Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Newell Lodge Fall 2011 - Review

The Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival offered its Fall edition on October 28 and 29 to hugely increased attendance and with greater confidence.  The event clearly demonstrated that a local audience would have a broader taste for more adventurous bluegrass music than they had perhaps anticipated.  The next Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival, coming March 8 - 10, 2012 will be longer, larger, and more ambitious.  Newell Lodge began as an equine park and has maintained a horsey atmosphere while growing increasingly comprehensive and elaborate.  This summer owner Harvin Carter added sixty electric & water RV sites, a new shower facility and an additional toilet facility.  There are six delightful cottages available for rent on the grounds as well as a bunk house.  The dining room serves tasty, moderately priced southern cooking in a family environment.  The grove of live oak trees provides shade and atmosphere to complement the horse drawn carriages used to carry people around the grounds.  A large gazebo is an ideal spot to hold a wedding or other kind of reception and the facility has begun hosting corporate outings.  The twice annual bluegrass festivals are an appropriate and welcome addition to the mix.  Further site improvements are planned.

Harvin Carter

Assisting Carter in organizing and presenting the bluegrass festivals has been the father-son duo of Robert and Clint Wilson. Robert is a long-time regional fixture in bluegrass who currently has been receding as leader of the Wilson Family Band as his children Clint and Katie have come to the fore.  Clint, still a college student, has had several of his songs recorded by major bands and is a budding recording engineer, too. Clint and Robert provided the excellent sound for the Newell Lodge Bluegrass Festival while their band played two sets also.  Another prominent theme of the weekend was the upcoming marriage of Clint Wilson to Kalyn Hall of the band Tomorrow's News.
Robert Wilson
Clint Wilson

The festival opened with a delightful low country boil hosted by the Carters on Thursday evening.  Featured guests were the other couple of the weekend, W.a. Pate and his fiance Rhonda Payne, to be married on Saturday morning.
Low Country Boil

W.a. Pate, Harvin Carter, Rhonda Payne


Kalyn Hall's Bridal Shower - Thursday
Malieka Hall, Kalyn Hall, Melissa Wilson, Katie Wilson

The Bride to Be
Kalyn Hall 
Jamming on Friday Morning

The Music
The Andrews Family - Lake City, FL
Michael Andrews

Brian Andrews
Steve Andrews
Paul Harrigill

Ernie Evans & the Florida State Bluegrass Band

Ernie Evans new band, dubbed The Florida State Bluegrass Band, comes to the stage with energy and strength and plays a mixture of bluegrass classics combined with music ranging from Gershwin to Django Rhinehart which all combines into a pleasant mix of interesting and engaging music.  Ernie, whose enterprises include a growing presence on terrestrial and Internet radio as well as promotion in Florida, brings his customary enthusiasm and energy to this worthwhile project. It was good to see him on the stage again with his wife Deb on bass and the accomplished Isaac Taylor and Lamont Goff on banjo and mandolin. This band can become a strong regional presence.

Ernie Evans
Deb Evans

Isaac Taylor
Lamont Goff

Highway 41 South
Highway 41 South is a traditional bluegrass band playing mostly classic bluegrass and country tunes. In the two years since we last saw them, they have developed the increased confidence and skill that comes from playing frequently and staying together.  Recently, they have had opportunities to play as James King's back-up band and will be opening for Claire Lynch in Bradenton and Jim Lauderdale in Punta Gorda later this winter.  They play at festivals in Florida as well as at the Southwest Florida Bluegrass Association get-togethers in Venice on a regular basis.

Mark Horn

 J.R. Davis
Robert Feathers

Donnie Harvey

Dave Beaumont

 Tomorrow's News

Tomorrow's News, the Hall Family band from Fort Meade, FL, is doing what you'd hope all family bands would accomplish. As daughter Kalyn prepares to leave the family for marriage and son Bryce is ready to head in new directions, father Victor Hall asserts it's time for him to retire from active performance. This band has provided engaging music over the past few years, and we'll be sorry to see them go, but making such a decision makes an eloquent statement about the roles of parents in a family band. 

Victor Hall

Kalyn Hall

Bryce Hall

Steve Durrwachter

Bryce Hall & Gavin Baulic

The Wilson Family Band

Watching Katie and Clint Wilson grow up over the past five years has been one of the joys of our participation in bluegrass. We first saw them at the Spirit of Suwannee Bluegrass Festival in March of 2007.  What attracted Irene to them at first was the joy she saw in Robert Wilson's face as he watched his children perform.  The smile is still there.  But Clint and Kalyn Hall may have their own plans as will Katie as she continues to grow.  Meanwhile, they've become dear friends with whom we love to visit.  Clint ran sound at Newell Lodge  along with his friend Brandon Bostic (Blue Moon Rising and other bands) along with Robert. It was as clear and full sounding as any we've ever encountered.  Clint is also busy completing his degree at Valdosta State and writing music. Oh...did I mention he's getting married in about six weeks?  

Robert Wilson

Clint Wilson

 Katie Wilson
Melissa Wilson

Bruce Sheriden
Shannon Slaughter & County Clare

Shannon Slaughter, a member of Lou Reid & Carolina along with bandmate Trevor Watson in this current band, has recently released a justly well-received CD entitled The Sideman Steps Out.  Along with his wife Heather, he presents a well structured, tuneful, and carefully written set of his own songs.  The CD has received good reviews and been featured in a track-by-track interview on Sirius/XM radio with host Kyle Cantrell.  Slaughter has a supple and subtle baritone voice which blends very well with his wife's harmonies.  Ron Inscore on mandolin is strong, as is Watson, with whose work we were previously familiar.  This new band is worthy of serious consideration by promoters seeking a new traditional band to add to its lineup.

 Shannon Slaughter
Heather Slaughter

Trevor Watson
Ron Inscore

Shannon Slaughter & County Clare - You're My Music - Video

NewFound Road

NewFound Road has been touring with Joe Diffie as his backup band as well as continuing to tour on their own as an excellent bluegrass band whose repertoire includes classic bluegrass, arresting progressive tunes, and grassed versions of rock and country music.  Tim Shelton continues to be one of the finest singers in bluegrass. He has a supple voice able to show deep emotion with clarity and understanding.  Joe Booher, on mandolin, is a lively, energetic sprite whose solo work brought a standing ovation from this largely traditionally oriented crowd.  Josh Miller on both banjo and guitar brings excellence to both instruments, and Jamie Booher on bass is one of the best.  The band is particularly notable for its musical flexibility.

Tim Shelton
Josh Miller

 Jamie Booher

NewFound Road - In a Room at the Top of the Stairs - Video

Joe Diffe

Joe Diffie, affecting a "return" to bluegrass after his country career appears to have cratered, does himself no good by neglecting (refusing?) to leave his bus to mingle with the bluegrass crowd at festivals where he performs.  Bluegrass audiences know how to be both admiring and respectful to the stars who appear among them.  Top entertainers, who take the time and make the effort, find their audiences to be authentic people with a genuine knowledge of the music. Diffie is doing significant damage to his bluegrass career by not learning who his audience is and reaching out to them in a personal way.

Joe Diffie - Route 5 Box 109 - Video


Mr. and Mrs. W.a. Pate

Mike and Mary Robinson
Bluegrass Gospel Sing and Jam


1 comment:

  1. Mr. Lehmann, Thanks for posting the great review on Newell Lodge. I enjoyed seeing your quality photos, and write ups on most of the bands. One correction that could be made is that The Andrews Family Band is from Lake City, FL, not Callahan. Thanks again.