Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Larry Stephenson, Local Scene at Berryville Bluegrass, VA

Frank & Cyndy Jurney
For the past ten years promoter Frank Jurney and his wife Cyndy have been promoting a winter bluegrass series for the benefit for the Clarke County Athletic Association in the 550 seat auditorium at Johnson-Williams Middle School in Berryville, Virginia. During that time, in addition to offering superior bluegrass programming monthly through the winter, the program has donated more than $200,000 to the athletic association.  For the past several years the series has been a sellout, with very few seats available for each performance.  A move to a new and larger facility now under construction is being contemplated. Meanwhile, the current auditorium offers unobstructed sight lines, comfortable seating, and superb sound.  Next year's lineup was announced last Saturday night and will be posted soon on the series' web site.

Johnson-Williams Middle School Cafeteria
Fans Wait Cheerfully

Saturday's show necessitated a late change in lineup as the scheduled Gibson Brothers were unable to come due to the sad passing of their father, Kelley. A Plan B was soon arrived at. Meanwhile the usual sellout audience appeared to see The Larry Stephenson Band as well as the, as yet un-named, Plan-B Band, whose membership and name were (pretty) well-disguised. 

The Larry Stephenson Band

With his Virginia roots and national profile, Larry Stephenson is a natural for the Berryville Bluegrass Series. Larry brings a deep understanding of and affinity for traditional bluegrass to every performance. More than twenty years on the road have brought seasoning, solid performing, and a well disciplined, enjoyable sound. His current band is tight and strong, seeming to enjoy every moment they spend on the stage. Each member of the band brings strength, and this four piece band projects a full, well-balanced sound. A Larry Stephenson song always includes well-loved songs he has sung for years as well as new material that fits well into his band sound.  There's always a good strong representation of gospel music.  The addition of Kenny Ingram has brought an important piece of bluegrass history to the band while allowing Ingram to contribute elements of his talent overlooked in recent years. He's a good singer, and enjoys singing. Kevin Richardson, on guitar and harmony vocals brings a well-disciplined flat picking style to his play that never loses track of the melody. His voice is rough hewn, well-articulated, and on the money. Young Danny Stewart, who's been with the band for just a year is strong on bass and contributes bass vocals in gospel quartets.

Larry Stephenson

Kenny Ingram

Kevin Richardson

Danny Stewart, Jr.

Larry Stephenson Band - Pretty Blue Dress - Video

The Larry Stephenson Band can always be relied upon for a solid, professional, and enjoyable performance.

Plan B Band - The Local Scene
How many promoters can pull together a pickup substitute band like this one? Three members of a storied Washington area band, a related member of several fine national bands, and the leader of another came together to provide a fun-filled alternative set for the enthusiastic and appreciative audience. Dudley Connell, Fred Travers, and Ronnie Simpkins, all members of The Seldom Scene, Rickie Simpkins, a member of the Tony Rice Unit, Virginia Squires, and a noted session player, and band leader Larry Stephenson, who just happened to be there anyway, pulled together a show joyfully filled with songs from The Scene and other sources. Dudley Connell brought his always engaging stage personality and lead singing to the mix while each player had plenty of opportunity to show his stuff.  Larry fit into the mix like a well-worn glove. One of the true joys of bluegrass, as with fine jazz, is the results of bringing together surprise groups and then letting them show their stuff. This band more than rose to the occasion, as did the audience, even though all were saddened at the Gibson Brothers' loss.

Rickie Simpkins
Larry Stephenson

Ronnie Simpkins

 Dudley Connell

Fred Travers
The Local Scene - Pan American Queen - Video

Irene & Sally Love Connell Watch Rehearsal

 Hey Guys, Let's Make a Band!
Larry Stephenson and Dudley Connell

Promoter Frank Jurney

We took a lot of video at this fun event. More can be found at my You Tube Channel. Please visit there and subscribe in order to receive updates when new videos are added. You can also subscribe to this blog by clicking the "subscribe" button below.

1 comment:

  1. Your website is very interesting!

    I found two very good programs of bluegrass acts from Spain. Thanks and best regards