About Me

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Pomfret, CT, United States
I use this blog to maintain and promote bluegrass and to showcase artists and festivals.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

PineCone Bluegrass Blast

PineCone, a part of the Piedmont Council of Traditional Music is a non-profit organization formed in 1984 as a vehicle to honor traditional and “old time music” which is a large part of North Carolina’s heritage. In an effort to raise 5,000 dollars to help support its concert series PineCone will present its first ever “ Bluegrass Blast and Silent Auction” at Lake Benson Park in Garner, NC on August 16. The Gibson Brothers, International Bluegrass Music Association’s “Emerging Artist of the Year," 1998, have been invited to perform their mix of traditonal and original bluegrass. The folks at Garner will be treated to wonderful brother harmonies as well as exciting, masterful picking by Leigh Gibson on flattop guitar, Eric Gibson on banjo, Rickey Hayes on his own "Hayes" mandolin, Clayton Campbell on fiddle and Mike Barber on bass. The Gibson's are always a joy to hear.

Eric and Leigh Gibson

Mike Barber and Rick Hayes

Clayton Campbell

Mike Barber

Eric Gibson

PineCone is supported by the United Arts Council of Raleigh and the City of Raleigh as well as the North Carolina Arts Council. Garner, is located in the north central section of NC known as the “Triangle” ( anchored by the cities of Chapel Hill; Raleigh and Durham.)

Monday, July 21, 2008

Buttery Brook Festival

The fifth annual Buttery Brook Bluegrass Festival got off to a hot and humid start saturday under threatening skies in So. Hadley Mass. The concert area is in sort of a shallow bowl surrounded by grassy hills which made for good viewing and the music could be heard easily from any area. Most of the audience sat on the hill under the trees but for those who like to be close to the band there was a tent close to the right of the stage and lots of grass right in front. There was a good crowd on hand even though Grey Fox was in full swing in nearby New York.
The featured band, "Travers Chandler and Avery County" came on just before a thunderstorm which thinned the crowd considerably, but those who stayed were treated to some rollicking, gritty traditional bluegrass played with intensity by some very talented musicians, who, by the way, were dressed to the "nines" and sporting some colorful footwear, (Travers in orange shoes with white uppers and Jay Armsworthy in black shoes with white uppers) They were going for the "speakeasy" look of earlier days. At any rate they put on a heck of a show with fine vocals and super pickin and got some laughs with their antics, at one point Travers and Jay were jumping in time to the music, I mean in sync jumping at least six inches off the stage and never missed a note. They proved to be crowd pleaser both as musicians and entertainers.

Travers Chandler and Avery County

Mike Mumford Travers Chandler Brad Wood and Jay Armsworthy

Mike Mumford

Travers Chandler

Jay Armsworthy


Hailing from Cape Cod, Mass., "Crabgrass" is a band made up of veteran musicians who sing and play with confidence and ease, trading lead vocals, as they all can step up to the mike and tear it up. They play old and new bluegrass equally well and all are fine instrumentalists. They do tunes such as: "Big Spiked Hammer"; "Blues Stay Away"; "I Dont Do Floors" and so on, a real treat to hear. On banjo and lead vocals, Les Beavan, Chris Miner on mando and lead vocals, Steve Finch and Dan Fortier, guitar and lead vocals, and Steve Healy on bass and lead vocals.


Steve Finch

Chris Miner

Dan Fortier

Twelve year old Joshua Alan Williams and his band North Country were a big hit with the audience. Joshua seemed right at home and perfectly confident in his delivery of early country tunes and some traditional bluegrass. He's got a strong tenor voice and is a joy to hear. Joshua's accompanied by his father Dan on guitar, Jon Roc plays the mandolin and Herman McGee plays banjo.

Joshua Alan Williams

The Bristol Boys deliver a mix of early country, (Jimmy Rodgers, Hank Williams Sr.)and traditional bluegrass. Matt Nozzolio sings lead and plays a bluesy dobro while Dave Orlomoski plays guitar and sings lead on occasion. Dave Aston plays bass and often takes breaks that are a treat to hear. I particularly enjoyed the train songs the band does, with Dave singing the "Wreck of the Old 97" in his smoky mellow voice and Matt doing "Peach Picking Time in Georgia" in his clear tenor voice. They sing well, good harmony, and the pickin is sweet.

The Bristol Boys

Dave Orlomoski

Matt Nozzolio

Unfortunately we had to leave before Mac and Hazel McGee and White Mountain Bluegrass took the stage, but my friend Matt said "they did a fantastic job..." and, "few singers can project a song like Hazel does, and her harmonies with Mac are what bluegrass is about." My thanks to Dave Helman of "Country Corner Productions" and his pleasant staff for a fun, and well run festival.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Podunk Festival Preview

Surrounded by a bustling city, picturesque Martin Park sits on 26 acres of open space in East Hartford CT. Fortunately for fans of Bluegrass on the last day of July through the third day of August it becomes a mecca for music. It's baseball diamond will become a concert area with stage and tents for the artists and the audience, and its perimeter will be lined with food vendors, instrument dealers and more.Its fields will become campsites and workshops for the hundreds of fans that stream into the park to enjoy one of the strongest lineups in Bluegrass bands today.

photo by Larry Bilansky

The Larry Stephenson Band will take the stage on Saturday for two sets. Larry is one of the most prominent tenors in bluegrass, winner of the SPBGMA "Contemporary Male Vocalist Award in 2001, 2004, 2005, and 2006 and also a member of the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame.

Larry Stephenson

The Dale Ann Bradley Band can be heard for two days, aah, what a treat, I fell in love with her voice immediately, it's unique, smooth, clear and the kind of voice that can make an otherwise forgetable song, unforgetable Can't wait to see her.

Dale Ann Bradley

Dan Paisley and Southern Grass has to be one of the hardest working bands around, they seem to be booked at most of the Festivals in the country and it's no wonder, they provide PURE bluegrass delivered at a blistering pace, very little banter on stage, just song after song. Dan's voice is made for grass, high tenor, nuance, emotion, he's got it all. Happily, he's surrounded by super talent: Donnie Eldreth on mandolin; Bob Lundy on banjo; TJ Lundy on fiddle and Mike Paisley on bass.

Dan Paisley

The Steeldrivers are a group of veteran songwriters/studio musicians/performers who've decided to come together and take their brand of bluegrass to the masses. Singing mostly original music penned by the band, particularly Chris Stapleton and Mike Henderson, the strong, gruff, bluesy voice of Stapleton is the sound of the band. Mike Henderson, an award winning songwriter whose songs have been done by the Dixie Chicks, Kenny Rogers and many other top Nashville artists plays mandolin and sings harmony. Tammy Rogers on fiddle and vocals comes from a bluegrass family and has played and sung all her life as well as touring with the likes of Trisha Yearwood and Reba McEntire. Grammy nominated Richard Bailey plays the banjo and veteran Mike Fleming plays bass and baritone vocals. This is a group you wont forget.

The Steeldrivers

The Infamous Stringdusters captured the IBMA's 2007 "Album of the Year Award" with their CD titled "Fork in the Road", its title track won "Song of the Year" and the band won "Emerging Artists of the Year", that ought to tell you there worth the ticket price right there. Known for their virtuosity and gifted improvisation this band is not to be missed. The members are: Andy Hall, dobro; Andy Falco, guitar; Chris Pandolfo, banjo; Jeremy Garrett, fiddle; Jesse Cobb, mandolin and Travis Brook bass.

Infamous Stringdusters

Nothin Fancy is a band of really friendly, genuine, human beings that can also play and sing bluegrass, in fact they do that so well that SPBMGA awarded them "Entertaining Group of the Year" in 2008. Known for strong vocals and dynamic instrumentation, this band has developed a devoted fan base, many say that if they were only allowed to see one band a year it would be "Nothin Fancy". With Mike Andes on lead vocals and mandolin and guitar; Mitchell Davis on banjo; Gary Ferris sings tenor and plays guitar; Chris Sexton on fiddle and on bass Tony Shorter.

Nothin Fancy

2005 IBMA's "Entertainer of the Year," "Grammy" nominated in 2006 Cherryholmes is known for beautiful harmony an aggressive rhythm style, drive, and high energy. I especially like how each member of the band gets to highlight their talent as they take turns singing lead or soloing on their instrument. In addition to bluegrass you'll see traditional country, twin fiddling, Irish step dancing and clawhammer style banjo. The Cherryholmes band appears often on the "Grand Ole Opry".Jere "Pop" the father of the clan, emcees and sings and plays bass, Sandy Lee (Mom) handles the mandolin, sings, and switches to clawhammer banjo when needed. Cia Leigh plays banjo and sings beautifully at tenor and high baritone. BJ plays fiddle and sings lead and harmony. Skip plays both lead and rhythm guitar and sings as well. Molly Kate plays fiddle, sings lead and harmony.


2004 IBMA showcase band Cadillac Sky is best described as progressive, with superfast picking and edgy vocals. Bryan Simpson plays mandolin, fiddle and sings lead. Brian is an accomplished songwriter as well with some of his work recorded by several mainstream country artists. Matt Menefee is an award winning banjo player. Mike Jump plays a hot guitar, Andy Moritz plays bass and Ross Holmes does the fiddle playing.

Cadillac Sky

With a sweet, warm, lilting voice Claire Lynch has long been a favorite of the bluegrass world. She's won IBMA's "Female Vocalist of the Year" and has had two Grammy nominations for Best Bluegrass Album. She's received praise from Dolly Parton, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless as being one of the best vocalists in the business today. She's surrounded by talent as well. Jim Hurst, her guitarist has won two IBMA Guitarist of the Year awards and Mark Schatz two IBMA Bass Player of the Year awards. Jason Thomas plays superb chops on fiddle and mandolin. I know you'll love this band.

Claire Lynch

Dailey and Vincent have to be the hottest band in bluegrass today. The lead singers Jamie Dailey and Darrin Vincent have won so many awards over the life of their careers I don't have room to list them. Jamie played with Doyle Lawson and Qicksilver for about nine years and then decided to try a new direction with his friend Darrin Vincent. Darrin was a member of the Ricky Scaggs and Kentucky Thunder Band for ten years. Darrin plays bass, mandolin and does lead and baritone vocals, Jamie sings lead, tenor and baritone and plays guitar.

Dailey and Vincent

The other bands performing are: Gravity from Sweden; Auldridge, Lester and Ferguson with Gail Wade ( a wonderful singer from CT )Keene Hyatt and Marc Roy; Karl Shiflett and Big Country; The Muellers; Blue Moon Rising; Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson and Jerry Salley; Joy Kills Sorrow; Tony Trischka; Blistered Fingers and Pine Mountain Railroad.
A popular event on Sunday is the performance of the Kids Academy Band. Tutored and mentored by accomplished CT musicians Tim St.Jean and Vicki Baker and staff the kids learn a little more about their instruments, how to play in a group and how to present themselves on stage.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Danny Paisley at Jenny Brook

Danny Paisley always gives his all, never a let down, high energy all the way. He did four sets over the weekend,all of them sensational. From heartbreakers like "The Room Over Mine," which is the title of his new Rounder release,and "The Convict and The Rose," to lightning fast tunes such as "I'm Leaving Detroit." Dan and his superpicking sidekicks deliver raw bluegrass with soul and deep felt emotion that keeps the audience either on the edge of their chairs or dancing in place. After inviting Danny on stage during their set and having him sing one, Adam Steffey remarked,"I think I just lost my liver or something," alluding to the pure power of his voice on the high parts. This band always leaves you wanting more even after four sets in two days. Danny's band mates are: Donnie Eldreth Jr. playing mandolin and lead or harmony vocals. Donnie is a gifted player and fine singer; The talented Bob Lundy on banjo and harmony vocals; Fine fiddle player Brother TJ Lundy, and Dans brother Mike Paisley holding it all together and Man, he can play the fire out of that bass. After the final set folks were screaming for more, just one more, Please.
Danny Paisley

Donnie Eldreth

Bob Lundy

Dan Paisley sings with DTB