Tuesday, April 28, 2009

All the News from the 2009 Country Bluegrass Show

The best way to start out my post about the final performances at North Platte's Country Bluegrass Show is to thank Donna and Don Mentzer and all of the army of volunteers that it takes to put on an event like this.  They do it because they LOVE Bluegrass music, they like to give back to the community, they want people to enjoy themselves.  All those long volunteer hours just so other people can have fun!  Well... I think they did have fun themselves, and I'm sure they heard a lot of fantastic Bluegrass music.
I've said it before, and I'll repeat it here now.  A rising tide floats all the boats.  The team at the Bluegrass Show gets it.  They know that when people who enjoy Bluegrass music come to town, they might also like to take in some of the other attractions.  Here they set up a display of local brochures, an aerial view of the Union Pacific Bailey Yard and an advertising screen of the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center.  I have heard reports from the Golden Spike Tower that they, indeed, see an increase in traffic during the festival, as I'm sure did Buffalo Bill Ranch.  Several of the bands mentioned both attractions from the stage, as local hosts took them on tours.  THANK YOU!
And here's a scene in the crowded Beef Barn at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.  During the evening performances on Friday and Saturday night, it was standing room only!  Even the bleachers were filled.  Plans are in the works for the construction of a larger building on the Fairgrounds, and I sure hope it's done by the 2010 Country Bluegrass Show (which, by the way will be April 22-24!), because the event could sure use the room!
I want to go on by repeating (I should say paraphrasing) something that was said from the stage by Mike Andes of the band Nothin Fancy.  There is a lot of bad stuff happening in the world right now.  Just turning on the television and catching a news program or hearing a report on the radio is enough to evoke fear, anger and sadness.  The only way to combat the bad is with good, with caring about your fellow man, with being neighborly.  The organizers of the Bluegrass Show know this, the bands who performed from the stage know this, and the people who spent three wonderful days with their neighbors, chatting, strengthening bonds, making new friends certainly know this.  Every time we turn off the television, get together with friends and family, supporting one another, we are taking a stand against the bad in the world today.
Nothin Fancy followed up his remarks with a goose-flesh raising rendition of the Bill Withers' song "Lean on Me."  Risking a post that will be a mile long, I'm going to quote it here.  Their performance of it made the words sink right into your soul, and while I'm sure reading words on your computer screen won't have the same effect, they are still powerful.
Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don't let show

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Lean on me...

There were two absolutely wonderful performances by Nothin Fancy, who closed out the show at the 10:00 performance.  You can visit their website linked above or follow them on facebook
One of the great things about music festivals is getting up close and personal with the bands.  Nothin Fancy is the 2008 and 2009 Bluegrass Entertainers of the Year, yet after each performance, sometimes long after each performance, they greeted fans at their table.  The same is true for all of the bands.  Fans could get to know them, find out about where they were going to be performing next and buy a CD or two.

OK, so now on to some of the other bands who performed.  There was Brightwater Junction, with 2008 Mandolin player of the year Eric Coone. 
One of my personal favorites, Blue Swing.  This local band comprised of Luke and Brandon Raby and Ronnie Weigel are awesomely talented musicians.  I should know - they were the first band I hosted at the Nebraska Outback House Concert series!  North Platte is so fortunate to have them around.  They regularly play at local coffee houses and at A to Z Bookstore. They debuted on Nebraska Public Radio live at the Neville Center a few months back, and will perform on a folk music show on National Public Radio in the near future.
Midnight Flight was named Midwest Traditional Bluegrass Band of the Year in 2008 by SPBGMA, and it was easy to see why.  Excellent performances.  The Dobro is definitely one of my favorite instruments and Chad "Gravy Boat" Graves plays it well.
Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice have the number one album on the bluegrass charts, "The Blue Side of Blue Ridge".  Can you see why I'm telling you that Donna brings in all the best Bluegrass bands in the country?

Kathy Fults of Highway Home was awarded Female Vocalist of the Year for 2008 for Traditional Bluegrass.  We were treated to several performances by this band as they performed both on Friday and Saturday.
Now I've mentioned just about everyone except the Emcee for the show, Big Al Weekley.  Big Al is a fantastic Bluegrass artist in his own right, a song writer, a Bluegrass historian, an award winning DJ and a truck driver.  His contributions on stage take the show over the top, and I would imagine that he's heavily involved behind the scenes keeping things running smoothly as well.  
So, that about wraps it up!  I hope the organizers, the musicians and the fans all had a restful Sunday following the show and made it home safe and sound.  Why don't you make plans to come to North Platte for next year's Country Bluegrass Show - the 10th anniversary?  The dates are April 22 -24, 2010.  I will GUARANTEE you that you will hear great Bluegrass music!

Thanks for stopping by.  The coffee is always on.



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