As long time readers of this blog know.....I'm an avid bluegrass fan. We are so fortunate to have access to so many talented groups that pass through this area. Each February 'Bluegrass First Class' - a 2+ day festival is held in Asheville. Live performances run 12 hours a day in the showroom, but everywhere in the hotel, music can be heard at every hour from the open doorways of rooms as the 'jams' are non-stop.
Without going to check the line-up sheet....I'm guessing we saw 12 different groups. Here are some highlights.
I was excited to see Dale Ann Bradley's group this year for the first time. This 5 time IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) female vocalist of the year did not disappoint.Russel Moore and lllrd Tyme Out plays annually and they never disappoint. Every member of that group is outstanding.....with loads of awards to their names.
Rhonda Vincent also performs every year......professional, entertaining, and toe tapping.
I'm partial to the dobro....an instrument that looks similar to a guitar....with what looks like a hub cab on top! Normally, one or maybe two groups will feature one....this year, to my delight, that number was much higher.
Doyle Lawson (and his group) has appeared the last two years at this festival. If you listen to Sirius radio (Bluegrass channel).....I swear you'll hear one of his recordings every hour. A tribute to his longevity in bluegrass. His flashy clothing is more at home in the country music world, but it suits this 70+ gentleman so well.
Then there's the new kids.......Joe Dean who may now but all of 21 has probably been playing professionally since he was 16.....and can he play the banjo!!!! Wow...
Here's the really new kids on the block....none over the age of 25. Flatt Lonesome just won the 2015 IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year Award. There's something about family groups who sing together....the harmony is hard to beat. With the exception of the shorter male playing the upright base.....the others are siblings. Older sister on the left (at age 24)....in the center is Buddy....who is a twin of Charly on the right. The blend of their voices sound like they have come straight from heaven.
The evening session began at 6:00 PM.....we didn't get to bed that night until 1:45 AM. My butt is dragging now......