The Sertoma Youth Ranch is located in a beautiful live oak grove within a few miles of Brooksville, FL, which supplies all necessary shopping, and an exit off I-75 with plenty of motel rooms for non-campers. Since we live in our trailer for months at a time, we like to get to most bluegrass festivals the Monday before they start to settle in, get the lay of the land, and prepare for the festival. Sometimes we even get some jamming in. Here's some pics from a walk we took on Tuesday morning, before there were many people who had arrived.
Deeper Shade of Blue comes from Monroe, NC, also the home of many other bluegrass performers. The band is noted for its high quality and desire to remain close to home, family, and jobs. Unfortunately, they cannot escape getting recognized for the high quality of their music and professionalism of their stage presence. They sing traditional music from a range of sources, much of it not so familiar that bluegrass fans have grown tired of it. Almost all members of the band have spent at least some time on the road. The band is polished and high quality. The group has been relatively stable throughout its history, leading towards a sound and vibe that can be counted on. Always enjoyable!
Blue Highway has been a major band for more than twenty years. They've only had two personnel changes since their founding, the first when banjoist Jason Burleson left the band for a brief period before returning, and the second when ace Dobro player Rob Ickes found himself going in other directions, leaving the band for good, after a run which included fifteen years as IBMA Dobro player of the year. Beyond that, however, they have consistently been nominated for IBMA awards throughout their long history, and are widely accepted as one of the most important bands in bluegrass, both for their consistent performance and ground breaking music. They are always musically challenging and usually very interesting to hear. Their performance at Sertoma featured lots of songs from their new CD Original Traditional as well as a reworked and refreshed presentation which was the strongest I've seen in several years.
Dave Adkins, from eastern Kentucky, has been searching for just the right outlet for his country inflected, lively version of bluegrass music. The band he brought with him fully filled the bill. Arriving exhausted after an all-night bus drive from Bristol, TN, Dave put on the kind of energetic, enthusiastic show he is known for. People asked me, "Is he always moving and grinning like that? Is that the real Dave Adkins?" Of course, the only answer is, "That's who he is, and it's delightful." Dave writes interesting songs, chooses good bluegrass classics, and covers other interesting songs. His band includes Nashville stalwarts and Kentucky friends, giving him the sort of solid support he deserves. He's one of the hardest working performers around, leaving it all on the stage.