Friday, April 24, 2009

Bloggin' From the Bluegrass Festival

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I spent yesterday afternoon at the Country Bluegrass Show in North Platte.  This is the 9th year for the festival and organizer Donna Mentzer and her crew have done a fantastic job of lining up great Bluegrass acts.  

The Bluegrass Show is held in the Beef Barn at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.  There is some bleacher seating, but for the most part, you just bring your own lawn chairs.  This photo was taken during the first set at noon on Thursday.  Pretty good crowd to hear the opening acts.
Digger Davis and Tombstone was the first band in the lineup.   Digger Davis and Tombstone is a traditional bluegrass family band that formed in August of 2004.  Digger Davis has played professionally for eighteen years and is a former State of Texas Banjo Champion.  In August 2004 Digger and wife Jeannie, along with their now 17 year old son Jonathon and 15 year old daughter Jamie formed "Digger Davis and Tombstone."  17 year old Jonathon Davis who is the band's guitar player has  placed third in the "Texas State Flat-Picking Championship" twice, as well as winning other various guitar contests.  Digger Davis and Tombstone are now touring the US and Canada fulltime. 
Next up was the Stanleytones from Colorado.  The Stanleytones Bluegrass Band was formed in 1999, when the original members met while attending local jam sessions in the Boulder area. The band was named after the Stanley Brothers, Ralph and Carter, who played throughout the 50’s until Carter’s death in 1964. Having recently finished recording a new album, The Stanleytones’ passion for traditional bluegrass is evident in the their sound, and has made them into what they are today---a classic bluegrass band reminiscent of those early bands of the 50’s and 60’s, with an added repertoire of original compositions comprised of melodic instrumentals and skillful vocal harmonies.

Another family group was up next, the Ozark Alliance.  These guys were a special treat, because they are avid train fans, which is a perfect match for the North Platte Country Bluegrass Show, since North Platte is the home of the largest railroad yard IN THE WORLD! And boasts a fantastic way to see the yard from the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center.

Anyway, enough about North Platte.  Here's the scoop about the band.  It's always a treat to see a bluegrass band work a single mic, and Ozark Alliance, which consists of mom and dad Dennis and Robin and kids Alex and Jenny recently won first place in a single mic contest in Branson.  
The youngest member of the band is four-year-old Allison.  She didn't join the family on stage, but manned the sales table.  She does have her own pint-sized fiddle and mandolin.  I'm sure she'll be a powerhouse in years to come.
Goldwing Express has been to four straight Country Bluegrass Shows.  Dad Bob Baldridge and sons Steven, Shawn and Paul hail from Oklahoma by way of Branson, Missouri.  Shawn channels Conway Twitty, and had the ladies in the crowd screaming for more.  
The last band to take the stage before the dinner break and the start of the evening of Gospel performances was Danny Paisley and Southern Grass.  Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass play powerful, unadorned, and intense traditional bluegrass. There is no hybrid or genre-bending music here. It is music borne of the vibrant old time southern fiddle bands, as well as the lonesome moans of the backwoods mountain blues. The instruments blaze with energy while the songs reveal a paradoxical, desperate sadness anchoring the music squarely in the classic bluegrass tradition. Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass combine those forces with a drive and energy that takes over your senses. It is music you not only hear, but feel in your gut.

I didn't stay for the Gospel night performances, but Mark and I are back for the entire day today.  Call me a pansy, but spending the day in the beef barn with 90 degree temperatures just wore me out - imagine what the performers felt like!  Today's temperatures are in the 60's with a nice breeze.  Now I'll probably have to have blankets!

Thanks for stopping by.  Join me in the food building for a cup of coffee. 

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