Saturday, July 15, 2006

Late start on Saturday morning

Sorry to say I got a slow start this morning and can't report on the Abigail Washburn 11 am set. She is up again on the workshop stage at 1, so I can see then what guests are on hand. Right now, the Red Stick Ramblers, one of the Dance Stage mainstays is taking their main stage set. These guys are a hot band with a Cajun feel, definitely worth a listen. Also there is a "low notes" workshop on now with Mike Bub and Rushad Eggleston. Hopefully I will catch a bit of that, too.

I stayed around camp longer than expected this morning to hang some more with Chris. A few of the Hit & Run Bluegrass players, who are camped next to us, came over for a bit of picking. Man, I wish I had brought my mando after all. I was thinking that I was streamlining my traveling load, but a clear mistake in retrospect.

My brother Walter and his mate Tanya will be visiting for the day, arriving from their home in New Jersey around 2. That will undoubtedly also cut into my blogging for today, so I'll apologise in advance. There are a lot of highlights today. Some of my favs King Wilkie and Crooked Still are on this afternoon. The Lovell Sisters, a set a teenage sisters I first saw last fall, have the potential to surprise a lot of people today.

The big trend of the day is what I would call red-state bluegrass. One of the nice things about the bluegrass world is that diverse views on politics, religion and culture are well accepted. Today, Ricky Skaggs, probably the most prominent of the traditional values set, anchors an extended program of mainstream Nashville bluegrass. That includes two of the hottest bluegrass acts on the country charts, The Grascals and Mountain Heart, and the leading male vocalist of the genre, Larry Sparks with his Lonesome Ramblers. It's going to be a great evening of bluegrass, though with a distinctly red-state spin.

But then it will be topped off by the most outspoken of all blue-state bluegrassers, with Steve Earle and his Bluegrass Dukes, who take the stage just before midnight to balance things out. Maybe Grey Fox is the fair and balanced festival. I did hear a story that management had attendees take down a huge illuminated peace sign that had been erected yesterday in the trees near the stage. The rumor I heard is that management felt that the sign was politicizing the festival and that there is a segment here that is not anti-war. That seems reasonable to me. I don't think we should take the politics out of bluegrass, but we shouldn't let it polarize the community.

On that subject, I'll mention how much I was struck by some of Ron Thomason's political speech yesterday. Normally, the home-spun story-telling leader of Dry Branch Fire Squad, steers pretty clear of controversy, but his song about welcoming home a soldier in a coffin was highly charged. He also tossed in some comments about homophobia and shook his head about his home-state senator, Wayne Allard (R-CO).

Tim O'Brien also had a brief political moment with his clever "Republican Blues" song, which he introduced with a warning that some people might prefer to step out for a 3-1/2 minute break. Now I'm off to look in on the workshop.

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