Thursday, August 13, 2015

Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival 2015 - Saturday & Sunday: Review

It's a good thing that the Hebron (CT) Lions Club Fairground provides lots of usable space, because in its second year at this delightful new venue, Podunk demonstrated its capacity to grow and continues to do so. Saturday and Sunday at Podunk lengthened the string of four clear, warm days and mild nights that make for a fine festival filled with activity and music. Roger Moss introduced national bands new to the region and the audience, the small, but apparently busy Acoustic stage attracted enthusiastic listeners for more progressive Americana/Acoustic music, and people attending the festival, in their own festive way, created their own experiences designed to provide each person with a unique festival experience. Here it is:

Apparently People Were Too Satisfied to
Attend the Annual Town Meeting in Crowds

The Voices of Podunk Kids

Plenty of Hot Showers & Flush Toilets

A Jam on Tent Hill

The Acoustic Stage from Tent Hill

Personal Trailer: Just Right for Beth

The Zolla Boys

The Zolla Boys, Sam and Ben with their father Larry on bass, stepped in to fill the hole left when last year's winning competition band was unable to attend. While admittedly still short of sufficient material to fill a full set, their touring and work throughout the summer has resulted in greater stage presence while their clear, close harmonies continue to impress.

Ben Zolla

Sam Zolla

Zolla Fans....

The Railsplitters

The Railsplitters are a Colorado-based bluegrass band in the midst of an eastern tour which is part of a grueling summer which will take them from coast to coast in the United States as well as a three week tour of Germany this summer. This creative, innovative band finds its own niche within bluegrass offering strong band-written originals and clear, recognizable covers along with close harmonies. They're filled with energy and life. We'll be seeing them again at Delaware Valley on Labor Day weekend, and expect to give them an even closer look. See them on this summer's tour if they're near you.

Lauren Stovall

Dusty Rider

Leslie Ziegler

Pete Sharpe

Chrisine King

Christine King, Dusty Rider, Lauren Stovall

The Volunteers at Camping Headquarters
Were Hard at Work All Weekend

Enjoying the Music in Their Own Way

Blue Canyon Boys

The Blue Canyon Boys are another Colorado-based bluegrass band filled with innovation and energy. Their instrumental and vocal work is solid, despite an annoying degree of plugged-inness. Jason Hicks' unfortunate electronic sound was annoying, while Chris Elliot's banjo was muffled to reduce its natural sound and provide an electric vibe. Such reliance on being plugged in might make sense when playing in noisy western barrooms, but when provided by the kind of superb acoustic sound Rosewood Sound offers, they would have been better presented by allowing a more natural sound to emerge. Their very interesting approach to merchandise sales places responsibility on the buyer to decide how much their CD's and other merch are worth to the buyer, who then places the appropriate cash in a basket, making their own change. Seems to work pretty well.....

Drew Garrett

Gary Dark

Chris Elliot

Jason Hicks

Drew Garrett & Jason Hicks

The Acoustic/Americana Stage

Music continued for a third day on the Acoustic/Americana stage as small, but avid audiences found their way to the rather remote location to enjoy local progressive bands presenting their material. It would be helpful to find ways to highlight these bands and drive additional potential listeners to the venue.

Kids Activities

Bluegrass University

Sister Sadie

Sister Sadie provides a stronger, more persuasive argument for the place of women in bluegrass than the Daughters of Bluegrass ever did. Each of the women in this band also works extensively in non-gender related situations as featured side musicians or fronting their own mixed gender bands. Nevertheless, it's valuable to remind audiences that women, playing without extensive electronic augmentation project musical power, speed, and versatility equal to any other band around. Despite the busy schedules of all the members, this band is worth contacting and booking for its sheer excellence. 

Deanie Richardson

Tina Adair

Gena Britt

Dale Ann Bradley

Beth Lawrence

Shade Always Helps

Winner of the Song Writing Competition 
with Roger Moss

Emcee Stan Zdonik

Seldom Scene

On Saturday afternoon I was chatting with Missy Armstrong of Detour outside the Workshop stage. She commented that one of her greatest thrills in bluegrass was sharing the stage with the traditional band, The Seldom Scene. Oh, how time changes perspectives! When The Scene came on the scene in 1971, they represented a radical departure from the bluegrass music of the time, introducing bluegrassed versions of the folk music and rock music popular at the time. They were a fringe  band. Some claimed they were "not bluegrass." Today, the Seldom Scene's extremely popular repertoire is in the heart of traditional bluegrass music, proving without campaigning the rolling target that traditionalism truly is. While Ben Eldridge still performs with The Scene, he prefers not to travel long distances from home in order to save his back. Trevor Watson has been ably filling in for Ben when he cannot play a date. 

Trevor Watson

Ronnie Simpkins

Lou Reid

Fred Travers

Dudley Connell


Mark Fitzgerald - Rosewood Sound

Rosewood Sound has presented wonderful sound at the last two festivals we've attended. Visit their web site to discover why their unique sound system, designed and built by Mark Fitzgerald is uniquely designed for presenting acoustic music. We hope to see Rosewood at more acoustic festivals soon.

Todd Hutchinson

Gospel Sing & Jam
Mike and Mary Robinson

Back at Our Rig - The Pump-out

James Reams & the Barnstormers

James Reams & the Barnstormers made a welcome return to Podunk after several years' absence. He and his band play old-time bluegrass with a tinge of country in a light, breezy and authentic style. There's lots of energy in their performance and more people need to hear it.

James Reams

The Podunk Kid's Academy

Here's a link to a photo portfolio of the Kid's Academy at Podunk. You're welcome to download these pictures and use them in any way you wish. The Photos should be large enough for any web purpose or for printing in sizes up to 8x10.

The Blue Canyon Boys closed out the festival on Sunday afternoon to those die-hard fans wishing to spend a lazy Sunday in the Sun. Podunk has successfully re-established itself in a fine new venue, and tickets for next year are already on sale. Next year's dates: August 11 - 16, 2016. See you there!

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