Finding time to get back in the studio seems to be eluding me lately....but for good reasons.....my recent girlfriend art camp for one.....and over the weekend, for the 10th year in a row, we attended Bluegrass First Class.
It's an annual indoor bluegrass festival that features nearly non-stop music for over 12+ hours each day. My butt is sore!!
The best known, most professional acts have been on this stage for 21 years. The 'Queen of Bluegrass" Rhonda Vincent is one such example. Now this is the way I'd like to travel....that is if a private plane is out of the question!
Most artists in this field of music are not glitzy like the country music stars often are. She's the exception....high energy, glamour, and great music are a given at all her appearances.The quality of musicians is outstanding.....just when you think a group can not achieve any higher standards....they do. This young man on the left is....wait....drum roll......16 years old!!! He's not considered excellent because of his age.....he is truly an excellent fiddle player. Incredible in fact! He's still in high school getting mostly A's with 2 B's.....while still traveling with a group called Sideline.
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver is a group we've seen and enjoyed enormously many times. He's the only male bluegrass star I can think of who dresses more 'country' than bluegrass.I wasn't expecting too much from this group......students at Eastern Tennessee State in Johnson City, TN. It's the first university in the country to offer a bachelor degree in Bluegrass music. Graduates are now finding their way into some of the top touring groups in the country. The fiddler on the left is only 20, hails from Canada and is winning fiddle contests all over the country.
One really special aspect of this festival is the organizer's dedication to offer opportunities to young players. Generally the first 2 acts each day are just that. It provides them with experience and the chance to rise or fall as their talent warrants. Kinda like the instructors that enter the quilt circuit.
The Bluegrass World is VERY family oriented. Audiences are super respectful, no talking during performances, no drunks, no disruptive shouting or other craziness, no smoking, no cell phones....I NEVER ever heard one ring in all the years we've been going. Can't say that for quilt lectures or workshops!! Oh....there is cheering, clapping, and well deserved standing ovations.....but all very civil.
Here's Lou Reid's 2 year old grandson who charmed the whole room as he stood on the stage for the opening song performed by one of my all time favorite groups, The Seldom Scene.
The Seldom Scene's last founding member, Ben Eldridge retired in January. You can see his photo on the screen which almost looks like an obituary. Many people feel a sense of mourning, he was that loved. His banjo style has often been copied but never duplicated. We were delighted to be the first to hear his replacement....who plays every string instrument in the bluegrass arsenal....plus he has a great voice. All in the family....he's the brother of the upright base player.
So....if you are a bluegrass fan....I hope you enjoyed this brief look at a wonderful annual festival held every February in Asheville, NC. If you aren't.....hey......listen to one of the best songs they ever recorded....click here.