduced the clowning and improved the music. The next move is up to them.

Simon Crutchfield's Grave

Blue River Grass

Composed of a bluegrass couple from Maine, and a father-daughter pairing who are long-time Florida residents, Blue River Grass brings a group familiar to jammers at Florida festivals to the Classic stage. They'll be fun and tuneful, presenting traditional bluegrass music.

Veteran emcee Jo Odom will keep the festivities moving along. At this time, a replacement for the late Les Sears has not yet been found.

Jo Odom

In addition to the music, a tribute to the military and/or civilian emergency providers will take place on Saturday. Also local Classic and Antique Car enthusiasts will exhibit on Saturday.

On Sunday, Jan Ladd and her team will present a morning Gospel Sing as the closing event of this fine festival.

The Details:

Tickets: You can still purchase advanced tickets at a sale price of $65 for the entire weekend until February 1. After that tickets for the entire weeken will cost $70.00 by phone or at the gate. 
Daily ticket prices are: Thursday =  $25, Friday and/or Saturday = $30.00, Sunday is free.
 Children 12 and under are free with an adult. 

Camping:  The campground is located on the side of a gently sloping hill. There are many campsites available for rough camping, 30 amp, and 50 amp users. A free dump station is available on site and pump outs can be arranged. I advise that RVers arrive with full water tanks, as the pressure is rather low with several rigs sharing each standpipe. Camping opens February 20th.
Electric costs: 30 amp = $27.00 per night (must buy three nights), 50 amp =$32.00

The Site: The performance area features a long covered building with a stage set to one side to provide more seat seats. It's only a few steps to a flush toilet facility. There are a few shaded sites around the perimeter, but most are in the open sunshine, usually welcome at this time of year. 

Vendors: A number of food, craft, and instrument vendors sell and display at this festival. Take time to enjoy some good fair food or to shop for crafts or gear. 

How to Get to Florida Classic Park
Place Your Location in the O and Click
for a Map to help Find the
Florida Classic Park

Debi Evans

Ernie Evans

See You There!