Friday, April 3, 2009

the springfest 2009.....


I've been attending the Suwannee Springfest since 1999 and it didn't take long for me to figure out that this would be one of my favorite festivals. Besides the wonderful wonderful music that I've heard and been introduced to at the Springfest, the venue and the weather and the people all have been superb. I can honestly say that that northern Florida spring festival weather is usually the best weather that any festival could hope for. (there are of course exceptions to all rules...>g<)

Again, this year's lineup had many highlights in my ears...with the highest being of course the Mike/Darol/Vasen mindblower. Others included David Gans opening the Ampitheatre Stage on Friday morning and I wish I would have caught his set with the Rowan Brothers, doing a Beatle Tribute. I had heard them do some Beatle stuff during the post-Magfest party last October, and those guys are gooood! They call themselves the "Rubber Souldiers"....

Darrell Scott is always a treat. The first time I saw him he was playing with Sam Bush and actually I watched a Station Inn rehearsal with Sam and John Cowan teaching songs to Darrell, with his first appearence with the band that night....and I've been a big fan ever since. Bryn Davies joined Darrell on the bass and both Darol Anger and Rushad Eggleston each played one of Darrell's sets. Super, super music....

Darrell and Bryn....



Rushad joins in and I wish the sound from my camera was better....

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Darol joins Darrel and Bryn....



Scythian is a hoot! Total full-tilt energy happenin' with those boys...they are so much fun!



And I'm really liking the Duhks these days...their sound continues to evolve and Sarah can really belt out a tune!



The Emmitt Nershi Band always is a treat as well. I first heard Drew Emmitt and Bill Nershi back on the streets and campgrounds of Telluride in the late 80s, early 90s. They make a great team and the band is hot...especially when Darol joins them!



And there's always room for Peter. He put on a great solo set and he also called up his brothers to join him. He also led the Vassar Bluegrass Jam, and that's always a treat.



Vassar Bluegrass Band with the lovely Sue on fiddle...



Richie Havens...went 35 years without ever seeing him and now I've seen him twice in the last couple of years; damned powerful.



Verlon Thompson is the definition of southern cool....what a sweet man and a great entertainer.



There were other musical acts that I enjoyed, without the photos! Roy Bookbinder is always fun, The Gourds had folks rockin', Seth Walker is a great bluesman (!), and then there was Tornado Rider! Rushad and his band are most certainly entertaining at a very high intensity level....it's a musical experience that you have to actually live though to try to understand; and it's still baffling. And the festival closing set with Donna the Buffalo and many friends jammin' it out was a great dancin' finale! My legs and feet at that time were telling me not to fool with them any longer....

A great festival! Kudos again go out to Beth and Randy Judy....you do a helluva job, my friends.

Peace, David

springfest trip...part 2

It truly was a magical musical trip to the south for me, despite the setbacks. (sometimes things just seem to work out....and I love it when that happens.)The first was the fact that Lynn and I had big plans to attend the Bluegrass Hotel concert, in Louisville, on March 20. This was the most anticipated concert that I can remember and when it fell on its face I was not happy! But, Lynn had taken a day off of work so she could ride with me to Louisville and we had purchased a plane ride home for her from Nashville on the 21st, so we decided to just head straight to Nashville; there was bound to be some good music somewhere in THAT town...>g<

And there was! The Station Inn has been a destination/stop/detour for me for many years now and I've seen some mighty fine shows there. And that Friday night was no exception, for the Josh Williams Band was on the schedule. I had become aware of Josh around 10 years ago when he was playing with the Special Consensus, booked at the Minnesota Old-Time and Bluegrass Music Festival. I was mighty impressed with the young man and bought what probably was his debut cd...he was very young at the time and a very hot guitarist. Well, now he's a grown man and his playing is still hot (he's played with both Rhonda Vincent and Tony Rice since I saw him...) and he is fronting a hot young band that I sure got a kick out of. The Station Inn was packed that night, and Lynn and I and my good buddy Dave #2 were the last three patrons they let in the door. It was a fun night...

Josh Williams Band...



During the day on Saturday we toured the Country Music Museum and Hall of Fame in Nashville. I had been to the old one back in the mid-90s and thought that it was very cool, and it sure has grown and changed since then and so now it's just as very cool. It's well worth the time and money spent if you have some time in Nashville. (man....did Bill Monroe ever beat up on his mandolin...! >g<)

On Saturday Lynn flew home and I had planned on seeing the Steeldrivers at the Staion Inn that night, but a change in the schedule brought on Bobby Osborne and his Rocky-Top Express band...another "setback" (I use the term very loosely here...), but certainly worth being flexible about! Amazingly, it was the first time that Bobby had been booked at the Station Inn; he mentioned it a couple of times. He had been there as a guest vocalist a few times, but this was his first paying gig...>g< He celebrated by playing "Rocky Top" twice (once at the end of set one and then again at set two), and the crowd loved it! The place was not crowded at all, so I even got to do a little dancin' an the side...it was another fun night.

Bobby Osborne and band....



An Osborne treasure....

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This is some HOT bluegrass fiddlin'....! I love it.

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So...two nights spent and two nights not according to plan and two nights of butt-kickin' tradtitional bluegrass! Pretty damned sweet, I'd say...and the next night WOULD go according to plan, and that plan involved Atlanta and Darol Anger and my musical mind being taken to new places and I'm still diggin' it.

Peace, David

Thursday, April 2, 2009

my type of march madness......

Being the music lover that I am, this past March was a highlight that would be hard to top! Mike Marshall and Darol Anger rank in my musical book at the very top echelon, joined only by a few....Sam Bush, Richard Thompson, Doc Watson, to name the few. It's been frustrating at times, confusing to me as to why certain festivals have passed on booking them in the last couple of years; in my fantasy mind they'd be playing at EVERY festival that I'm going to...>g< But this past month helped to make up for this confusion, as I was treated to one amazing show after another.

It started off in Minneapolis on March 6, which happens to be my twin daughters' birthday and it's not the first time that I have celebrated their birthday with a super concert. Mike and his Big Trio played the Cedar Cultural Center, along with classical mandolinist Caterina Lichtenberg and accompianist Mirko Shrader. This duo hails from Germany and were simply amazing..she played a very old small kind of mandolin, using a feather for a pick! She and Mike had met at a mandolin show somewhere and the two of them have become good friends and musical partners. This duo was followed by mandolinist Peter Ostroushko and his accompianist for a quick set. Peter is a legendary Twin Cities musician...he's been entertaining folks in these parts for many years.

And then Mike and his Big trio took the stage and I almost immediately burst into tears....they blew me away damn near as soon as they started. The Big Trio consists of Mike and 16 year old violinist Alex Hargreaves and 22 year old bassist Paul Kowert, who according to Sam Bush would give Edgar Meyer a run for his bassist...
Mike specifically wrote the music for their cd with these two young phenoms in mind; he says in the liner notes that in all the thirty years of him playing with some of the world's top musicians that he'd rank these fellows up with any of them! Quite the statement....

And added bonus to that night was the fact that Lynn and I were able to turn her aunt and uncle onto some new music! David and Ingrid were also blown away...they are classical music fans and this type of new acoustic music fit their tastes well! It was really fun to watch them being awed...>g< The only sad part of that night was that I got no pictures....

Then...on the way down to Florida and the Suwannee Springfest, I was really lucky to be able to catch Darol and his Republic of Strings, at Eddie's Attic, in Atlanta! This is a superb venue...not only do they serve great food and beer and probably wine, but they also remind folks that this is a "listening room" and that everyone should turn off their cell phones and conversations except for those quick "hot damn.."s, or holy shit..."s or some such quick unavoidable comment. As good as Mike's Big Trio show was, Darol's was every bit as good!

His band consisted of Scott Nygaard on guitar, Lauren Lioux on fiddle and Mike Block on cello. (both Lauren and Mike are of that young generation of spectacular musicians that is just bursting at the seams it seems...) After the show I asked Darol about the young phenoms that he and Mike like to find and he smiled broadly and said: "yah, we like the young folks around for the heavy lifting...when a hard part comes around we just nod it off to them....>g<"

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Then it was time for the Suwannee Springfest, where the big anticipation was to see Mike and Darol, along with the Swedish super-group, Vasen. Thanks to Maria, I had heard the collaboration on a cd...so I was excited to hear them live, and there was no disappointment! In fact, elation would be a good term for what I was feeling. I first heard Vasen during a morning "Meet Vasen" set in the Music Hall. They played for about 45 minutes and Mike and Darol joined them for the last 15. This was supposed to be followed by a mandolin seminar with Mike, but he gleefully announced that they all wanted to keep playing, so I and everyone else there was treated to a two hour magnificent mind-blowing concert!

Mike and Darol...

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Vasen....



Olov Johansson and his nykelharpa....



Mike and Darol....



Vasen....

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Mike and Darol....from the Meadow Stage Friday evening

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The whole group...on the Meadow Stage

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The next day the boys graced the Main (Ampitheater) Stage and the results were every bit as spectacular. I relish the Darol/Mike treat that was the month of March!

The coolest cat on the face of the planet...



And I'd especially like to thank my dear friend Maria Camillo, booking agent for Mike and Darol and a host of other fine musicians, for making this past month of musical magic possible! Let's do this again, soon, my friend....


Peace, David