Sunday, January 28, 2007

Bryn Davies Joins Patty Griffin

Long time bassist & vocalist with Peter Rowan, Bryn Davies has moved on to back up Patty Griffin.

Sunday, January 28, 2007 Change of pace I just finished my second week with Patty Griffin. I'm so excited about the coming year! I've loved her music for years and having the opportunity to play with her is so wonderful. I'm going to miss Peter, Tony and Sharon soooo much, but a good change of pace never hurt anyone. I'm just sad that this opportunity presented itself right when we have a new record out. Anyway, the band is great. Doug Lancio on guitar, and Michael Longoria on percussion. My job seems so effortless! I forgot how much easier it is to play with drums. Patty is great as well. She has great rhythm and her voice! My lord. I get to hear her angelic voice every night! What a treat. I'm really going to miss all my friends this year. Bluegrass is such a great, tight-knit community. I've loved being a part of that for the last 8 years, but it's time to move on. Onward into the great unknown pop world. It looks like it's going to be really fun...

powered by performancing firefox

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Saturday, January 27, 2007

High Mountain Hay Fever Announces '07 Lineup

High Mountain Hay Fever

Ron Thomason has announced the lineup for July's High Mountain Hay Fever bluegrass fest, held in ultra-scenic Westcliffe, Colorado.

An intimate, 4 day fest of about 3,000 fans a day, HMHF manages to entertain and raise money for a local community clinic. Here's the lineup:

Thursday, July 12

  • Kantankerous
  • Sweet Sunny South
  • The Ackermans
  • Coal Creek Bluegrass

Friday, July 13

  • Bluegrass Patriots
  • Mike Compton and David Grier
  • Bill Lowe
  • The Gibson Brothers
  • Dry Branch Fire Squad
  • Sons and Brothers

Saturday, July 14

  • Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press
  • Lou Reid and Carolina
  • Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz
  • Bluegrass Patriots
  • Mike Compton and David Grier
  • Gibson Brothers
  • Bill Lowe
  • Dry Branch Fire Squad
  • Sons and Brothers

Sunday, July 15

  • Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top X-Press
  • Lou Reid and Carolina
  • Bill Lowe
  • Ginny Hawker and Tracy Schwarz
  • Dry Branch Fire Squad
  • Sons and Brothers
Still to be announced is the Workshop schedule. Discounted tickets are availble here, at the incredibly reasonable price of $65 for a four day pass. Camping is available nearby and the town offers a variety of lodging options.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

powered by performancing firefox

Preview - Palatka Bluegrass Festival

The 3rd Annual Palatka Bluegrass Festival will take place from February 8 – 10, 2007 at the Rodeheaver Boys Ranch – Highway 19, Palatka, FL. Headliners will include the new Bibey, Gulley, Leadbetter super-band Grasstowne in their first festival appearance, as well as Rhonda Vincent, Larry Stephenson, James King, Doyle Lawson, The Grascals, The Cherryholmes, and more. This three day festival presents a top line-up from start to finish.

Rodeheaver Boys Ranch is located about ten miles south of the town of Palatka, FL along state route 20, just north of the Ocala National Forest. The ranch provides a home for boys who, because of neglect or parental incapacity, have been judged suitable for residential housing. Boys living at Rodeheaver have no history of legal problems and are not delinquent. Rather, they need a home and structure, which Rodeheaver provides. The Palatka Bluegrass Festival is one of the major fund raising events for this very pleasant and welcoming facility.

During the past three years, the Ranch has developed a campground, which now provides over 500 sites with water and electricity, for bluegrass fans who are RVers. The town of Palatka provides additional housing in motels. The campground provides generous numbers of porta-johns. The festival offers regular shuttle service to the performance area for those who find walking difficult. A covered shed assures that performances can continue regardless of weather. There is a shower area where festival attendees can get hot showers. Breakfast is served in the Rodeheaver dining room each morning. Festival food vendors in 2006 sold a variety of fair foods and more wholesome offerings, including a first class Cajun kitchen.

Promoters Adams and Anderson have assured a top notch lineup and spent significant time tutoring Rodeheaver officials in the how to’s of festival preparation and promotion. Little is left to chance at this event. The date for early bird tickets is past, but tickets at the gate cost $70.00 for all three days, including camping. There is plenty of field picking representing a wide variety of skill levels and there is an Open Stage each morning at 11:00. This festival provides first-class traditional bluegrass in a setting designed to maximize enjoyment.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Mardi Gras in New England

I've been impressed with the outstanding bookings and staging that Chuck Wentworth helps to produce at the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, so I've wanted to experience some of the Zydeco-themed events that he manages for his own company, Lagniappe Productions. The big one is Rhythm & Roots in Rhode Island over Labor Day weekend, but New Englanders can get taste of his jambalaya at two earlier events, the Crawfish Fest in Augusta NJ in June and (coming right up) the 15th annual Cajun and Zydeco Mardi Gras Ball February 17 in Cranston RI. Some of the biggest names in Louisiana roots music will be on hand, CJ Chenier & The Red Hot Louisiana Band and Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys head the bill as the folk traditions of Cajun and Zydeco cultures are celebrated in the bayous of Rhode Island. Arrive a day early for the Fat Friday Zydeco Frenzy and don't forget to get in the Mardi Gras spirit by coming in costume for the ball.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Thinkin' Suwannee Springfest...

A post from Dancin' Dave:

Even though I just got in from a wonderful ski 'round the ol' homestead where the sky was sunny and blue and the air crisp, I'm still thinking about my first festival trip of 2007, to the much warmer but every bit as sunny northern Florida springtime!

The Suwannee Springfest is held at a very cool venue that is made for festivals, and the Springfest is a top-notch festival all the way. Beth and Randy Judy's motto is: "Ours is not a better way, ours is merely another way". I like it....

This year's lineup includes Jorma Kaukonen; the Peter Rowan & Tony Rice Quartet; Dan Hicks & The Hot Licks; The Duhks; Donna the Buffalo; Darrell Scott; Jim Lauderdale; Verlon Thompson; Olabelle; Crooked Still; the Joe Craven Duo; Ray Wylie Hubbard; The Infamous Stringdusters; David Gans; the Avett Brothers; Roy Bookbinder; and many others. Sweet!

For those who don't know about it, Dave provides a wonderful camp setup service that's a great solution for anyone traveling long distance to a festival.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Featured Feed: The Bluegrass Blog

Periodically Festival Preview will turn the spotlight its content feeds, focusing on one of the genre experts whose blogs fuel the FP content engine. We recently sat down with Brance Gillihan of The Bluegrass Blog to learn about trends in the music and about the impact his and co-editor Jon Lawless's blog has made in the bluegrass community.

When the Bluegrass Blog began publishing in 2005, very few musicians or industry people in the bluegrass community had any idea what a blog was. Two main magazines serve the bluegrass market and a few web discussion forums had come along, but the idea of daily news and commentary was something that was new in the closely knit bluegrass world.

Neither Gillihan, a recording engineer, nor Lawless, a publisher of music instructional materials, had experience in journalism, but they both had some computer expertise and a deep love for the music.

Coming from within the community, the bloggers chose to tread lightly concerning unauthorized news and gratuitous opinion. Initially, they also strictly limited the ability of readers to post their own comments out of concern over flaming and rumor-mongering.

Gillihan said he and Lawless saw it as part of their role to be a publication of record. While they run information about new recording projects or band personnel changes before the news is officiailly released, they typically get solid confirmation before publishing.

That may set them apart from blogs in other subjects areas where bloggers push the boundary of reporting standards and readily mix news and opinion.

In the early days of the Bluegrass Blog, Gillihan and Lawless had to do a lot of digging to come up with news to post. Now The Bluegrass Blog is well enough established that most genre musicians and PR people know to send them news.

By now it has developed into a very active blog, with an average of about five new posts every weekday and a couple on weekend days. According to Gillihan, the blog is getting read by up to 1500 unique readers a day, with consistent traffic throughout the work week and half as much on weekends.

The readership includes industry professionals and average fans, but Gillihan said the core is what he would call "non-professional artists," bluegrass musicians who still have a day job.

In another measure of its influence in the community, The Bluegrass Blog has eased the restrictions on commenting and is now a forum for active discussions and guest postings. As an example, there was recently a vociferous debate among commenters about the propriety of concert taping.

Meanwhile, The Bluegrass Blog has begun to make an impact on the existing bluegrass media market. Like print media in many markets, the two principle bluegrass magazines have dabbled with the Internet but not really embraced it, probably out of fear of compromising their advertising and subscription business model. Now that The Bluegrass Blog is taking advertising and growing its readership, one wonders if the magazines are beginning to worry a bit.

Gillihan said he has seen a rise in interest and savviness about the Internet from musicians and industry business people. For the last several years he has moderated panels and hosted mentor session about the Internet during the annual IBMA convention. Several years ago, those sessions were sparsely attended but at the last convention people were standing in the halls trying to get in, he said.

"About all that some of them know is that they need a MySpace page," Gillihan said with a laugh, since he believes the MySpace momentum has topped out.

Despite overlap from categories such as Americana and folk, Gillihan and Lawless remain fairly pure about covering bluegrass. He says they will report on news that doesn't involve a banjo, but that the core of their readership comes from the traditional end of bluegrass.

"I'm a Del McCoury kind of guy and I am never going to abandon that for the fringier stuff," Gillihan said.

On the other hand, he notes that the founders of bluegrass, Bill Monroe and Earl Scruggs, were musical innovators and that it is intrinsic to the music to evolve. Pointing to Chris Thile as an example, he said there are many new directions being explored and that there is also a great deal of cross pollination with other genres, such as the bluegrass influence in the jam band scene.

One of the most encouraging trends that he sees is the emergence of a new generation of musicians, including very young musicians like the Lovell Sisters who play well not just on the level of control and mastery but also in tastefulness. "They are playing good music and it makes me wish I was there when I was that age," he said.

Gillihan sees evidence of that in his personal life as well. As a youth leader at his church, he finds that most of the young people he mentors are into mainstream pop music, but his influence has brought some of them around to an interest in authentic bluegrass as well.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Getting jazzed for Wintergrass

The first big event on my "bluegrass-plus" roots festival calendar this year will be the great Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival February 22-25 indoors in multiple venues in Tacoma WA. I had an incredible experience blogging from there a year ago, and this year the lineup looks even better. In addition to marquee acts like Tim O'Brien, the Jerry Douglas Band, and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the festival will present almost every leading member of the genre's "youth movement," starting with the consensus choice for most innovative player in modern bluegrass, Chris Thile, but also including breakthrough stringbands The Greencards, Uncle Earl, The Infamous Stringdusters, Crooked Still and The Mammals. Wow!

The festival's publicity is spinning the lineup as "the changing face of bluegrass," and who could argue with that? Not that lovers of mainstream bluegrass won't have plenty to cheer about as well. Lawson's band is the standard-bearer for vocal-oriented bluegrass gospel and Blue Highway--with superstar instrumentalists Rob Ickes (dobro) and Tim Stafford (guitar) --is widely seen as one of the top contemporary bluegrass outfits. Add to that some of the most promising emerging acts from the traditional end of the spectrum--Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, 3 Fox Drive, and The Gibson Brothers--and you have a lineup that would satisfy the most hard-core of traditional bluegrass fans.

But to me the big story is the confluence of bands that are leading the rebirth of old-timey string-band music and fusing it with a modern sensibility. A few months ago, the New York Times highlighted this trend in an article featuring Uncle Earl, The Mammals, Crooked Still, and a few others. And here they are all in a single festival, along with several other bands that could easily have been grouped as part of the same movement. In particular, The Greencards have opened lots of eyes and ears over the past several seasons and The Infamous Stringdusters are on track to become the next youth-oriented breakout band. Also, Hot Buttered Rum will be on hand ably representing the vibrant jam-band bluegrass set.

But the star of the youth movement has to be Chris Thile and his new ensemble, The How to Grow a Band, including Noam Pikelny, Gabe Witcher and Chris Eldridge (also in the Stringdusters), and for this appearance featuring one of the world's best guitarists Bryan Sutton. Of course, Thile is the wunderkind who made his name as the virtuoso mandolinist in Nickel Creek. That band is on hiatus this year (although it will reassemble for a few dates during the festival season) while Thile branches out with his improvisational new project. How to Grow a Band will be a major fixture on the circuit this season, and I'm expecting great things from them.

Here I am five paragraphs deep into the post and have yet to mention names like Joe Craven, the jack-of-all-trades musical personality who brings a unique presence to every festival he is a part of; Darrell Scott, John Cowan, and Pat Flynn, three veteran superstars of the progressive bluegrass scene who began performing as a trio last year; or Mike Marshall and Hamilton de Holanda, who amazed the Wintergrass audience last year with their multicultural virtuosity. In addition to playing their own duo set, Marshall and de Holanda will be joined by Chris Thile for a special midnight show on Friday that is certain to be extraordinary.

Finally, Wintergrass does a great job of showcasing the best of Northwestern regional talent. This year, 10 regional bands including local favorite Jo Miller & Her Burly Roughnecks will be mixed in the lineup among the headline and other national acts.

The performances are presented on four stages in downtown Tacoma, two in ballrooms at the Sheraton and Marriott Hotels, an adjacent conference center pavilion, and a nearby church. The Sheraton is the headquarters, where lobbies, elevators and every available niche fills up with impromptu jams. The festival also presents a rich menu of workshops, youth and adult music academies, and an impressive showcase of craft and other vendors.

If you've never been to a Wintergrass and can manage to get away for the long weekend, this is one not to miss.