Merlefest 2008 was a banner dance year for me....I actually visited the official Dance Tent a few times; and there's a nice little area at the Watson Stage to dance and I was fortunate to have a good friend/dance partner sitting nearby! I love to dance with sweet Lynn, but with sore knees her dancin' time is limited so she sends me off to find other partners and I always say: "yes, dear...".
Friday night the Dance tent was hoppin' to the cajun beat of the Pine Leaf Boys and it was a blast! At one point I noticed a beautiful young woman looking like she'd like to dance and of course she did....she was so beautiful that she reminded me of my daughter Monica; they both can dance and they have wonderful sweet smiles and they are both cuter than cute. And Annalisa has alot of the same facial mannerisms and even facial structure that Monica posseses.....spinnin' her around and looking into her eyes and her smile was almost WAY too much fun! >g< So of course I asked her where she lives (the two partners before her came from Maryland and Austin, Texas...) and probably wasn't surprised that she replied: "Alaska..". Wow. I then asked if she came to Merlefest with friends, family....? and she replied: "I'm in a band and we are playing on the Watson Stage tomorrow morning"!
The band is Bearfoot and probably my best new "find" of the festival. I of course made it to the Watson Stage the next morning, where they were joined on stage by the Lovell Sisters and Sierra Hull & Highway 111. (talk about a bunch of young talent...these youngins' in all of these bands are tearin' it up!!!) Annalisa had told me that her instrument is the fiddle, but I came to find out that in my opinion her instrument is her voice; and the rest of the band are wonderful vocalists as well. I bought their cd, "follow me", and still wasn't surprised to find that she also wrote most of the songs on the cd....whew. And I was really impressed by the fact that Bearfoot obviously takes pride in their appearance...."sharp" would only begin to describe the classy way they present themselves. I couldn't have been more impressed.
And the Lovells are a gem and a treat! Way way cute, these sisters are very talented and their sibling harmonies are precious. 16 year old mandolinist Rebecca is "ready for the big boys" as far as her prowess on her instrument, according to Jack Lawrence.
Sierra Hull is yet another cutie who has a very bright future in the world of acoustic or probably whatever other genre of music she heads for. I think she's also all of 16 now....during that Watson Stage set she said "hi" to her Daddy out in the audience who just so happened to be sitting next to my good buddy Ed who was sitting next to me. That was one proud-lookin' father, I can tell ya'!
And I really liked the Ricky Skaggs/Bruce Hornsby set...those fellows rocked it out. The Levon Helm set was super-hot! I never was a big Band fan, but of course I knew of a bunch of their tunes. It sure was a hoot to have Sammy join in the fun....it seems as if no big "star" doesn't want King Sammy to sit in for awhile. (I heard that Sam was going to be part of the Mandolin Mania at the Creekside, but got called away early by Mr. Watson himself, who wanted Sam to be part of the Merle tribute set.)
It was great to see the Waifs again! I became a big fan the last time they were at Merlefest and seeing them again was exciting....I love their sound and their attitude and their songwriting, and it would be hard to have too many cute sisters in too many hot bands; it just seems right.
I already touched on Sam and the Waybacks.....hot enough and enough said.
I'm not an Avett Brothers fan. But boy, it sure is obvious that there are alot of Avett Brother fans, including a couple of close friends of mine who don't understand why I'm not crazy about the Avett Brothers...too. But...I just don't get it.
Saw a really nice set with buddy Jack Lawrence, T. Michael Coleman and Jeff Little on the Austin Stage on Sunday. (I had also met T. back in the Mole Lake days and he's the guy who turned me on to Telluride, telling me that: "You should go..."; and he was right.) The three of them made some sweet music; I wasn't familiar with Jeff...he sure is a fine piano player! And after the set Lynn and I and Jack and his wife Katie and my buddy Ed got a chance to sit and visit for awhile at my campsite.....something that doesn't happen very often at Merlefest. It was fun to introduce Ed to Jack and Katie...Ed's a guitar player who wishes he could play guitar like Jack! We got caught up enough so that none of us was late for the Jerry Douglas set....>g< (another blistering set, of course, but I had to wonder what was with that hat?!" (another thing I guess I didn't get...)
Ah....the Claire Lynch Band! How do YOU spell sweet, or smooth? Claire has a voice of an angel and a band of masters that keep the good sounds flowing. I missed her Sunday set because of the upcoming weather, but luckily I caught her Saturday Hillside set. And the Infamous Stringdusters continue to impress....it is going to be so much fun to watch them mature as a band. The Austin set with Sam Bush, Peter Rowan, Tish Hinojosa, Mike Bubb, and Laurie Lewis was a treat as well...
Whew....so in my listings of the shows I saw during the festival in my last blog, I did neglect to add one final set....the Bearfoot set on the Cabin Stage, which actually was the musical close to the festival for me. (and a fitting fine last treat, at that!) I could hear the Sparrow Quartet and the Dan Tyminski Band from my campsite that I was tearing down...in the rain! And if things had been right...I could have caught those shows; but...
There are no musical complaints from me concerning Merlefest 2008!! It was again a super super event and many thanks go out to all the folks who are responsible for its being.