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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Friday

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Friday

WinterWonderGrass CO 2017

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Friday Highlights

Cabinet - Gipsy Moon - Leftover Salmon

    It was a partly cloudy sky overhead as we made our way to the festival grounds proper.  Ticketing and security flowed really smoothly and, before we knew it, we were inside and heading up to the rail for some heady Pennsylvania grass with Cabinet.  And, for those that know their Cabinet, you’ll know that we were in for a real treat, and a chilly WinterWonderGrassy one at that.  Of course, it was to be high energy, dancin’, twirlin’ stompgrass from the very beginning with them.  After a slow, building diversion of a beginning, “Aint Gonna Work Tomorrow” developed with Pappy Biondo at the mic for lead vocals.  But this was just the start of one helluva fun ride into a fantastic set.  Everyone would get their chance at soloing, ’tis true.  And solo they did.  From Micky Coviello spicing things up with some seriously tasty guitar riffs to Todd Kopec on fiddle, shredding some strings with his fiery hot bow, things got down and dirty in the best way possible.  Of course, we can’t forget Pappy and his ninja-like banjo skills, playing deliberately in and out of tune throughout the song to match the lyrics.  I mean, that some pretty incredible stuff going on right there!  And what about that breakdown at the end?  The whole thing put us all in the perfect mood for dancing underneath the wintry Colorado skies to some seriously amazing string band music!  Bravi to these PA boys for bringing such heat to warm up the audience!  Off to one superbly good start, I’d say.  A little into their set, the band delivered up a great “Arco Arena” into “Diamond Joe” combo that continued to bring some staunchly excellent energy to the stage.  “Arco” is a brooding and intense instrumental which features the ensemble sound of this unique band in an exemplary manner.  Effect heavy and electrified, this tune is more journey than destination, exploratory…  Some great fiddle work from Kopec was counterpointed by Coviello on electric guitar, both weaving in and out of the fabric of the band’s overall texture.  Then they took this directly into “Diamond Joe”, a clear crowd favorite, putting the mic back in Pappy’s adept hands.  This also meant that the mando was firmly in JP Biondo’s hands, which is precisely where you want it to be.  He adds such flourish to the framework of every song, his style so distinctive.  Pappy crooned out the story of Diamond Joe in his hallmark manner, the band behind him forming a wall of sound and action in perfect support.  Definitely found myself loving Dylan Skursky’s bass lines during the ending jam alongside Jami Novak’s solo drumming (Josh Karis couldn’t make it this fest).  Those two really held things down while the rest of the band wailed overhead.  Great stuff, boys!!  Excellence!!  Further on down the set, we managed to capture a little video of this poetry-in-motion with Cabinet at WWG CO 2017.  Please enjoy “Po’s Reel” my friends!! 

Pretty cool stuff, right?  I mean, the entire experience…the snow, the weather, the music…so amazing!  Just after “Po’s” the band took things in a happy, reggae-feeling, groovy direction with “A Smile”, JP on lead vocals bringing this joyful vibe to one and all.  The band matched his tone, keeping things light and bouncy.  Perfect music for dancing, which is precisely what every person there was doing.  We couldn’t help it!  Not sure I’d ever actually heard this one live before.  A new favorite, absolutely.  Thanks for that, fellas!  Finally, it was time to close things down for this sweet, sweet set.  The choice?  Why, “Susquehanna Breakdown”, of course!  And the apropos closer I would have to say, friends.  Quick, fun dance music, this instrumental featured every member of the band in some form or fashion before things were all done.  JP’s mando solo melted so many faces medics had to be called in.  That’s only before Kopec melted all the remainder with his sizzling fiddle stylings.  Crazy good!!  But do you think that Pappy or Mickey would be outdone?  Not whatsoever.  Banjo and guitar going nuts respectively, so many notes coming out of that stage.  It was almost too much.  But not quite, if you know what I mean.  What a marvelous set, everyone!  It really felt like WinterWonderGrass now, now that I’d stood out under the winter weather and seen some hot, hot grass music.  Yeah, I was back.  And how phenomenal it was so far!  A huge thanks to Cabinet for making the trip to Colorado and for bringing the noise.  Cheers!!

Cabinet

Cabinet

    Dropping back to the Soapbox Stage after Cabinet, it was time for some home-grown, Colorado gypsy grass with Nederland’s own Gipsy Moon.  If your eyes and ears aren’t on this band yet, then you might want to lend a couple of each to the cause.  Interesting and unorthodox instrumentation, fantastic song-writing, phenomenal musicianship and singing…all these things characterize GM but they are so much more as well.  I’ve had my eye on this group for awhile now and I have witnessed nothing but wonderful things and a meteoric rise towards success.  I was definitely excited to have them at WWG this year and proud of them for snagging three sets throughout the weekend, this Soapbox set being their second following another performance the day before.  We spent the first few songs up front in the crowded tent until it just got too warm and we needed to fade to the back…but the place was packed.  Good for Gipsy Moon!  And as well they deserve it.  The band took the stage and quickly got things going with “Right Kind of Crazy”, Mackenzie Page at the vocal helm as always, her unique and delightful voice crooning out into the crowd.  Matt Cantor, on bass and vocal harmonies, stood like a mighty tree, instrument in hand to her left, Andrew Conley on cello to Matt’s left.  Omar Mansour was arranged in the rear of the group this time, his fantastic drumming chops such a wonderful addition to the already singular and fabulous sound of this band.  That percussion brings such a lovely drive and added emotion to each and every piece.  It’s always so magical to watch a new recruit jive so very well with an ensemble to the point of making it that much better as a result.  Loving it!  I really like Andrew’s lines at various points in this one…they provide so much movement and character.  Of course, so much of that has to do with the timbre of his chosen instrument.  In a genre heavily populated by fiddles, it takes guts to don a cello and rock it the way Conley does.  And does he ever rock it!  Some of his solos are face melters to be sure.  What a start to what would be a marvelous set!  Silas Herman wrote the second number they played that evening, a lively tune with a lovely mandolin and cello intro called “Daybreak”.  The duet that Andrew and Silas play throughout most of the song, the melody, is just breathtakingly pretty.  And Mr. Herman definitely lets loose on that mando of his, killing it with note after amazing note.  A happy tune, a dancing tune, a tune full of joy and merriment.  But, isn’t that Silas in a nutshell?  I just love it when an instrumental takes me somewhere…someplace as I have my eyes closed…a place far away and magical…a place of pure music.  That’s precisely what this WWG version of “Daybreak” did for me that Friday.  Lovely playing, just gorgeous.  Especially Andrew and Silas.  Thank you fellas immensely!!  Next up, they played their song “Skeleton” which we were able to capture on video for you!  Please enjoy this bit of the Soapbox Stage experience at WinterWonderGrass!! 

I mean, how can you not just love this band?  And see how packed the place was?  Not bad, right?  Then, talk about being whisked away somewhere…!!  The Greek song “Misrilou” always seems to do that to me.  Between the gypsy sounds of the band and Mackenzie’s mesmerizing and exotic vocals, I felt again transported by this song to a distant land filled with bazaars and spices and interesting foreign languages.  Man, do I love this band…have I said that already?  Omar was the man in this one, too!  Why?  Well, he kicked things into super double overdrive at one point pounding away like an ecstatic beast on his drums and whipping the band into a magical frenzy.  What a ride!  Holy goodness!  I mean it!  Wow.  Had to sit down after that one.  Finally, the band closed down their short set with “Gin”, an old and great standard from Gipsy Moon’s catalogue.  The slow and mellow opening most certainly belies the party flavor of this song once it gets going properly.  An anthem to drinking the finer things in life, this one never fails to satisfy a music-loving crowd.  Excellent work from everyone in the band forming some really fine ensemble sound.  Silas had his own moments to shine to be sure as did Andrew and Omar, but always seeming in seamless support of Mackenzie’s dulcet vocal lines.  And then, sadly, it was over.  Another fantastic set from this fantastic band.  Really make time to see them if you haven’t — time spent with Gipsy Moon is so very worth it.  So much thanks and love going out to the band from this journalist.  You guys are phenomenal and we thank you for it!!

Gipsy Moon

Gipsy Moon

    And then, just a little farther into the cold Colorado night, it was time for some red hot vibes from everyone’s favorite polyethnic cajun slamgrass band, Leftover Salmon!  What would a festival like WWG be without Salmon?  I’m not sure I want to find out.  But, luckily, for us that night we didn’t have to because LoS brought some serious intensity to the main stage.  Opening things up with a fantastic WinterWonderGrass version of “Lonesome Weary Ramblin’ Highway Man” the band showed from the first instant that they meant some serious musical business that night.  Lucky for us in the crowd, no?  And, lucky for you, we just happened to nab this opener on video for your viewing delight!  Please take a gander and enjoy, friends! 

And, just like that, bang!  We were off!  What a great way to start a show!  Further into the set, the band brought a little sunshine to the chilly WWG stage with “The Sun Dog” with a blazing hot intro from Andy Thorn that bled right into the tune proper.  This was a new instrumental to me and I really got into it — excellent for dancing, no doubt.  So many notes from that Thorn character, too.  Just so many.  That is, until Drew Emmitt got ahold of things on his mando offering a sortie of countless tones of his own.  “And Vince Herman?” you ask.  Well, he was busy shredding things up complete on guitar in that classic Vince style.  Man, do these fellas know their way around a fret board!  So much respect for the musical acumen of this super fun band of delightful crazies.  Talk about not feeling the cold anymore!  My blood was on the rise from all the blazing hot music coming from the stage.  It felt fantastic, my friends!  A little bit later on came an LoS classic:  “Down in the Hollow”.  Drew was up to the mic for lead vocals on this one, the man ready to croon his heart out as always for the adoring audience.  And did he ever!  Vince threw down a tasty solo a short ways into the song, pushing the whole thing ever onwards at full speed ahead, the steamboat that is Leftover Salmon chugging merrily along.  Erik Deutsch brought out some nasty good work of his own on the keys giving us a super sweet melody run jammed out as only this talented man can.  This was, in a nutshell, quite the musical rush.  And what a set so far.  But wait, there’s more!  Like the “New Speedway Boogie” that happened next for instance.  Yes, you read that correctly.  With a super bluesy opening, this one took form and we all recognized just how lucky we all were in that moment.  Vince laid down the lyrics like a champion bard doing this one a service for one and all there that evening.  Alwyn Robinson brought some funky goodness on the drums making this one pop out into the cold evening air.  Greg Garrison and Deutsch also shared a little funk of their own, bass and keys shining out respectively.  Holy Dead, Batman!  How good was this??  They took “Speedway” directly into “Powder Day” and Andy Thorn jumped up to the mic for this apropos song for the snowy setting.  And, from all the reports from those who had ventured up the mountain that Friday, it had been a great “powder day” for one and all.  As it should be, right?  Fresh pow pow on the mou mou, brah?  Bingo.  Drew had pulled out this flying-v electric he’d been playing all night with a look towards getting down — and get down with it he did, my friends.  Andy killed the lyrics, clearly singing about something he knows well.  He does live in Colorado after all.  Pretty incredible banjo solo from that same man as well a couple of minutes in.  A mighty fine selection for this WinterWonderGrass.  Great job, fellas!  The whole thing wound down with a jumping version of “Get No Better”, Dave Bruzza of Greensky Bluegrass joining them on stage for a bit of the fun.  Vince was the lead man on this one, although Bruzza jumped up to duet with him pretty soon in.  The ensemble sound of the band was on point throughout this one, a magic wall of slamgrass sound sweetly serenading all of us, filling our hearts with joy and merriment enough to make it to and through the impending late night after the show.  And what a show it had been, thanks to the gents of Leftover Salmon!  So many huge thanks going out to the band and their folks for helping to make Friday night at WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 so special.  Always an amazing time with this band and this night had been no exception.  Certainly made me hungry for more incredible grass music all weekend long at WWG.  Thank you, Salmon!  Thank you a million times over for what you do!

Leftover Salmon

Leftover Salmon

And, Saturday?  On its way, friends!!

 

 

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Deep Roots Mountain Revival 2016 - Friday

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Deep Roots Mountain Revival 2016 - Friday

DEEP ROOTS MOUNTAIN REVIVAL 2016

Marvin’s Mountaintop, WV

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Bill Rudd

Friday Highlights

    We awoke Friday morning to a gorgeous late summer day, the sky bright blue and the sun so warm that tents were uninhabitable shortly after 9AM. It was a welcome wake up call as we looked forward to the 10 world class acts scheduled to take the dual main stages of Deep Roots Mountain Revival. The massive festival stages were set up side by side, similar to the All Good days, in the corner of an expansive grass field facing a long sloping hillside that provided an abundance of additional viewing angles. A collection of vendors were set up along the entrance to the meadow, with Steal Your Plate, Shady Grove Wraps and several other tasty dining options to the right and about a dozen of the funkiest festival clothing and craft booths situated to the left. Things got started on Stage B around noon with Matt Mullins & The Bringdowns, West Virginian rockers who literally blend alternative and country to create hard edged twangy tones that filled the lawn and hillside. As we approached to investigate further it became immediately apparent that there was almost no one in attendance for the early afternoon’s first set, with only about 20 people who had mostly gathered near the shade of the soundboard’s canopy. Truth be told we must have been late arrivals ourselves because the set quickly came to its conclusion with an Uncle Tupelo cover, but not before we enjoyed a brief moment to bang our heads and stomp our feet simultaneously. Music was officially back in the heart of Marvin’s Mountain Top! 

Matt Mullins & The Bringdowns

Matt Mullins & The Bringdowns

    Megan Jean & The KFB were set up to the left on Stage A and after the previous night’s Roots Stage set we were extremely excited to hear Megan’s bold voice booming through the festival’s biggest speakers. Our high expectations were confirmed when “Playground Queen” began blasting across the mountaintop at a thunderous volume, sure to reach those just arriving, or yet to break camp for the day. Despite their loud volume the KFB specializes in stripped down tales of twisted knives and voodoo that rely on the rhythm of the duo to make you involuntarily dance to the madness. It was a little out of place to hear such dark imagery sung on a crystal clear sunny day surrounded by rolling green mountains. The next song, however, provided particularly poignant lyrics given the sparse crowd circumstances so far “Foxes in the hen house. Ain't it a shame nobody's home.” Indeed it was a shame that more people hadn’t made it to the festival in time to experience the pair of honest and energetic performances put on by Megan Jean and the Klay Family Band. 

    Up next were the rowdy Ohioans knows as The Rumpke Mountain Boys and they were more than ready to entertain the several dozen Mountain Revivalists that had assembled for their 2PM set. The four piece has evolved over the years, refining their brash style of bluegrass as they’ve crisscrossed the country honing their craft. After our back road journey to the mountaintop their lyrics “99 roads to travel but I'll get there someday” were felt wholeheartedly by the audience. Guitarist Adam Copeland sang “Fourdinaire” a descriptive story about their preferred partying lifestyle that can be found on their latest album High Time, Low Tide. They followed up with another song that couldn’t have been more apropos, calling out the “West Virginia Appalachian Mountains that I love.” Speaking of shout-outs it was nice to hear the Boys reference another former All Good location, the Sunshine Daydream Memorial Park in nearby Terra Alta, WV, a venue that helped the band build a tremendous fanbase among the region’s festival community. Mandolin player Ben Gourley switched to a similarly strung tenor guitar for a trashgrass take on the Grateful Dead’s “Althea” which signified a theme that would carry throughout the festival, with many more band members switching instruments and plenty of Dead covers to come. While the Rumpke Mountain Boys wrapped up their Friday set with a tune glorifying life in the medicine show we decided to mosey on back to camp to get prepped for the rest of the day’s music.  

The Rumpke Mountain Boys

The Rumpke Mountain Boys

    We hurried on back to Main Stage A where The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers were locked and loaded and off with a bang, breaking out the roaring instrumental “Old Joe Clark” which unleashed the picking prowess of every member of the five piece. Five piece? Yep, you read that right. The Stragglers had gained a member overnight with the addition of PA’s Fiddlin’ Ray Bruckman who was joining the band on mandolin. Guitarist Gary Antol sang lead on an original swing tune called “Get Along Gone” before JFS took things up another notch with a blistering version of Flatt & Scruggs’ instrumental “Lonesome Road Blues” anchored by expert banjoist Joe Dep. They drove that one directly into their outstanding original tune “Checkmate” for a fantastic combination of old and newgrass. But don’t take my word for it, check it out for yourself!

 Awesome right? The talented Libby Eddy was back singing lead on a pair of covers, first the appropriate “High On A Mountain” written by Ola Belle Reed, and then the Peter Rowan penned “Thirsty in the Rain,” a song that fits her beautiful voice so brilliantly the band recorded it on their latest album White Lightning Road. Newcomer to the Stragglers and former Brummy Brothers bassist Dave Brumberg stepped up to the mic for “Joy Bells Ringing” a traditional bluegrass number that suited his voice nicely and showed off his bass abilities a bit too. The band’s original instrumental “Red Prairie Dawn” was next with some exceptional fiddle work from Libby which they followed with “White Lightning Road” about the time honored tradition of bootlegging moonshine. The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers finished up with “I Know You Rider,” a traditional tune made famous by the likes of The Grateful Dead and Seldom Scene, that’s become a festival staple and thus a fitting choice to close out a their second stellar Mountain Revival set. Well done!

The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers

The Jakob's Ferry Stragglers

    After perusing the food options some more and refilling our beverages (gotta stay hydrated out there folks) we made our way back to Stage B where we expected to find Shooter Jennings. What we found instead were Waymore’s Outlaws without Shooter, and they were playing his father Waylon’s classic “Good Hearted Woman” as a tribute to their former bandleader. They followed that with... a set break? Really. A fifteen minute set break amidst an hour and fifteen minute set. Interesting time management to say the least. Our patience was rewarded when Shooter finally took the stage, solo at first with an acoustic guitar in his arms as he stood behind an electric keyboard. He wailed a country ballad first, strumming the guitar while letting his powerful voice command the audience which was still no more than a couple hundred folks at most. Shooter switched over to the keys and demonstrated his instrumental ability with a haunting composition that built around an extended intro before segueing into his hit “All Of This Could Have Been Yours,” which was gained popularity thanks to its appearance on the television show Sons of Anarchy. The Outlaws returned to supply backup to Shooter as the group finished out the set with a heavy dose of the hard hitting country rock that they’re known for. 

Waymore's Outlaws

Waymore's Outlaws

    The country vibe increased considerably when Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives took the to the A Stage in all their sequined glory. This is a real deal country western rock and roll band, complete with coordinated outfits and the twang to match. They proved it further with their spot on take of the genre’s standard bearer “Country Boy Rock & Roll,” which proved they meant business with speed and precision in addition to excellent harmonies. Next was another appearance of the infamous “I Know You Rider,” a song that some might consider too popular for its own good. This was the third or fourth time it had been played at the Mountain Revival (Looking at you Jakob’s Ferry). They followed that with Marty’s original "The Whiskey Ain't Workin'," a hit as a duet with Travis Tritt in the 90s and still a hit with the fans in the field on Friday. It was extremely interesting to watch the composition of the crowd change with each band. Older folks with tucked in Harley t-shirts sat in folding chairs where tie-died and dreadlocked people had been swaying to Rumpke Mountain Boys a few hours prior. No stranger to the spotlight Marty lead His Fabulous Superlatives with an epic “House of the Rising Sun” as the setting sun began to sink over the West Virginia mountains, ending another marvelous set of music.

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives

    It was time for a diversion from the Main Stages as Grand Ole’ Ditch was set to perform on the VIP Stage, which was under a medium sized tent and separated from the common festival folk in a forested grove atop a nearby hill. The 7 member progressive bluegrass collective from Cumberland, MD, had ingeniously managed to have about a dozen of their friends and fans shuttled up to the secluded venue, by allowing their friend (me) to commandeer the band’s very own van. Talk about going the extra mile to get good folks in front of your music! And what great music it was, as Ditch started the intimate performance with a rocking rendition of banjoist Craig Miller’s “Take Me Back” which they followed with the breakneck instrumental “Chester's Breakdown.” The band kept the original tunes coming with their recent release’s relatable title track “Unwind,” that featured an extended intro before merging immediately into “Whippoorwill,” as smoothly as it does on the album. Jody Mosser mainly plays dobro with Grand Ole’ Ditch but switched to his Martin D-28 guitar for an extended solo that lead to his lovely instrumental “Pickin’ For Breakfast.” 

    A fantastic aspect of the VIP stage is its close proximity to the Main Stages, complete with a handy wooden deck which allows you to look overlook them without leaving the hilltop. We took full advantage of the perch to catch a couple songs from Fruition who had already begun rocking on Stage B. The Portland based folk rock band performed “I Can't Stop,” a rootsy song sung by guitarist Jay Cobb Anderson. Mandolinist Mimi Naja was up next singing “The Wanter,” a really fun tune with a bluegrass bounce about someone with a phobia of wedding rings. The last song we caught from high above the main field was the appropriately titled, “Above the Line” off their recently released Labor of Love record which features the fancy drum work of Tyler Thompson and the vocals of guitarist Kellen Asebroek. We rambled back over to the Grand Ole’ Ditch set in VIP just in time to hear Fiddlin’ Ray Bruckman, fresh off of mandolin duty with Jakob’s Ferry, shredding some bowstrings on his incendiary instrumental “Dragon's Breath.” Up next was “Dark Rider” an original that recently made its way back into the band’s rotation and nicely summed up the experience we felt approaching the festival grounds. “Gaze upon the mountain, leave it all behind. Lay my tracks on down the road for someone else to find.” The band wasn’t about to leave anything behind in their allotted time, finishing the set with a raucous reggae-fied version of The Dillard’s “Old Man at the Mill” that’s become a favorite among Ditch diggers, in this instance requested by Libby of The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers. Musicians appreciating and interacting with other musicians was a special part of the Deep Roots experience and something we would see much more of over the course of the weekend.

Fruition

Fruition

   After an extended rest and recovery period back at camp we prepared ourselves for the impending session of world class jamgrass with Cabinet and Greensky Bluegrass scheduled back to back on the Main Stages. As we approached the infield to take our places up front we found the pop country act Love and Theft performing on Stage A with a straightforward cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’” that a friend likened to a couple’s skate. They closed their set with a song about their fondness for Jesus and then it was finally time to get high on Pennsylvania bluegrass. Cabinet didn’t waste any time riling up the several hundred strong crowd with a fiery “Hit It On The Head” followed with a spectacular “Celebration” featuring Pappy Biondo on lead vocals in addition to the custom Circle Strings electric banjo he’s been playing predominantly as of late. His cousin, mandolinist JP Biondo took a turn singing lead on the long adored Cabinet classic, “The Tower” before the band transitioned to the cowboy anthem “Diamond Joe” which included some significant shredding from Mickey Coviello’s electric guitar. The fluidity with which the boys swap out instruments is always amazing, with Pappy switching back to his traditional Nechville banjo mid-song and especially impressive when Dylan Skursky’s bass changes from electric to upright without the band missing a beat. The spacey instrumental “Mysterio” was next and gave the dual drummers Jami Novak and Josh Karis a chance to show off their syncopation as well as some supplemental percussion that really adds to the breakdowns. Hot, hot, fire from all 6 of the band members there. "Watch out folks we're comin' atcha," exclaimed Pappy in his distinct drawl. JP was back lending his voice to “Treat Me So Bad,” which was a swingy palate cleanser before things got much heavier with the dramatic “Any Old Sign” which fell to “the Todd side” with a howling fiddle solo from Todd Kopec. The fellas really let loose after that with a wild and wonderful “Arco Arena,” which is derived from a snippet of a Cake song that they extrapolate expertly and often, this time with an added segment of “Shady Grove” to conclude what was already a monumental jam. And it didn’t end there — the band dedicated their rapid bluegrassy instrumental “Po's Reel” to a birthday girl named Candace and a couple called the Koons who were celebrating their 17th anniversary on the mountaintop. Interestingly it was the drummers who stood out on the song, demonstrating how a few well-timed symbol strikes can add gravitas to a bluegrass tune in a way that no mandolin can. The song’s usual “It Ain’t Me” tease was extended into a full on “Under the Sea” segment for all the Little Mermaid heads in attendance, before the band dove back in and finished the explosive mando lead reel. The grand finale was yet another extended jam that included a short diversion into “Shine Like the Sun” where it seriously seemed as if Pappy was communicating with both drummers solely via his eyes and electric banjo. For good measure they tacked on a hint of “Fire on the Mountain” to the outro, which made perfect sense because Cabinet had just set Marvin’s Mountain Top ablaze with a fire breathing monster of a set. Bravo boys, bravo! 

Cabinet

Cabinet

    That might have been a tough act to follow but if anyone’s up to the challenge it most certainly was Greensky Bluegrass. The Michigan powerhouse quintet opened the proceedings with a funky “Jaywalking” through thick billowing fog that engulfed the stage. Guitarist Dave Bruzza stepped through the mist and up to the mic for “Somebody To Lean On” in his unmistakable raspy tone. The crowd had swelled significantly by this point, with the flat part of the field mostly full, however it was still one of the most intimate Greensky festival performances you’re ever likely to find. Mandolinist Paul Hoffman, or phoffman as the kids call him, was back singling lead, dropping f-bombs and jaws with an emphatic “Windshield,” the emotion drenched ballad from their previous release If Sorrows Swim. With a full harvest moon overhead and stage lights eerily illuminating the smoke that persisted through the set, it seemed almost as if Paul was the mythical wolfman, leading his pack with an intense outcry of emotion. The track that contains their last album’s title line “Burn Them” was next, with it’s fast pace punctuated by Anders Beck’s dobro, which picked the party back up into a frenzy. Greensky won the competition for first Main Stage band to call the state by its unofficial title, “West, by God, Virginia,” a prestigious distinction to be sure. Bruzza was back singing “Doin’ My Time,” a number brought to bluegrass by Flatt & Scruggs and turned into a gravelly jamgrass interlude by Greensky. The boys took things to The Dark Side of the Moon with their awesome interpretation of “Time > Breath,” the legendary Pink Floyd piece that’s been a staple of GSBG sets for almost a decade. The evening’s festivities reached a grandiose pinnacle with an elongated exploratory “Don't Lie” that at times resonated across Marvin’s Mountain Top like a herd of bison stampeding across the plains. Back at the comfort of camp it seemed as if the echoes continued to reverberate for hours, though that was likely just BIG Something or Pigeons Playing Ping Pong crushing it late into the night on the Roots Stage. Without a doubt the Deep Roots team made sure that there was certainly no shortage of incredible music on Friday, with many more amazing Mountain Revival moments yet to come.

Greensky Bluegrass

Greensky Bluegrass

Saturday's review and photos coming soon, friends!!

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Sunday

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Sunday

DelFest 9

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Sunday Highlights

Grand Ole’ Ditch

    It’s a good thing that Sunday is truly Funday, isn’t it?  I mean, by that point in a festival even the hardiest of us is beginning to feel the effects.  But, with the prospect of incredible music to motivate us, we pulled ourselves up, slugged some liquid caffeine, grabbed our gear and happily got right back to it!  Our first music of the day was at the Potomac Stage with Cumberland’s own and our buddies, Grand Ole’ Ditch.  So far it was a nice, mild day and great festival weather, the clouds providing a bit of reprieve from the warm sun.  The perfect climate for dancing to some awesome string band tunes.  “Allegheny Sun” was Ditch’s opener for the morning, the band choosing to launch into a sprightly song to kick things into gear for us and to help shake the cobwebs out of the old brain bucket.  The monster instrumental in the center of this one was a fun ride through some masterful music-making.  Craig Miller on banjo, “Fiddlin’ Ray” Bruckman on fiddle, both throwing down some nasty licks filling out this jam to the brim.  And then you hear Jacob Mathews’s bass coming through like a semi-truck of sound, popping out of the texture in a fantastic way only to be reabsorbed back into the mix, ever the foundation of the band’s harmonic fabric.  Jody Mosser accredited himself very well on the lead vocals in “Allegheny”, just one of the gents in the band who is featured as a singer.  That’s a great reason to love Ditch:  that special “many bands in one” quality that some bands manage to accomplish through having many “lead singers” belting out all different kinds of songs.  It can really add to a band’s breadth and depth.  Craig stepped up to the mic for the next number, “Take Me Back” from their Big Red Ball album, sounding fantastic on this Sunday morning.  He surely sounded better than I did at the time.  Haha.  There was some excellent fiddle work from Ray in this version of “Take Me Back” pretty early on which was, in turn, complemented by Miller’s banjo stylings a bit further into things.  I was loving the vocal harmonies in this one, too.  There’s quite a few members of Grand Ole’ Ditch and, as such, you get the opportunity for some pretty big vocal texture which is supremely satisfying to the musical palate.  Their next tune they dedicated to Craig’s son, which is always nice thing to see.  Family, right?  Precisely.  Lots of great Jody dobro going on throughout in this instrumental.  My goodness do I love the timbre of that instrument — the sound is just so entrancing.  Especially in the hands of an expert player like Mosser.  Pappy Biondo, Joe Dep, and Brittany Haas then joined the Ditch boys on stage for a rollicking good time in the form of “Mama Don’t Allow No Music”, a rowdy Jody-led piece.  And, it just so happens we have a nice, big clip of the whole thing to show you right here: 

Now wasn’t that just a kick in the pants?  Super fun times with super great musicians.  That’s pretty much DelFest in a nutshell.  Then it was time for some music from their new album, Unwind:  “Copper Coal Kettle” is a gritty, dirty, but oh-so-good trip through some western Maryland newgrass.  Craig was back on the vocals for this one leading the band through the wide and varied musical landscape to include the super Pink Floyd-feeling mellow middle breakdown that picks up into a more of a party tempo at a moment’s notice thanks to the deft drumming of Todd Hocherl.  Later on down the set we were treated to more of the new album with the title track, “Unwind”, a speedy and catchy ditty to be sure.  One that will find its way into your mind often.  It certainly whipped the crowd into a joyous frenzy well enough:  lots of dancing.  Lots.  The gents all sounded fantastic on their respective instruments, too, trading solo parts back and forth so adeptly.  They took “Unwind” directly into a personal favorite of mine, “Pigeon Eatin’ Catfish”, another fast-paced, energetic romp and stomp of bluegrass enjoyment led by Miller on the vocals.  This one gave the boys each an opportunity to rock it out on their chosen instruments, like Lucas Mathews’s phatty solo on mandolin counterpointing all of Jody’s crazy amazing dobro goodness.  Another incredibly fun ride at the hands of Grand Ole’ Ditch.  What a Sunday morning show!!  Wowsers.  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Ray and his fiddle in this one as well — so very good.  There is no doubt that man earned his nickname very honestly.  Jody’s dobro provided the sweet lead in for the next number to which Ryan Hohing’s guitar answered, firing up this instrumental as each member came in one by one.  I hadn’t heard this one before and didn’t catch its name, sadly, because I was really into its mellow groove.  Some tunes are just super pleasant, right?  More lovely mando work from Luke stood out for me here, only to be answered by Craig’s banjo and Ray’s fiddle.  Really dug that little tune.  Finally, a bit later on, they closed down their set with a speedy version of Jerry Garcia’s “Shady Grove” which turned into a giant dance-fest out in the crowd.  We were eating it up, too…like a pigeon eatin’ catfish.  A supremely fine way to finish up another DelFest show for these hometown heroes.  An encore opportunity saw the band play “Blue Light” which was pure bluegrass right up to the last note.  And it was yet one more fast dancin’ song, too!  Kicking up our heels until the very end, not a bad way to start a Sunday.  So many thanks to Grand Ole’ Ditch for all the smiles and magnificent music.  Sure would love to get these fellas out to Colorado…hmmmm.  Might just have to see about that.  Cheers, boys!!

Grand Ole' Ditch and Friends

Grand Ole' Ditch and Friends

Cabinet

    Main stage time with Pennsylvania’s Cabinet.  How lucky was that?  From the first time I saw these gentlemen (at DelFest, no less), I was hooked on their particular style of string band badassery.  High energy?  Damn straight.  Great songwriting?  Damn skippy.  Olympic-level musicianship?  Damn right.  There are so many reasons to love this band, I could write the entire remainder of the review on just that.  But, I bet you’d like to read a bit about their music now, wouldn’t you?  So would I!  Let’s do that!  They took a groovy, mellow approach to the intro of their first song, beguiling all of us and bringing us further in before letting loose with “Hit It on the Head” in full force, guitars blazing and fiddle wailing away, banjo on the merry bandwagon, too.  Boom!  And we were all hit on the head with some Cabinet.  Todd Kopec’s familiar fiddling was ever-present throughout, sewing this song together like a musical needle and thread, shred and thread.  So much of that tasty good up energy that you can expect so very much of from this band.  They took this directly into “Celebration” with Pappy Biondo at the helm for the lead vocals.  His cousin, J.P. Biondo was dominating the mando as usual, working that wee fretboard like the pro that he is.  Pappy threw down some of his unique banjosity for us, too, rounding out that comprehensive ensemble sound that is Cabinet.  Great message to this song, as well…we really do need to love one another.  Like sisters and brothers.  Music like this never lies.  A little later in the set, the band introduced Josh Karis, their new drummer, to the crowd during the soft and intense building intro to “Caroline”.  Of course, we all applauded and cheered and made the newest member of the Cabinet family feel welcome.  And then “Caroline” built and built and built based on the singing of the band and the crowd (as encouraged) as well as the energy of the percussion section, Karis and Jami Novak.  They traded the mellower feeling for a bounce back up to the rafters once more with “Shined Like the Sun” which they went directly into through a big, bold jam.  What a roller coaster ride!!  So much good music coming out of those speakers at us.  Pappy was back up to the mic for “Shined”, crooning to us in that signature voice of his.  Really dug Dylan Skursky’s bass line in this one — it stuck out for me in a positive way, driving the song forward and dovetailing into the drums doing the same.  Not always easy to get all the bass you might want in a big band…no complaints though.  Nothing like the musical texture of a band like Cabinet.  Todd also nailed down a serious fiddle solo about hallway through only to hand things off to Mickey Coviello on electric guitar for a mighty fine solo of his own then only to give the reigns back to Kopec and then back to Mickey once more.  Damn.  Incredible work gents.  Super fun musical moments.  Later still in their set, J.P. stepped up to the mic to take lead vocals on “Bottom of the Sea” which we have for you now, good people: 

Pretty wonderful music, right friends?  I mean, you can see this band’s huge appeal, right?  Just wait until you see them live if you haven’t already.  Further on down the line came the rip-roaring thrill-a-minute known as “Susquehanna Breakdown”, an instrumental of enjoyably monstrous proportions.  Lots and lots of wicked good soloing on all instruments, from mando to banjo to guitar to fiddle and back again and again.  Holy schneikies!  So very good!  And, just like, that…BANG!! The song was over and we were all reeling from the shockwave of awesome.  The boys in the band invited their friend Sierra Hull out to play with them on the next song, “99 Years (And One Dark Day)”, Cabinet’s premier prison song.  That was something I felt was even more in abundance this year at DelFest:  guesting in.   There just seemed to be that much more it going on which was wonderful.  Mickey had a supremely good guitar solo in “99 Years”, in addition to Sierra’s amazing work, herself.  That lady is such a superb player and such a great guest to have sit in.  Brava!  “Cut Down Tree” served as the closer for this huge main stage set from Cabinet.  Pappy was back at the mic for another solo and took us deftly to the end of the show.  All the gents took their chance at another soloing go round pretty much all song long, instruments shining as their notes rang out in unison or harmonies with their fellows.  And when things kicked double time for the breakdown?  Forget about it.  Just ridiculous.  And a favorite of the crowd unless my eyes deceived me…some seriously crazy dancing going on out there in front of the stage.  Huge ending had us all cheering for more.  What a show from these boys from Pennsylvania!  A big time thanks to them and all their people for making it to DelFest this year and adding their own brand of everything amazing to the mix.  Cheers, fellas!!  

Cabinet

Cabinet

The Del McCoury Band

    Sunday evening and so it was that we all got another go round with Del McCoury and his magnificent band.  Gathered in front of the DF main stage, we all readied ourselves for another exquisite set of classic bluegrass and audience favorites.  And, of course, to hear our dear Pappy Del sing to us once more.  As the gents took the stage in their best dress, we wondered at what precisely might be in store for us this eve.  They certainly didn’t waste any time getting things going with “Loneliness and Desperation”, Rob McCoury leading everything off with his almighty banjo.  Jason Carter’s fiddle shone throughout the song as well, providing a fitting complement to Del’s quintessential bluegrass voice.  Not to be outdone by his brother or Jason, Ronnie McCoury delivered a might mandolin solo to the delight of the crowd…almost as much delight as when Del hit those hight notes.  Talk about a way to make a Del audience smile ear to ear and give a hoot and holler, too.  High notes.  Yes, please.  “She’s Left Me Again” was their second song of the evening, a sad tale meted out in very incredible three-part harmony between Del, Jason, and Ronnie.  Just fabulous through and through.  One of the many, many reasons I love bluegrass music so much is that very thing:  incredible harmonies.  And Del rooting things down on guitar alongside Alan Bartram on bass, classic bluegrass style.  Boy does their music certainly evoke strong feelings in a person, transporting her/him to far off places and back again.  Truly delightful.  Ronnie was up to the mic to lead things in the direction of “Thanks A Lot”, a personal favorite of mine and of much of the audience, apparently.  Great minds think alike, right?  Some supremely fine fiddle coming down from Carter’s neck of the stage during this song answered by Ronnie’s own getting down on mando.  Quite seriously, these have to be some of the very best musicians in the genre.  Hell, in many genres for that matter.  Good times and very happy with the show thus far!  A little later down the set, Del took the lead again for “Same Kind of Crazy”, a song about finding just that perfect mirrored freak in your intended counterpart.  Love at first madness, maybe?  Or maybe just shared madness.  Del certainly had his own feelings on the issue to be sure.  Great back and forth between everyone in the band during the breakdowns between the verses — really exceptional music.  Next up was a wicked fast fiddle tune led by Jason but featuring every single man’s fingers flying over fretboard of his chosen instrument.  I missed the name of the tune but I didn’t miss a note of that freight train barreling towards us all at a ludicrous speed (any Spaceballs fans out there?) colliding with our consciousness and inspiring smile after smile after smile.  So freakin’ fast they play.  So fast!  Superheroes dwell among us my friends…know them by the musical demigod aura they most assuredly emanate.  And Del and band might have just as well been the musical Avengers.  Alan Bartram was up the microphone for lead vocals on the next song, a slower number called the “Kentucky Waltz”.  And, it just so happens that we recorded the entire thing just for you, friend!!  How lucky, right? 

My gosh does that bass playin’ man have some seriously awesome vocal cords!  I do so love it when he sings us one.  Then came one of those crowd pleasers I was talking about:  “Henry Walker”.  Del at the helm, he sang us through this dark tale with grace and style, his band of merry music makers in full support.  A little further down the set, Woody Guthrie’s grandson came out to play dobro with them for the next number, Guthrie’s own “Californy Gold”.  Carter was on point with his fiddle providing some lovely color to the song, notes floating over and around the lyrics sung by Del.  Nothing like getting to hear a little dobro alongside Del Band, right?  Maybe they’ll hire a full-time dobro player…a boy can dream, can’t he?  Speaking of dobro, Woody’s grandson certainly knew his way around the instrument, laying down a mean solo for us a few minutes in.  Further on into the set, Ronnie’s son, Evan, joined in on guitar for some of the fun as well as Conner Broome on the keys.  Del crooned out the lyrics to this one for us, teaching us all about coming to terms with life’s sad state of affairs when it comes to love.  Or lack thereof.  “Learnin’ the Blues” is a, ahem, blueprint for doing just such a thing.  Loved the interplay between Jason and Rob on this one, fiddle and banjo shining out respectively.  Conner nailed his keyboard solo to the ground, it certainly must be said.  That young man has a very bright musical future, indeed.  A bit later still “Black Jack County Chains” was on the docket for us, Del at the mic to give us more of what we all wanted, what we all came for.  “Feel it in your bones” bluegrass.  Ah, so nice.  And such a robust set chock full of it, too.  You always get so much from a Del Band show, quality, quantity, you name it.  Close on “Black Jack’s” heels came the bullet train experience that is “All Aboard”, Evan McCoury still on stage playing guitar alongside these greats and more than holding his own.  Always and forever the crowd pleaser, this one didn’t disappoint that night in Cumberland, you can count on that.  The band’s instruments rang out measure after measure constantly building and rebuilding the texture as the song hurtled along at Del speed.  (Which is a mightily speedy speed at that!)  I have distinct and pleasant memories of Ronnie’s mandolin that keep coming back to me when I think about this song.  What a way to close out a show!!  Then, after a short time offstage, the band returned and Vassar McCoury, Rob’s young son, joined in for the first encore alongside his cousin, Evan…and which song?  Why “Cold Rain and Snow”, of course.  There were quite the number of voices singing along with Del to this one.  I can’t imagine why.  Jason showed us all how it’s done a number of times taking up the melody line on his fiddle and killing it.  And I’ll always love hearing Del play guitar, hearing him lead those chords, picking away.  And, boy, does that gentleman sure look stately when holding that six-string.  After “Cold Rain and Snow” they launched into a big, fun version of “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” which was followed by the “Whitehouse Blues”.  So it was to be hard drivin’, fast pickin’ until the very end, huh?  Well, alrighty then, if we must, we must.  And we did.  Lightning quick work all around from every man, Rob and Ronnie hot on their instruments, Jason and Alan working the same and then Del, of course, rhythm guitar to the core.  One helluva big encore ender for a big, big show.  And the screams from the crowd — deafening in such an awesome way.  Del and his band had done it once again.  They had performed the magic spells and created that cosmic awesomeness once more that is their fabulous music.  And I was so grateful to have heard it all.  So grateful.  A massive thanks to Mr. McCoury, the members of his band, and to all those hard-working folks in Del and DelFest’s employ for such an incredible time and festival.  Cheers to one and all for making things so very special this year!!

The Del McCoury Band

The Del McCoury Band

Greensky Bluegrass

    And bringing up the closing spot on the main stage for DelFest 9, you say?  Why it just so happens that it was Greensky Bluegrass, those wild and wonderful fellows from Kalamazoo, MI.  And they helped bring the outdoor portion of DF to an end in a mighty fine fashion, playing hits and covers and all the good stuff.  Truly this band gets better and better each time I see them, a trend that has continued for many years now and doesn't seem to show any signs of slacking anytime soon.  Our boys got things going with a rousing “Jaywalking” after Joe Craven’s simply stellar introduction of the band.  It seemed a perfect beginning in the cooling night air, the stars peeking out over Cumberland.  Here is some video footage of that very song and including Joe’s intro (which you’ll dig).  Please enjoy!! 

And now you’re off to the races with us!  Not too shabby a start, no?  Let’s keep going!  A quick-paced “Burn Them” followed “Jaywalking”, Paul Hoffman back at the microphone for the lead.  Some adept work from Dave Bruzza on guitar served to color the landscape of the song as did that mando of Paul’s.  Let us not forget Anders Beck’s dobro, either.  Ever present as a part of the musical fabric or standing out to solo, that sound is unmistakable and always welcome.  “What if sorrows swim?”  Not the most attractive prospect.  Guess we’ll need to burn them, right?  A little later in the setprovided us with a lengthy and super fun “Broke Mountain Breakdown”, an instrumental of monumental proportions.  Simply astounding work all around from each member of the band.  Bruzza’s guitar singing out into the night air, Hoffman’s mando taking care of the high end of things with aplomb, Beck and his dobro.  That lovely, lovely dobro.  Made for a great combined moment when all the band stopped for a big “Del Yeah!” right in the middle of the tune.  Michael Bont’s solo a couple of minutes into the piece was nothing short of inspired.  And that’s the way things continued throughout “Broke Mountain”, with the solo passing back and forth like a jar of shine, from member to member and back again.  What a breakdown it was, too!  So much good music for 10 plus minutes.  Talk about your value, right?  That and so much more.  Hoffman even threw in some tiny “I Feel Like Bustin’ Loose” teases for good measure.  Love it!  Further still down the set we got this big version of “Demons” that went directly into Springsteen’s “Dancing in the Dark”.  “Demons” sounded fantastic, augmented in all the right ways by Paul’s baller mandolin solo not to mention his spot-on vocals.  No doubts that gentleman can sing and sing very well.  Big, meaty guitar solo from Dave in this one, too.  Really made for a robust version of the song, especially with Anders answering on so deftly on dobro.  “Dancing in the Dark” saw Hoffman channel his inner Boss while laying down some of that all-American music Springsteen is so well-known for.  It certainly was a nice treat for the crowd, lots of whom took the opportunity to sing along with Phoffman.  Good times to be sure.  Next up was the heartfelt and mellow but intense “In Control”.  Such a lovely song and so well executed at DF that night.  So much tasty, tasty dobro from Mr. Beck throughout the song…makes for such an enjoyable musical journey.  Gorgeous ensemble work here, too, giving license for the boys to do some rather pretty things over the top, like Mike’s banjo solo soaring over the remaining instrumental framework like a bird on the wing.  They took this directly into “Letter to Seymour” which followed, Dave Bruzza at the mic for lead vocals.  Hard drivin’, fast pickin’ was the name of this game, their fingers so many blurs as they screamed over the smoking fretboards assembled on stage.  Now that’s what we call good music!  Later on down the set the fellas gave us a nice long version of “Leap Year” which we ate up with glee.  Nothing like getting a long, righteous jam from these insanely skilled individuals.  Which meant lots of magnificent soloing, of course!  And thank all the music gods for that!  Bruzza was a beast on that guitar of his, moving things forward with a buoyant energy which he handed off to Hoffman, who took things and ran with them on his mando.  All this incredible only led us to some mellow stylings from your man, Mr. Beck, on that legendary dobro of his…and to a super chill central jam in the middle, Bruzza back around to dominate again.  You just get so much song when you plug into that GSBG energy.  And this continued for a lovely, lengthy 13:42.  Like I said, so much song.  Classic Phoffman at the ending part of the jam and song with some big “I Feel Like Bustin’ Loose” teases…I think we’ve all come to rely on those over the past little while with these gents.  And you never really know what the Phoff is going to do once under those colorful lights.  More classic GSBG with their chosen closer, “Atlantic City”.  Certainly one of the favorite covers songs of Greensky fans, this crowd seemed super happy to be getting this one as made apparent by their cheers and singing along.  It made for a very fitting ending to this final main stage set at DelFest 9.  The hoots and screams at the close of the song were mighty, indeed.  It was an intense and special moment.  The boys really sounded polished and professional all night long, doling out a strong setlist of super great music, great choices abounding for this DF crowd.  A giant round of applause to every member of this fantastic band!  Thank you all, as always, for what you do for you do it so very well.  Thank you for sharing your music with us!  See you in Telluride!!

Greensky Bluegrass

Greensky Bluegrass

Late Night - The Travelin’ McCoury’s featuring Keller Williams

    Keller.  The McCourys.  Together.  Live.  I almost don’t really need to write any more than that.  But I will because you need to hear at least a bit about how awesome this was.  Besides, this was the final music of DelFest 9, the last notes would be played in the Music Hall that night.  Plus, I mean:  Keller.  The McCourys!  I mean, come on.  Let’s do this, shall we?  They kicked things off with a nice, long “Port-a-potty Line” (the song, not the line), building things from a super quiet intro through more and more intensity, the tempo increasing until they all launched into the lyrics.  Funny, weird, and wonderful as always, that’s Keller’s music.  And, in the hands of the McCourys, something special, indeed.  Some really fine banjo from Mr. Rob McCoury at the behest of Keller Williams was surely welcome.  Then some of the same from Rob McCoury on mandolin.  Great energy to get all this going…lots of dancing feet, still up and running after days of the same.  I was proud of my community.  A little bit further into the set, we got a double-barreled whammy in the form of “I Am Elvis” directly into “Hot Stuff”.  Another super mellow and spacey intro began this one, like on the album but a bit grittier, minutes stretching out into note after note, the quiet intensity changing ever so slowly into more and more until the familiar strains of the song proper take hold and the lyrics begin to spin out their craziness.  Suffice it to say, this one takes you places.  And it took us that night right smack into some of Donna Summer’s “Hot Stuff”.  I’ve seen them do this song before and it’s really grown on me.  Nothing like watching a bunch of bluegrassers channel their inner disco soul diva.  These two songs did make for quite the pairing for a “to the very end” late night dance fest.  And they were just sounding so very good playing together.  I seriously urge you to see this act if it ever comes your way…you will not be disappointed.  Like we weren’t disappointed remotely with Jason Carter’s fiddle playing in this one.  Talk about your hot stuff!  They played some numbers from the Pick album they all recorded together a few years ago, too, which sure was a treat.  Like Alan Bartram up to the mic for the lead vocals on “Messed Up Just Right” a favorite song around The Lot Scene offices.  Who doesn’t love clever word play?  And really good bluegrass music.  Add those together, and you’ve got yourself a stew goin’!  Bartram knocked the lyrics out of the park, of course.  It is no secret that man sings like a champ.  Some nice moments from Ronnie and Jason, too.  An all-around excellent version of this song.  Bravi!  Then it was time to take a little walk with the Dead, “Candyman” style.  Keller was our lead man on this one, singing to a crowd who was singing along with him, the words so familiar to so many.  This is just a great song to begin with…then you add the gents on stage and some DelFest to the mix?  You had best stand back!  What a pleasantly volatile cocktail that was!!  They followed this with another great cover, Tom Petty’s “You Got Lucky Babe”, with a little bit of a vocal percussion intro from Keller.  Fantastic arrangement of this song…really stayed true to the original but grassed it up in so many new ways at the same time.  Besides, what crowd doesn’t like a little Tom Petty?  Or a little Cody Kilby on guitar while they’re at it?  Just how incredible is he?  No, really.  My hat is ever off to Mr. Kilby — such skills that pay the bills!!  Further down the set we were gifted with a lengthy “Broken Convertible” with some awesome breakdowns in it.  Lots of great jams in this set so far!  Keller hammed it up something wonderful on the vocals for this one, the gents in harmonic support sounding superb themselves.  A lovely round-robin of solo work from all the members of the band in this one, too.  Rob, Ronnie, Jason, everyone sounded amazing, nice long jams giving them the opportunity to really shine.  Cody and Alan had their own moments, of course.  This was a big song with all sorts of music coming at us.  It was magnificent.  This was followed by more Dead with “I Know You Rider” which whipped that late night crowd into a hopping frenzy of fun loving and music mischief.  “I wish I was a headlight on a northbound train!” rang the lyrics from the mouths of every person in the building, as we all screamed our happiness together.  Sizzling hot fiddle from Jason in this one…so very good.  Perfect.  And then there was that smokin’ banjo solo from the Five-String Flamethrower right at the end which capped things off in excellent fashion.  Bam!  Just like that!  Finally, later on a bit it was time to bring this marvelous set of music to a fitting end and what could have been more fitting than “Bumper Sticker”?  I mean, the song calls out so many folks at DF this year by name, included Del, himself.  It’s like a roster of great music within more music.  How great is that?  Despite it being late, we even got a cameo from Lisa McCoury, Rob’s wife, who came out and danced a bit for us.  It was fantastic.  This is a fast picker for sure, too, and the boys all just nailed down tight ensemble sound in quick time.  And then, wham!  It was over and we were all cheering like maniacs for an encore.  Which, luckily, we got…gratefully.  And some Foster the People, too.  Have you heard Keller and the McCourys’ version of “Pumped Up Kicks”?  It’s pretty sweet, I must admit.  And, what’s that?  More incredible vocal harmonies overlaying wicked hot instrumentals?  Oh, please no.  Anything but that!  Rob was on fire on his banjo, fingers making it smoke from head to foot.  Colby?  Guitar god again as usual?  You bet your boots, friends.  Ronnie?  Pure domination on mandolin?  And with some “Hot Stuff” teases, too?  Oh, Ronnie.  Good stuff.  And that central breakdown.  Whew!  What a thrill ride!  Jason Carter laid down some deadly seriously fiddle as the band jammed around him with reckless abandon.  Suffice it to say, this monster encore brought the house down at the end just like you’d have expected…faster and faster and faster until the very last vocals heralding the end of DelFest 9.  A few thank yous and lots and lots of cheering and then, it was all over.  So quickly, seeming, and yet, we’d been at this for days.  But, what a way to end it all!  What a DelFest!  What a weekend!  Many thanks to The Travelin’ McCourys and to Keller Williams for ushering us all to the other side with music unparalleled and enough energy to see us all back to our homes safely the following day.  

The Travelin' McCourys featuring Keller Williams

The Travelin' McCourys featuring Keller Williams

    And, while I’m on the subject of giving thanks, I merely want to say another round of thank yous to Del McCoury, his family, his band, and his people for all the magic they instill in DelFest, for all the warm welcoming they do all weekend long, and for simply being wonderful folks.  Thanks to all the bands for the stellar music offerings throughout our days in Cumberland — your music clearly helped to make this the best DelFest yet.  Bravi to one and all!!  And a huge thanks to my community, my bluegrass family, my fellow Deltopians…you always make it so easy to do this thing that we do, and a helluva lot of fun to boot.  I really can hardly wait for next year’s 10th Anniversary DelFest.  Talk about your shenanigannery!!  Guess we’ll just all have to wait a spell and see…

The McCoury Family

The McCoury Family

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Thanks for reading everyone!!  Next up?  Telluride!!

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Saturday

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Saturday

DelFest 9

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Saturday Highlights

The Sam Bush Band

    Back at the main stage at DelFest.  Precisely where I wanted to be.  After a day already full of incredibly wonderful bluegrass music it was time to soak in a little of the Sam Bush Band and their special brand of the same.  Walking towards the front of the crowd we were greeted with the sounds of “On the Road”, Scott Vestal’s lead in on banjo like an old friend taking you to something amazing.  And then Sam starts in on the vocals and, just like that, we were off to another incredible ride through a fine set of grass.  A song filled with advice from a life spent long on the road, it was a pretty perfect way to get things going.  And talk about a band just filled with phenomenal musicians.  Always means you get some seriously kick ass bluegrass as a result, Sam Bush Band style.  From Scott on banjo to Stephen Mougin on guitar to Sam on mando and back around again, there was so much goodness going on in this number.  Mandolin was the name of the game introducing the next song up, “Play By Your Own Rules”.  Yet more advice coming down from Uncle Sammy, I think we’d all love to play by our own rules a bit more.  Some lovely duet work between Sam and Stephen in between verses — I do so love the sound of this band.  The King of Telluride certainly doesn’t disappoint.  Then it was all time for us to be “Riding That Bluegrass Train” apparently.  And why not?  All aboard, in my opinion.  And what a ride it was with Sam at the controls!  Yet another bluegrass classic played to the nth degree.  Man, do these guys always put on a fantastic show!  Sammy thrashed out some mean mando for us during this one showcasing his singular skills.  However, Mougin and Vestal were not to be outdone, throwing down some serious stylings of their own on guitar and banjo respectively.  A round robin of skill and talent this continued for some time, man to man to man until Sam launched back into the vocals and kept that train a-rollin’.  A personal favorite of mine was next in line that set and, lucky for all of us, we got it on video for you.  Hope you enjoy “They’re Gonna Miss Me When I’m Gone” as much as we did! 

Love that song!  And how can’t you, right?  I mean, it’s Sam we’re talking about!!  Following “They’re Gonna Miss Me” we got a supremely enjoyable “One More Love Song” and then some quick pickin’ in the form of “Hard Hearted”, Mougin and Vestal tearing it up on their respective instruments.  Nothing like being caught up in that singular style of bluegrass attributed to Sam and his band — they really take you places with their music, to other times and through the stories of their songs.  The completely entrancing instrumental “Greenbrier” was next in line, with each member of the band shining through on their chosen instrument like a miniature star, creating a fabric and musical landscape so easy on the ears and soul.  Truly, each of these gentlemen is a virtuoso in his own right and that is most readily apparent in jams like “Greenbrier”.  Lengthy solos from Vestal, Mougin, and Bush made for an even more robust piece of music for our senses of hearing to savor as we all danced and swayed like the trees dancing in the wind all around.  Goodness!!  And Todd Parks laying down that bass line like a champ all set long.  Hells yeah.  “Midnight on the Stormy Deep” saw Del, himself, come join Sam and band for a song from “the old country”.  What a vocal duet between McCoury and Bush!  Just lovely!!  Later on down the set Sammy gave us his version of “Great Balls of Fire”, one of which I am sure that Jerry Lee Lewis would have been proud.  I’ve heard Sam do this a few times before and I just love the energy he brings to it and the energy that it brings to a setlist.  Not that a Sam Bush Band setlist is usually lacking in energy — just the opposite.  Finally, they closed their set down a bit later on by asking Ronnie McCoury to come and join them on stage for Bob Dylan’s “When You Gonna Wake Up”.  Ronnie remarked as he got situated that he was getting to “play with [his] hero” to which Sam Bush replied, “is David Grisman here?”  We all got a nice laugh out of that one.  Well-played, Sammy.  Well-played.  And “When You Gonna Wake Up” was well-played also…finishing things off with a little rock’n’roll, McCoury in support.  A good message to end their show with as well, methinks.  Music certainly exists to make us think from time to time as well as entertain.  Sam, apparently, thinks the same way.  Never a bad time with Mr. Bush and his baller ass band and this was certainly no exception.  So many thanks to the man and band for so much wonderful music, as always.  Sure was making me look forward to Telluride!!

The Sam Bush Band

The Sam Bush Band

Railroad Earth

    As the darkening evening air descended around us that Saturday night, we all made our way up to the main stage again for some of that excellent foot-tappin’ Americana string band music that only Railroad Earth can serve up.  The setting was just perfect for more great music and we all knew that RRE wouldn’t disappoint.  They launched into the easy-going “Storms” to get things started off right for us.  The instrumental opening grew steadily to life and then Todd Sheaffer’s voice emanated from the speakers in soft waves of comfort and beauty.  It’s like having a favorite uncle sing you gently through life.  And, of course, Tim Carbone’s fiddle, always there for you akin to an arm around the shoulder made of the purest and most gorgeous musical texture.  John Skehan then added his own brand of lovely to the mix on mandolin, richening the entire piece further.  An auspicious beginning to be sure, my friends.  Carey Harmon laid down a big, big beat on the drums as introduction to “Seven Story Mountain” which followed “Storms”.  Todd thanked us all over the mic as the song built and built relaying that it was a pleasure to be at DelFest.  I was very much inclined to agree with him.  They continued to build and flesh things out for several minutes in anticipation of Todd’s vocal entrance.  Makes for quite the satisfying musical experience.  And, throughout, that metronomic rhythm from Carey.  Magnificent, thus far.  And only getting better.  I am kind of biased towards the next song they played given where I live, however, that does not negate how good the song really is.  Upbeat and filled with great banjo from Andy Goessling from the very beginning, “Colorado” speaks to one of my favorite times in my favorite state, summertime in Colorado.  Hard to hate a song about such bright subjects, right?  In fact, you down right fall in love with it.  Carbone’s solo in the middle was like a big, fresh breath only to be answered by Skehan on mando, laying down his own fine and extensive solo work.  And then they traded back again, a round robin of solo prowess.  It is just this kind of skill and acumen that is shared amongst the members of the band that makes one of their songs or shows so entertaining.  If you love really good music, that is.  If you don’t, well, let’s just hope that’s not the case.  A little on down the set they gave us the slightly melancholy “Mourning Flies”, the soft and lilting guitar solo intro setting the tone for this one.  Enter Carbone’s gentle fiddle over the top of the guitar for a minute or two.  And then enter the rest of the band for that kind of slowly intensifying introduction for which this band is known.  This was a lengthy version of the song coming in at 11:18 with plenty of opportunities for each gent to strut his stuff on his chosen instrument.  Which they took and ran with, believe you me.  They took “Mourning” directly into Simon and Garfunkel’s “America” next, the energy of the new song echoing the previous one.  Mellow was the name of the game for the moment, all with the undercurrent of intense emotion and feeling.  This was American music, through and through.  The music of our folk, our people, and played by those who really get it.  What a treat!!  The crowd certainly enjoyed the gift of this one as Todd nailed the vocals down expertly as well, of course.  Carey even had some solo time a couple of minutes in…but vocal solo time.  Not so often we get to see that.  Pretty great right?  Sadly there was a huge power outage to the main stage area that shut things down for a few minutes and brought “America” to a premature close.  They were able to get things repaired quickly enough, though, and the show kept right on going.  “Walk Beside Me” (which featured a phatty, phatty bass solo from Andrew Altman) followed “America” and went directly into “Birds of America” which we were able to capture on video for you to check out.  Please enjoy!! 

Pretty big “Birds of America” huh?  Hope you liked that little piece of the show.  Which kept right going as “Birds” went directly into the fast pickin’ “Stillwater Getaway”.  Talk about a tune to get your blood moving!  Amazing solos all around…once again.  Are you sensing a theme?  Because there surely is one when it comes to Railroad Earth — that of exquisite and exquisitely-played music.  What a show it had been.  But, all good things must come to a close now and again, sadly.  However, happily for us, Sierra Hull was out to join them for “Bird in a House”, their ending number.  An old favorite of seemingly most people in the crown, folks were singing along and dancing and enjoying this Railroad experience through to the very end.  It sounded magnificent as it rang out over the crowd, bouncing off the bluffs behind us in the dark.  A truly lovely ending to a truly lovely show.  Many thanks to all the members of the band for such a special evening of music at DelFest 9!!  Bravi, fellas, bravi!!

Railroad Earth

Railroad Earth

The Travelin’ McCourys

    This band has to make some of the absolute best music on the market today.  Hands down.  Every time I see them they are just that much better.  And getting better all the time.  Each of these men is a master on his instrument, proven many times over with awards and accolades…and the applause of countless crowds the country over.  Speed?  You got it.  Agility?  You betcha.  Precision?  But of course!  Skill, talent, acumen, ability?  You’ve got that right, my friends.  And the McCourys have got it all…in spades.  We got our equipment up and rolling from the get go to capture the beginnings of what would be an epic set.  “Cumberland Blues”?  Hot damn.  What a way to start!!  Please enjoy!!

Holy goodness and my stars!  How great was that??  They continued things smartly with “Somebody’s Gonna Pay”, Ronnie McCoury at the mic for lead vocals.  Just love that man’s voice…so crystal clear and so perfect for bluegrass.  There was some nice interplay between Jason Carter on fiddle and Rob McCoury on banjo that made for a special moment in the song.  Never would want to get on Ronnie’s bad side, though, like the person in this song.  Much rather be a friend to the McCourys, right?  Right.  Then it was time for Jason’s time at the mic, set up to croon one for us in the form of “Southbound”.  What a rich voice he has.  Always love getting a Carter solo.  This time the interplay occurred between the McCoury brothers, mando and banjo, respectively.  Quick-paced and fun, to be sure.  Love watching those two play alongside one another.  Cody Kilby stepped out and threw down a pretty monstrous guitar solo a couple minutes in, as well.  That fellow is a pure guitar machine, no doubt about it.  Nothing but mad respect.  Alan Bartram took lead vocals on the next, the slightly sadder “Hardest Heart”, which featured some gorgeous fiddle work from Jason alongside Robbie’s fantastic banjo.  Ronnie made his presence felt as well through some superb mandolin following.  And then there’s Cody once again to just dominate the fretboard and make it sing so sweetly.  Excellent ensemble sound in this song…really sounded just fantastic.  And this was my first time hearing it as well.  Hope it won’t be my last.   A little later down the set it was time for some amazing vocal harmonies as the band covered Passenger’s “Let Her Go” — I mean these guys polished the heck out of their parts for this song.  And it really showed.  Ronnie was on the lead for it and when joined by his fellows, magic ensued.  Truly.  What an addition to the setlist for the evening!  This was followed by Robbie leading things off on banjo for the familiar and fabulous “Midnight Flyer”, Jason Carter taking lead vocals once again.  This one steamed along steadily just like a locomotive of bluegrass chugging into the night.  That sound of Rob’s banjo just sticks out in my mind…ever-present in the song and excellent.  Grooving merrily along with The Travelin’ McCourys!!  What more could you ask for?  More train songs?  Why the heck not?  Alan took to the mic once more for the lead on “I Think I’ll Stay Awhile”, a song about the siren-call of the train tracks and where they might lead…possibly to anywhere.  Ronnie McCoury colored things in with some lovely mando while his brother followed suit on banjo.  Bartram delivered some really fine singing throughout this one as well, the man being possessed of a fantastic voice like his compatriots.  A bit further on, Ronnie’s son, Adam McCoury, joined the band for some fun.  And for the Dead’s “Loser”, too.  Talk about fun!!  Adam was one lucky young man, to be sure.  Of course, he definitely had some chops to show off that evening as his father crooned along to us of that familiar sad tale of unluckiness and woe.  The younger McCoury delivered up one groovy and heartfelt solo on guitar before all was said and done.  Bravo to him!!  Definitely a crowd pleaser, this song.  But that should come as no surprise.  The Grateful Dead + The Travelin’ McCourys + DelFest = Inexplicable incredibleness.  Conner Broome came out on stage next to join in on keys alongside Adam and the gents for a spot-on cover of Dire Straits’ “Walk of Life”.  From the first familiar strains of the song, the crowd was instantly on board for this oldie, but greatie.  “He’s got the action, he’s go the motion.  Oooooh yeah, the boy can play!”  And that was certainly the case when it came to the youngest fellas on the stage, Conner and Adam.  Those boys can play, lemme tell you!  Such talent and skill already well-honed at such a young age — I think we can expect great things from both gents in the future.  John Hartford was next on the menu in the form of Jason Carter singing lead vocals on “Back in the Goodle Days”, a favorite around The Lot Scene offices.  Some supremely awesome fiddle came down from Carter on this song when he wasn’t on the lyrics, as well.  Talk about your “goodle days”, right?  Then they invited Del out for a couple of songs for which we were all very grateful.  How couldn’t we be?  The first number they doled out from the stage was “You've Got The Look Of A Perfect Diamond" with Del on lead vocals.  This one was a rollicking good musical time juxtaposed to the lyrics regarding a particularly cold and distant lady.  Bluegrass so often does that, setting text to music that seem so opposite of one another…but it always seems to work out so very well.  Just like with “Perfect Diamond”.  Mighty fine banjo stylings from Rob on this one, too.  That man truly is the “five string flamethrower”.  Ronnie took over the mic from his father for the following number, “Homegrown Tomatoes”, borrowing a little assistance from a piece of paper for the lyrics.  I’ve done that many, many times myself.  The jumbotrons were alight with the lyrics for all to sing along to, and why not?  Who doesn’t love singing along with Del and The Travelin’ McCourys??  So sing we did, loudly and proudly and we had a ball.  Ahhhhh, DelFest.  You know how to get me.  Every time.  They finished their set off by inviting Mark O’Connor out to join in on fiddle for their traditional farewell song, “Travelin’”.  This song is pure energy in bluegrass form.  All cylinders firing and with the nitrous boost of O’Connor in the mix?  Electric!!  Jason and Mark had a really marvelous back-and-forth at one point, fiddles flying in all directions.  It was magnificent.  Quite a way to end the show.  But they weren’t done yet.  How about Del and Sierra Hull coming out to nail down the encore with them?  How’s about that, indeed?!?  A song about a fiddle player was up for us here at the last, according to Carter.  Another Hartford piece, and thankfully because Hartford pieces rock, “Vamp in the Middle” proved the perfect choice for a follow-on song to a set such as that.  Sierra shone like the gemstone she is throughout, her instrument singing brightly.  Dagnabit!!  What a show!!  Such superbly incredible music from start to finish.  So many great guests with so much to add.  Just phenomenal.  A huge thanks to The Travelin’ McCourys and all their folk for such a marvelous DelFest set!  Made me all the more eager for late night Sunday.  But, we’ll have to wait for that for a bit…  

The Travelin' McCourys

The Travelin' McCourys

Late Night - Cabinet - Greensky Bluegrass

    Late Night once again.  And the bill this time?  Cabinet and Greensky.  Holy dynamic duo, Batman!!  This show had been sold out for months in anticipation of a double-barreled display of bluegrass, newgrass, and jamgrass all rolled into one night of fun and frivolity.  And the place was packed, let me tell you.  If people could get into this show, they did get into this show.  And the musical reward for entry?  Pure gold.  Cabinet opened the whole shebang playing hits and jams left and right, like starting off with “Eleanor” which they took directly into “Mysterio”.  Both songs filled with lots of up energy, they proved their own double-barrel opener for the double-barrel late night.  Electrified and electric, Cabinet came roaring out the gate bringing smiles, joy, and fun to one and all assembled under that metal roof.  Todd Kopec spanked that fiddle of his something fierce throughout, laying down some serious notes.  Pappy Biondo also delivered some pretty incredible notes of his own on banjo.  Not to mention all the shredding on electric guitar by Mickey Coviello.  Again, one more band that is filled with beastly players of the highest order.  Machines.  Demi-gods.  Call them what you will, those cats can play!  “Mysterio”, driven forward by the drums of Josh Karis and Jami Novak, is a thrill ride through minor keys and lots of tasty percussion.  Spacey and jammy in all the right ways, an apropos addition for a late night setlist.  Later in their set we were treated to Pappy at the vocals for “Diamond Joe”.  Featuring J.P. Biondo on the mandolin, this song really gets moving as the tale is spun of Diamond Joe and his exploits.  More supremely good guitar work from Coviello here as well.  There was a huge ending jam featuring pretty much everyone on everything before all was said and done throwing the crowd into a veritable frenzy.  It was pretty freakin’ sweet to say the least.  Next up was a super incredible gift of music:  Clapton’s “Cocaine” featuring Cris Jacobs guesting in for a giant 9:18 minutes!!  How lucky were we??  Seriously, we were all pretty much completely beside ourselves. “She don’t lie, she don’t lie, she don’t lie…”  And this music didn’t lie, either…it was so very, very good.  The best.  And Cris Jacobs?  Really?  So very, very good.  A big thanks to the band and to Cris for this one!  I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention all the exquisite jamming that occurred throughout this song, too.  The music was just stupendous.  ‘Nuff said.  They finished their set with a big ol’ fat “Heavy Rain”, a foots-stomper and singalong if there ever was one.  Pappy crooned out his cautionary tale to a crowd of super happy folk as the band slammed along behind him.  Big vocals coming out of this one, awesome harmonies abounding.  Certainly a great way to simmer things down from such a hot, hot show.  Mad ups to Cabinet for bringing the heat to late night and working us all up for some Greensky Bluegrass to follow!  

Cabinet Late Night with Cris Jacobs

Cabinet Late Night with Cris Jacobs

    GSBG!!  Let’s do this!  Riding high on all that incredible Cabinet energy, we were all ready for our Greensky and more.  And just how did they start their show??  Oh, merely a little Talking Heads cover for us… “Road to Nowhere” with Paul Hoffman at the main vocals.  And so we were instantly immersed in Greensky’s musical world and overjoyed for it.  What a stellar version of this song, all grassed up in all the ways you want.  Anders Beck’s ever-present dobro alongside Dave Bruzza’s guitar and Hoffman’s mando…that quintessential sound we associate with GSBG.  All showcased in this one in perfect fashion.  OK.  I was game.  So far, so amazing.  A meaty “Kerosene” followed full of trippy, spaced-out intros and that gunshot of energy as the song takes hold.  Bruzza was in fine form on the vocals and nailed down his line effortlessly.  Beck delivered his usual schooling on the dobro as the song hurtled along at full speed.  The breakdown at the ending was just a monster of a thing.  So dirty nasty good in all the right ways.  The ensuing adoring cheers from the audience were deafening.  Next in the set was “Old Barns” which the band dedicated to Rachel Ciboro. I love this song and I love the way Paul sings it.  Seriously, this one always pulls at the heartstrings.  The hallmark of a truly well-written song.  Later on down the line, the band had a little fun with a “Cocaine” tease, led by Hoffman on mandolin.  Instead, however, Paul sang “Cabinet” instead of “cocaine”.  Too funny.  What a prankster!!  This was followed by a huge “Don’t Lie” to the tune of 16:32, with a crazy good intro jam.  Impressive.  Can’t imagine owning the bass for that long they way that Mike Devol does.  And did.  Talk about the true foundation of the band…his notes are there, always supporting.  Always.  Love his style, too.  Hard not to love the members of this band for all their musical skills and talents.  Mike Bont had a bit of fire in him as well all evening long, taking his banjo to task and producing excellence.  Another brutally good ending jam developed in “Don’t Lie” taking the energy levels to such degrees as to threaten to tear down the Music Hall.  Dobro in your face…so good!!  Bass, badass…so good!!  Banjo all around you…so good!!  Mando madness to behold…so good!!  Guitar goodness…so good!!  And that’s the theme of the Greensky set that late night…so good!!  Still later on in the show we got the sweet deal of “Don’t Lie” directly into “Light Up or Leave Me Alone”, a favorite cover amongst the GSBG fan masses.  And it should be as well.  “Don’t Lie” they took at a quick clip, instruments shining and singing out at the fast tempo.  The kings of the whizzbang wild energy wielding ending jam, they went all in for “Light Up” throwing in “Dancing on the Ceiling” teases and more.  They ramped this one up I tell you!  One of those moments where it’s almost too much music to take in.  But there was so much more music left!  In the form of the main event, in my opinion, the epic (yes, epic) “Worried About the Weather > China Cat Sunflower > Big Shot” that served as the anchor for the show.  Almost 20 minutes of straight bluegrass awesomeness.  Wowsers.  And the Dead.  And Billy Joel.  What??  That’s right.  Bruzza was on lead vocals for “Worried” which sounded just about album perfect, each member completely destroying their parts.  Just as we were grooving along to the song and getting into some jams, they were off into “China Cat Sunflower” to the delight of all.  Paul sounded pretty durn amazing on the lead vocals channeling all his inner Dead that he could muster and more.  What a performance.  Anyways, I just love this song…one of my faves from the Dead’s catalogue.  As such, I was certainly happy to hear it in the mix that night.  Lovely mandolin from Hoffman as well as lovely dobro from Beck.  Perfectly melded parts into the fabric of the song.  Masterful and a joy to hear.  And then, after some more wonderful jamming, it was off into Billy Joel’s musical landscape with “Big Shot”, Hoffman on lead vocals.  Who knew this would be such a big, fat ending to a marvelous show such as this?  Bravi fellas, quite so!  They closed things down with “Dustbowl Overtures” and Paul singing “Easy Like Sunday Morning” teases during the intro.  And close things down they did, too.  Holy goodness…so amazing right to the very end.  A huge round of applause and thanks to the lads in the band for such an incredible time.  Made for the best late night yet (and there was still one more to go!).  What a long and lovely night of music!  My soul was so sated, almost to overflow.  And there was still Sunday Funday to go.  Wow…could I make it?  You has best believe it!!

Greensky Bluegrass Late Night

Greensky Bluegrass Late Night

CLICK ON THE BANNER BELOW FOR OUR COMPLETE PHOTO GALLERIES FROM Saturday @ DELFEST!

Sunday is on its way, my friends!!  Almost there!!

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Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Friday

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Jam Cruise 14 - MSC Divina - Friday

Jam Cruise 14

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Friday Highlights

The Infamous Stringdusters - Dr. John & The Night Trippers - Marco Benevento - Dumpstaphunk - Cabinet - The Werks

    Friday.  Halfway.  Jam Cruise Hump Day.  Call it what you will, that’s where we were.  After a day for many Cruisers spent exploring our port of Costa Maya or for others, like us, enjoying the resuscitative properties of pool and frozen beverage time, we were all ready to continue this madcap voyage of music and merriment.  And first up in line for the evening were The Infamous Stringdusters on the pool deck stage.  After their Pantheon Theater set the first evening the packed crowd assembled there were all ready for some more string band magic care of the Dusters.  The boys opened things up for our departure from Costa Maya with Travis Book on the mic for “Señor” — apropos I would say given our locale.  Really fine fiddle line from Jeremy Garrett on this one as well cementing our ears back into full bluegrass mode.  The Dusters continued with the crowd-pleasing “Where the Rivers Run Cold” with its familiar and fantastic hard drivin’ chorus.  Andy Hall and Chris Pandolfi’s instrumental lines and their interplay provides that blue bedrock foundation in this one and they certainly did so out on the pool deck that afternoon.  I just love, love, love this band’s musical texture and they way they play with it for our entertainment.  Next up they took “My Destination” directly into “Machines” which was quite the ride, musically speaking.  Please take a look and listen: 

We were all fond of saying “this doesn’t suck” in reference to a particular song or band experience while on Jam Cruise…a sort of rallying cry if you will.  And there was just so, so much on Jam Cruise that didn’t suck.  Including that “My Destination” into “Machines” right?  “Peace of Mind” was next on the docket for us from the lads.  “If I could leave one thing behind, a story for peace of mind.”  Love those lyrics.  Not a bad thing to be leaving behind whatsoever.  Great, nasty good dobro solo from Mr. Andy Hall handed down during this little ditty.  Then they had JJ Grey come out to join them for a drivin’ and bluesy “Mojo”.  That soulful voice of JJ Grey filled with all the right kinds of attitude added such a wonderfully new dimension to the Dusters’ sound.  But the boys in the band were not to be outdone, with Jeremy Garrett laying down some fiddle fun in fine fashion as well as Andy Falco’s iconic guitar playing.  Back to the Dead vibe from their first show, the next song up was “Jackstraw” which they took to the mat and owned.  That is a vibe they certainly know how to interface with very well, no doubt about it.  Later down the set we got even more jammy cover goodness in the form of Phish’s “Free”, bluegrass-style, of course.  And, hot damn, did it sound freaking amazing.  The vocal harmonies were so tight as to be almost painfully good and Travis sounded pretty damn great on the lead as well.  And to hear that oh-so-familiar guitar lick of Trey Anastasio being played on several instruments at once adds such a weight to the musical movement throughout the piece.  Not to mention the lights above the stage flashing the word “Free” at all of us dancing like madmen and crazy women under the setting sun.  Bravi, boys, no notes!!  A little later on in the set Roosevelt Collier came out to join the fun with his fellow slide brother and friend, Andy Hall.  The whole of them broke into “HC Funk” which ended up showcasing pretty much every member of the band and Roosevelt, of course, several times each before things were through.  At one point, Collier and Hall had a slide guitar duet going on that was nothing short of mind-bending.  It’s no wonder these two are increasingly better friends to the tune of recording an album together.  Can’t wait to hear that one, right?  “The Night They Drove Ol’ Dixie Down” proved quite the crowd pleaser what with the entire audience singing along.  Another fine cover choice.  They finally closed the whole thing down with the sizzling hot instrumental, “Y2K”, with Jeremy Garrett leading things on his magic fiddle for us all.  Certifiably insane amounts of energy was coming from that stage by the time the last note rang out.  What an ending!!  So, there you have it.  The Dusters killed it summarily for a second time on the Boat this time around.  Excellent work, gentlemen, excellent!!  Thanks for all the amazing memories!!

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

    Admittedly so, I had never seen Dr. John and The Nite Trippers before Jam Cruise.  I, like many, was familiar with his name, legend, and some of his music, but sadly not as much I would have liked.  So, it was a great get to have this man and his band on the Boat this year.  Always fantastic to have some supremely fine New Orleans sound around.  It was an eclectic mix of the good Doctor’s songs and covers — a perfect gumbo of music and mayhem into which to immerse oneself.  And with all the fantastic piano stylings of Dr. John as well as the exquisite playing of his band, there was no reason to be unhappy on the pool deck that evening.  Of note for me was the trombone playing and singing and general great energy of Sarah Morrow.  What a perfect counterpoint to Dr. John is she!!  One enjoyable cover they did was “Iko Iko”, a song known to each and every member of the crowd and a great sing-a-long as it were.  Especially with a bit of “Shoo Fly” mashed up into the mix.  We may not have set any flags on fire but the night was certainly ablaze with the sound of the Nite Trippers!  Stanley Jordan came out for a couple of numbers to lend his immense guitar chops to the night’s awesome, as well.  So glad that happened!  Suffice it to say, incredible amounts of talent on stage all set long.  Was definitely looking forward to hearing more of this act on the Boat!

Dr. John & The Nite Trippers

Dr. John & The Nite Trippers

    And then it was down to the Black and White Room for another act I’d be seeing for the first time:  Marco Benevento.  It’s amazing the amount of music I haven’t yet seen when I think about it.  Which seems preposterous given my job.  However, there’s a first time for everything and this was mine seeing Marco do his solo act thing.  Walked into a very chill piece immediately hit with keys from Mr. Benevento himself.  This developed into a pure rock feel with moderately heavy guitar driving home the chordal framework as the piano worked over the top.  So far, so good…was really enjoying what I was hearing.  Nice to take a step back in overall frenetic energy, too.  Again, I say, a marathon of sprints.  And it pays to remember this fact!  Later on the sound developed into a groovy, driving, kind of trippy phase showcasing the obvious musical versatility of the ensemble on stage with Marco as well as his very own.  Very danceable music and people definitely took it upon themselves to oblige.  We bathed in this unique and mellow dance hall energy for awhile but the creep took hold of us and we were off to the front of the boat for some more funk.  Excellently good time with Mr. Benevento — will be looking for him to come around soon and often.

Black and White Room - Marco Benevento

Black and White Room - Marco Benevento

    We were like maniacs that night, flying around the Boat trying to catch as much music as humanly possible.  But that’s part of the fun of Jam Cruise, right?  Now it was Dumpstaphunk again, this time in the Pantheon Theater.  We walked right into a wall of sweet funky sound, horns delightfully in our faces as we instantly smiled away in joy.  “Meanwhile…” was about halfway through as we took our places in the balcony and began to dance along with the assembled multitude.  Maybe it was because we were inside this time or maybe because they were just bringing it, but the sound was so huge in the Theater for their set.  Big, bold, and beautiful.  And the fact that they had Roosevelt Collier sitting in on “Meanwhile…” was pretty damn tight, too.  Helluva rendition of that song!  So much energy…damn!  Later down the set we got a personal favorite of mine, “Dancin’ to the Truth”.  Just oozing with funk and attitude, this one never fails to tickle the funky bone.  Plus, who doesn’t want to dance to the Truth?  Amazing keys work from Ivan Neville here, too.  Not to mention Ian Neville on guitar.  My word, so good!  We finished out the set with Dumpstaphunk laying it on nice and thick and on the level.  But it was time to fly away once more…back to the Black and White Room for a bit more Cabinet in our lives.  Thanks for all that funky ass funking funk, Dumpstaphunk.  Knew we could count on you!!

Dumpstaphunk

Dumpstaphunk

    After a stop at the food area for some more, what is it now?  French fries and pizza?  That’s right.  You’re getting the hang of this.  So, after some base needs were met, we were back in the Black and White for some more bluegrass twang all up in our business.  The Cabinet boys made the distinct choice to tear it up again with a number a great selections for us.  Thankfully, so, right?  “Oxygen” was one such number — it sounded album perfect and featured a tight fiddle solo from Todd.  So far, so superb.  Next they invited Chris Pandolfi from The Infamous Stringdusters out to jam a little banjo alongside the band for “Nashville Blues”.  Double banjos?  Panda and Pappy?  You bet your boots!!  This was one rockin’ little number that had us all with feet a-tappin’ and bodies dancing to the beat.  Then it was time for Cris Jacobs and Anders Beck (Greensky Bluegrass) to join in the fun on a swinging version of “Ain’t Gonna Work”.  Really nice addition of Cris on guitar for this one as well as Anders on dobro.  In my opinion, one can always add some dobro to the mix.  Later on down the set we got another personal favorite of mine, “Old Farmer’s Mill” — always one for great energy and excellent musicianship.  And this time was no exception.  Amazing fiddle stylings from Mr. Kopec as well as banjo badassery from Pappy Biondo.  Jay Cobb Anderson joined them on stage for “Poor Man’s Blues” and a blistering hot version, too.  Damn was this some hard drivin’, fast pickin’ from the get go!  Incredible guitar work from both Mr. Anderson and Mr. Coviello as well.  Hell, they all sounded amazing, what can I say?  This was probably the fastest I’ve ever heard them play this song, too…what sizzle!  My goodness!  Finally, how about a Dead cover from these PA boys?  “Loose Lucy” translated perfectly into this set and this setting.  We were all very thankful “for a real good time” about that point.  Lovely choice for us, lads.  Thanks a billion!  And thanks for an incredible set…again.  Cabinet:  another one of those bands that you should always endeavor to see if you can.  They just make it so very worth it!

Cabinet & Cris Jacobs

Cabinet & Cris Jacobs

    We got back up to the Brews at Sea Stage long enough to catch a bit of Ohio’s own The Werks.  This was only my second time seeing the band (I’m sensing a theme for me for this Jam Cruise, no?) and, since I had dug their sound the first time around, I was jazzed to see what I could.  They had Anders Beck and Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass on stage with them as we walked up and embarked upon this straight rock’n’roll jam instrumental.  Very groovy, very danceable.  And a great rock sound.  Later on in the set they covered “Thus Spake Zarathustra (2001)” and it was pretty damn righteous.  They jammed.  It.  Out.  And I mean it.  Seriously good music.  But that was also the signal of our late night creep to commence.  And so we did, and did in style.  Another incredible day of music at one of the very best festivals on the planet.  And, unbelievably so, there were still two days to go!!  Unreal, right?  Well, that is Jam Cruise in a nutshell.  So much music but only one body to contain it all.  Madness.  But madness of the very best kind.

The Werks

The Werks

Saturday is on its way, folks!!

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