Monday, January 12, 2015

Balsam Range & Circa Blue at Berryville, VA - Review

Balsam Range

Berryville, VA has become the first musical stop on our winter/spring tour in recent years. It's convenient to our route south when we stop to visit Irene's Mom, who lives in Bellefonte, PA with her youngest daughter. And you can always count on promoter Frank Jurney and his wife Cyndy to put on a first rate show. In recent years, the Berryville Bluegrass Series has moved to the brand new Clarke County High School, which boast a wonderful auditorium featuring comfortable seating and warm sound. This evening's show, headlined by IBMA 2014 Entertainer of the Year Balsam Range and opened by the quite solid Circa Blue provided another fine example of why we like to stop in Berryville. The series is presented as a benefit for the High School Athletic Association. Seating capacity of the auditorium is 700, most of which were filled this evening.

Clarke County High School Auditorium

Snack Bar

Circa Blue Warming Up

Circa Blue
Steve Harris

Circa Blue has been completely reconfigured since we last saw them at the Spring Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival nearly two years ago. The addition of Alia Furtado on fiddle has added vocal and musical range to the band. Her clear tight harmony and fiddle playing made a substantial contribution. Teri Chism, formerly with Bill Emerson's band, also added. Steve Harris is a commanding presence on stage, serves as band emcee, and sings in a strong baritone voice. Ron Webb and Matt Hickman round out the band, providing full tone and strong work on mandolin and banjo respectively. Their repertoire represents contemporary and traditional music as well as some songs written by band members. They were a good band to open.

Alia Furtado

Ron Webb

Matt Hickman

Teri Chism

Circa Blue - East Virginia Blues & Thundercloud of Love - Video

High School Cheerleaders Select 50/50 Winner

Promoter Frank Jurney

 Balsam Range

Balsam Range has had one of those years: Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year to Buddy Melton, and bassist Tim Surrett was selected as Mentor of the Year at the Special Awards luncheon held the day of the Awards show. Their schedule is full, featuring performances at major events in the upcoming year like the Savannah Music Festival, Silver Dollar City in Branson, MO, Dollywood Barbecue & Bluegrass, ROMP, Bristol Rhythm & Roots, and many more. Despite increased visibility and acclaim, they continue to perform at a broad range of medium size and smaller festivals, shows, and concerts. Their music is always fresh and exciting, reflecting the deep faith of the band's members as well as their eclectic tastes, running from more-or-less traditional bluegrass through fervent gospel music to Jim Croce and the Allman Brothers. Songwriter Milan Miller has composed a lot of original material for them and they always add material written by band members, too. While they were recognized this year as Vocal Group of the Year for their fine ensemble singing, their musicianship is impeccable, too.

Balsam Range - Stacking Up the Rocks - Video

Master Sound Man John Holder - Blue Ridge Sound

Buddy Melton

Darren Nicholson

Caleb Smith

Tim Surrett

Marc Pruett

Balsam Range - Chasing Someone Else's Dreams - Video

Next stop: YeeHaw Junction

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