Monday, November 19, 2007

Del McCoury Band and Crooked Still close successful festival debut

By Ted Lehmann

The Upper Valley Bluegrass Festival at the Opera House in Lebanon, NH held this past weekend differentiated itself from being merely a pair of very good concerts by offering an afternoon of workshops at the nearby AVA Gallery and Art Center just around the corner from the Lebanon Opera House where the concerts were performed. By offering workshops in this delightful, light and airy space, Opera House Executive Director C. Partridge (Buzz) Boswell, has created an event that should prove to be an ongoing success. In the evening Crooked Still opened with a fine set and the Del McCoury Band concluded the festival with nearly two hours of some of their best work.

The three announced workshops featured local bluegrass folk making presentations about the nature of bluegrass music. Ford Daley, a bluegrass veteran dating back to the days when bluegrass penetrated Harvard Square, discussed the genesis of classic bluegrass music, playing recordings of classic first and second generation greats and then placing them in a context of developments in the music to the present. Steve Hennig chatted with banjo partisans about his approach to the banjo. Both workshops were satisfying and interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t attend the jamming workshop led by Rich Heepe, because I was otherwise engaged.

Apparently, earlier in the week Buzz Boswell had called Ronnie McCoury to ask whether a member of the band, perhaps bassist Alan Bartram, could present a brief workshop. Ronnie assured him it would happen. Shortly after 2:00 PM, as Ford Daley was winding up his workshop, the entire Del McCoury Band came into the room, tuned up, and offered to take any questions the thirty or so people assembled there might have.

[See Ted Lehmann's Bluegrass, Books, and Brainstorms for the complete report.]

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