Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Jenny Brook - Saturday

Despite persistent rain and a big thunderstorm with strikes all around the fairgrounds and one hit at the Sugar Shack, the crowd who came to the Jenny Brook Family Bluegrass Festival this weekend stayed in good humor, came out to see the bands, participated in workshops, continued to jam all over the camping area, and came to the stage to see some of the best bluegrass available anywhere, from the regional bands and great national groups.

Hot Mustard

Hot Mustard won last year's band contest at the Grass Seed Gazebo Stage at Jenny Brook, earning a Sunday slot in the lineup.  A year later, they have appeared in a variety of venues around New England, including opening for Tony Trischka on his New England tour a month or so ago.  They had a regular slot Jenny Brook this year and performed their satisfying blend of conventional bluegrass songs blended with some jazz and some excellent double banjo work.  Check out their schedule to see where else they'll be appearing this summer.
Kelly Stockwell
April Hobart
Bill Jubett
Bruce Stockwell

Coping with the Rain 

The Boxcars

The Boxcars were a busy band at Jenny Brook. Over their two days at the festival, they performed four sets of their own while Adam Steffey and Ron Stewart filled out The Seth Sawyer Band with enthusiasm while providing Seth and Candi with huge support.  We've seen The Boxcars several times throughout the winter and spring and have been impressed with their growing confidence, power, and enjoyment of performing in each other's company.  The band has gelled into one of the best touring groups around.  Keith Garret's singing and song writing add considerable weight to Adam Steffey's justly awarded mndolin play and Ron Stewart's work on both banjo and fiddle.  John Bowman, primarily plays fiddle while exchanging instruments with Stewart for some wonderful banjo/fiddle work and accompanying himself on guitar for a couple of songs, too. Harold Nixon's work and pure joy in playing his bass is always strong and never overpowering.

Adam Steffey
Keith Garrett
John Bowman
Harold Nixon
Ron Stewart

The Grass Seeds Gazebo Stage

A year ago, Seth and Candi Sawyer asked sixteen year old Michelle Canning, an emerging banjo player who has been a steady presence at Jenny Brook for some years, to develop an open mic stage on the gazebo located near the back of the fairgrounds.  At that time, the program was fairly light. Hot Mustard emerged as the winner and has used that win and the performances it has generated along with lots of practice and promotion, to propel themselves into a growing regional reputation as a hot band.  This year, Michelle returned with strengthened commitment to building the program. The result was a full schedule of bands for two days, with the winner judged best by a panel of professional musicians to play a main stage set on Sunday.  While a paid gig the next season is not guaranteed, the competition was lively, attendance strong, and enthusiasm high.

 Michelle Canning

The Gazebo Stage
Leroy Troy Conducts Banjo Workshop

During the afternoon the clouds lifted as blue showed through and even a few glimpses of sunshine and real shadows cast by it were seen.  Some people were even seen swimming in the river.

Saturday afternoon at the main stage featured performances by bands that have been covered earlier or will be tomorrow.  The Seth Sawyer Band, Hot Mustard, and White Mountain Bluegrass all presented top notch performances.  Darin & Brooke Aldridge excelled in two sets from the main stage, bringing the audience to its feet.  More about them tomorrow, too.  

The Gibson Brothers
Eric Gibson
Leigh Gibson
The Gibson Brothers are the home team at the Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival. They've appeared at all eleven editions of Jenny Brook and are well-loved by both the promoters and the audience there.  If they would allow it, the crowd would keep them singing past midnight every time they close an evening. Fortunately, Eric and Leigh know that leaving the audience wanting more is in everyone's best interest. This year, their appearance was punctuated by a special guest.  Katy Daly is the morning drive time voice of WAMU's Bluegrass Country in Washington, D.C.  She came to Jenny Brook to introduce The Gibson Brothers and to announce that their newest CD, Help My Brother as well as the title song have risen to #1 on the Bluegrass Unlimited June charts. She presented plaques commemorating the event to the band's members.  Katy has also produced a three hour Bluegrass Master Class detailing the twenty year career and ten albums of The Gibson Brothers.  This program will next be broadcast on Bluegrass Country on July 3 from 3 - 6 PM EST.  Bluegrass Country can be heard live in the Washington, D.C. area and is streamed world wide on the Internet.
Katy Daly Introducing the Gibson Brothers
Katy with Regular Emcee Mike Robinson

Mike Barber

Joe Walsh

Clayton Campbell

During the second Tennessee Mafia Jug Band set, just as it was getting dark, a large black cloud came in from the west and soon we were in the midst of a pretty strong thunderstorm, which stopped everything for about 45 minutes.  Simultaneous lightning and thunder hit all around us, and we later learned that the Sugar Shack had been close enough for a staff member to get a "tingle" and sparks to arc between the metal appliances inside it.  Pretty scary.

The evening closed out with fine performances from both the Boxcars and the Gibson Brothers. It was a most satisfying day and jamming continued long into the night.


  1. Thanks for the excellent write up and pics. I had a blast at Jenny Brook this year.

    I was at the in the Sugar Shack and at the Creemee machine when the bolt of lightning passed directly between me and the young man pouring my cone.

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