Sunday, December 28, 2008

Pick of the Litter

I started out to put together a portfolio of pictures I wanted to call "Best of 2008." As I worked through my photos, I realized there were too many I liked for me to call them the best or to call them anything else. The pictures in this portfolio were all taken between mid-January and the first day of May, 2008 at a number of different events. I picked the particular shots because I like to think they capture something essential I see in the subjects. Whether it's humor, lonliness, concentration, intensity, or some other quality, I like to think of these as portraits that capture something more than just an image. If they work as photographs, they move you in some way. I'll provide some context and maybe a few comments, but, for the most part, let's let the pictures speak for themselves.
Molly Kate Cherryholmes

Molly Kate & Susanna Langdon

This year, Dailey & Vincent enjoyed almost unprecedented success, winning seven awards at the annual IBMA awards show. The pictures below were taken during one of their first performances, at the Rodeheaver Boys Rance in Palatka, FL in mid-February.

Jamie Dailey

Jamie Dailey & Darrin Vincent

Owen Saunders & David Davis

Paul Priest

Lorraine Jordan & Jerry Butler

At age 84, Tut Taylor continues to be a force in bluegrass music. He is an eternal font of ideas. From inventing a new way to pick the Dobro as a young man, to inventing a new form of resonator guitar he calls the Tutbro, to putting out two new albums in the past three years, Tut continues to have one of the most creative and inventive minds in music.
Tut Taylor

Lee Taylor (Mrs. Tut)

Laurie Lewis

Sean Lane

Sierra Hull & Hiway 111 have made a huge impact in the past couple of years. Fronted by a, now, seventeen year old mandolin phenom and featuring Cory Walker, two years her elder, the band showcases the virtuosity and energy of so many young musicians. People who have given up hope for the future of bluegrass need look no further than this group.
Sierra Hull & Hiway 111

Sierra Hull (she also plays guitar)

Cory Walker

Andy Hall

Travis Book

David Holt & Dr. Ralph Stanley

Pete Wernick (Dr. Banjo)

It doesn't take being around bluegrass too long for fans to recognize that this music is nearly lily white in complection. The Carolina Chocolate Drops create a fascinating and entertaining linkage between bluegrass music and the string band music of the early twentieth century, which is one of the wellsprings from which bluegrass sprang. Their lively shows are something no bluegrass fan should miss.
Justin Robinson (Carolina Chocolate Drops)

Rhiannon Giddens (Carolina Chocolate Drops)

Each year, Merlefest puts a group of the country's finest mandolin players on the Creekside Stage on Saturday afternoon for a set called Mando Mania. Here are four of the great pickers chosen for 2008. Look for an equally appealling and challenging group in 2009.
Mike Compton

Darin Aldridge

Sierra Hull

Rebecca Lovell

Merelefest is a huge festival and the Watson Stage faces a vast sea of seats. Few performers can carry an audience with a solo performance in a venue like this. Tim O'Brien is one of them.
Tim O'Brien

Rhonda Vincent

Alison Brown

Joe Craven

Doc Watson

Claire Lynch

Bela Fleck

Dan Tyminski

Adam Steffey

It has often been said that bluegrass music, at least historically, has been pretty much a boys' club. A look at the four faces that follow as well as back up the list indicates that much of the creativity, energy, and tunefulness in the music comes from the women and girls performing today.
Becky Buller

Valerie Smith

Sherry Boyd (Emcee for Norman Anderson Festivals)

Cia Cherryholmes
Katie Wilson (The Wilson Family Band)

The Gibson Brothers' last four CDs have reached number one in the Bluegrass Unlimited charts. For a pair of brothers from the northernmost reaches of New York State, singing an innovative and creative mix of pure bluegrass, classic country, and rock tinged songs of their own composition, this is quite an accomplishment, and they've found a national audience.
Eric Gibson

Leigh Gibson

Clayton Campbell

Steve Gulley (Grasstowne)

Alan Bibey (Grasstowne)

Kevin Prater (James King Band)

James King

Kevin Prater & James King flank the late Eugene Crabtree

Junior Sisk

Larry Gillis

Ralph Stanley

So there's a collection of pictures that I'm proud of. I know that some of your favorites aren't here, but these are the ones that particularly appealed to me as I trolled through my files during the last couple of days. I hope you enjoy them.


  1. Thanks Ted, your pictures are great as always and sure to improve if Irene holds the camera more often. That's the one of Molly Kate that should be on an album cover someday soon. Happy New Year from Sue & John

  2. Good job Ted! You have gone beyond the phrase "a writer who takes pictures" to a fine writer and a fine photographer. I love it that about half the pics are of women!
    Martha Sheperd