Bean Blossom: Tuesday
Tuesday morning is a cool, overcast day. If it stays like this it will be a great day to sit under the trees and listen to bluegrass. We’re all keeping a wary ear to the weather forcasts for the next two days with a deluge predicted for tomorrow.
First up was the Magnolia Ramblers. A four-piece band, without fiddle or Dobro and using an electric bass, they were good instrumentalists though the bass player did get lost a time or two. Their lead singer and spokesperson, Alan Sibley is the mandolin player and he’s as folksy as they come when he talks but is a very good singer. He appeared for several years with the Sullivan Family (scheduled for Sunday) and has appeared with some of the top names in country and bluegrass. The crowd liked them, calling them back for an encore, something unusual for the early shows.
Even though it’s a great morning for music it’s still early for a lot of people. I’ve played for crowds this big at a pizza parlor. They’ll be here later, though, because this is IIIrd Tyme Out day.
The schedule is tight today, maybe a band or two too many. Most of the bands have a thirty minute slot and that’s just not enough. Today’s the day the kids in the Bluegrass Camp play and they are a demonstration that bluegrass has a great future.
First-timers Remington Ryde were up next. A five-piece band that now includes Indiana native and James King Band veteran Greg Moore, their music was traditional-based and okay. Their harmonies were not the tightest of the week so far and their one-mic approach just didn’t work well, making it hard to hear them sing. Their lead singer isn’t a bad singer, but his voice lacks the sparkle of, say, Tim Shelton of NewFound Road. The best backup musician in the group is the fiddle player. For his fiddle piece he at least didn’t play "Katy Hill" (one of a handful of tunes that get worn out at festivals). He picked "Angeline the Baker" and did a fine job on it. Now, if they could just come up with better jokes …
The Moron Brothers were up next. (See Monday for more about them.)
The Wildwood Valley Boys are always a treat for me. They come from southeastern Indiana and are lead by Tony Holt, a fine singer. If you’ve been a fan of bluegrass for a while you’ll remember one of the great groups of the past, The Boys From Indiana. Aubrey Holt, Tony’s father, has aged a bit from the appearance seen in the video, but he sings as good as ever and travels with son Tony and the band. John Rigsby helped out on fiddle and they played some songs from their new CD. This was great traditional bluegrass.
Charlie Sizemore is another artist who supports traditional bluegrass. He’s a singer and songwriter who spent time with Ralph Stanley in his younger years then left the music to become an attorney before coming back into the fold. His band is without a fiddle player but does have a resophonic guitarist and a stick bass. He currently has one of the top bluegrass CDs in the nation. He kicked it off with a new, hard driving number and concluded with his number one hit about his longing to be in Alison’s (Krauss) band.
After another appearance by the Spinney Brothers, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper took the stage. I’ve seen Michael perform many times and he’s one of the best bluegrass fiddlers ever to play the music. Our mutual friend, Brian Leaver (late of the Wildwood Valley Boys) brought him out to my house to play one night and it was a pleasure to sit and play music with him for a few hours. But, this day I was curious. Just days ago I saw the news on bgrass-l that longtime bandmembers Jesse Brock and Tom Adams were gone, intent on starting their own band. Charlie Cushman, with him since just January is still with him, now joined by David Peterson (David Peterson and 1946) singing lead and multi-instrumentalist Jeff Guernsey on mandolin, at least on a temporary basis. Jeff played with Lloyd Wood along with my dad many years ago. Great traditional music with great playing and singing. The band is flying out to Telluride after they leave here tonight.
Appearing again this year is Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road. Band members include Tommy Long, Ben Greene (James King, David Parmley, Bluegrass Cardinals), and Eddie Biggerstaff on bass. Lorraine is one of the founding members of the Daughters of Bluegrass and is committed to traditional bluegrass. She’s always a pleasure to watch. Rural Rhythm Records recorded part of her set (and IIIrd Tyme Out’s) for a "Live at Bean Blossom" theme album.
Closing both sets was IIIrd Tyme Out. Russell Moore is the sole founding member now and his singing is a good as ever. Steve Dilling on banjo and Wayne Benson on mandolin/mandola, friends for many years before joining 3TO, joined within six months of each other in the early 90’s. Justen Haynes on fiddle and Edgar Loudermilk on bass (and bass vocals) round out the musicians. Donnie Carver has been with the band since 1996 as their audio technician, running the sound board wherever they appear. Always a crowd favorite, they demonstrated again why they are one of the top bands in bluegrass with favorites like "Woman Dressed In Scarlet" and one of their most requested songs since debuting on their first album, "Erase The Miles." As part of their Bill Monroe tribute they closed with "The Old Crossroads," "Bluegrass Special," and "Uncle Pen."
And Tuesday was Bluegrass Camp day. Run by Rickey Wasson (J. D. Crowe) and wife Sarah, with the help of many volunteers, they give training each year to youngsters wanting to play bluegrass music. This year eighty kids appeared on the Bean Blossom stage.
It was a great day at Bean Blossom.