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Fruition

WinterWonderGrass CO 2018 - Saturday

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2018 - Saturday

WINTERWONDERGRASS CO 2018

FESTIVAL EXPERIENCE ARCHIVE

for The Lot Scene by Lindsay

Saturday Highlights

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades - The Lil' Smokies - Fruition - Greensky Bluegrass

     Ah, day two. The day where you begin to familiarize yourself with the fairgrounds, regroup with your friends and reminisce on the previous day’s festivities. But Winter Wondergrass offers more to this experience. On day two, the masses made their way to the slopes where The Wooks were playing a set at a mountaintop lodge, which was only accessible by skis. This is where it’s decided: Bloody Mary’s on a mountaintop and Champagne Powder® runs at the ‘Boat is what takes Winter Wondergrass to the next level. Not only are you seeing class-act music, but you’re also getting a workout in with scenic views to boot. The pursuit of powder is truly what draws in so many of the attendees, both local and out-of-state.

     After changing out ski boots for Sorels, festival goers made their way back to the fairgrounds. Horseshoes & Hand Grenades opened the Saturday Main Stage with a glorious set, filled with slap-stick style bluegrass (see: Gaelic-style a cappella, “Barley Malt”). Covers like Woody Guthrie’s “Danville Girl” and Talking Head’s “Naïve Melody” began to draw in any stragglers hanging in the back. Finishing off with a high-tempo “Whiskey>jam>Whiskey” drew in the crowd that would remain for what seemed like the remainder of the day. 

Horseshoes & Hand Grenades

     Montana-based Lil Smokies brought in a new energy with their progressive sound. Stand-outs like “The City,” “Ms. Marie” and “The Gallery” instilled an emotional gusto that got the crowd buzzing on the coldest day of the festival. Then the clouds began to set in and Fruition took the stage. 

The Lil' Smokies

     It seems like Portland-bred Fruition always gets the brunt of the conditions at Winter Wondergrass, and I couldn’t think of any band that could handle it better. Maybe it’s their Pacific Northwest grit or general rock ‘n roll attitude that helps them withstand the elements, but undoubtedly, Fruition is approaching their sets with a new prowess these days. Their new album, “Watching It All Fall Apart,” acts as a beacon of connection with the audience in a way that hasn’t been touched before. Mimi Naja’s “Northern Town” triggered a snowfall, which made those around me question if Ullr had an affinity towards the soulful love song. I’d like to think so.

Kellen Asebroek of Fruition

     Night Two ended with WWG-vets, Greensky Bluegrass. Most of the boys graced the stage clad in branded festie merch, while dobro player, Anders Beck, decided to play it safe with a ski helmet and goggles. It was a smart move on Beck’s part; snow began to fall harder onto the crowd and onto his dobro. At one point the boys thanked the crowd and dubbed the Colorado fans as some of the most loyal (and crazy) fans to walk the planet. They’re not wrong.  They opened with the jam-heavy “Don’t Lie > Gimme Some Lovin’ > Don’t Lie,” to warm up the crowd. It seemed as though all 5,000 attendees were crammed towards the front of this show because it was packed, ruthless, and undoubtedly warm. Other stand-out songs were the Bruzza tune “Take Cover,” where shout-outs to it being “REALLY SNOWY” and “VERY…COLD” had the crowd all smiles. More climate-focused songs like “Worried About the Weather” and “Burn Them” payed homage to the elements. But it was the “Broke Mountain Breakdown > Walk Away >  Broke Mountain Breakdown” that kept the crowd on their nearly-frost bitten toes. As the set ended, Beck showed his “snowbro” to the audience who erupted in cheers. It seems only fitting that the band, who seems synonymous with the term “Winter Wondergrass,” would be snowed on the entirety of their set. With Andrew Lincoln’s unrivaled lights penetrating the snowfall, it was an image and feeling that cannot be replicated by the written word.

Paul Hoffman of Greensky Bluegrass

Sunday, Sunday, SUNDAY on its way everyone!!!

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Fruition - Nov 16, 2017 - Applegate Lodge - Applegate, OR

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Fruition - Nov 16, 2017 - Applegate Lodge - Applegate, OR

Fruition

Nov 16, 2017 - Applegate Lodge - Applegate, OR

for The Lot Scene by Leah Markman

photos by Joseph Silva/Clear Creek Photography

Fruition Smokes Out the Applegate

     My first memory of this band was of hearing their voices late into the night and ushering in the dawn. I found them on street corners, living rooms, rooftops and beaches with shooting stars darting across the sky. I first met these wonderful humans a few years back, limping their van into my driveway, and it did not take long to soon fall in love them.

     I’ve seen this band play to an empty room and sell out the largest venues, this band needs no audience to play, they sincerely love their music. Not only this, they have the magical ability to write songs that seem custom tailored to our own souls.

     In early October, Fruition released a November tour through Northern California up into Oregon. This journey kicked off with their first appearance at Terrapin Crossroads. Word on the street is that for the first time they covered a Grateful Dead song, fitting within the hallowed halls of Terrapin. Uniquely, this tour involved local small hometown bars that provided an intimate personal experience with the band.  These days catching the fruits in these type of venues is getting harder and harder to accomplish as their following grows. 

     These days, I have slowed down. No longer able to go on all the tours and follow some of my favorite music around the country, I visit my local haunt often to satisfy this craving. Nestled into the Applegate river, trees and moss grow through and wrap around the wood balcony, ablaze with rainbow lights reflecting off the river. Tonight, the normally tranquil Applegate River lodge is vibrating with energy. The Thursday show sold out days prior, the sleepy little rural lodge is jam packed.

Fruition at Applegate

Fruition at Applegate

     As always, I am late to the show, running through puddles I enter in during their second song, soaked in rainwater and brimming with excitement. “Blue Light” is one of those songs where when I had dreadlocks, people would give me a wide berth of distance because I was flying! Still to this day their songs require head banging, elbows flying and legs spinning in all directions.

     The floor was packed, the balcony lined. Little to no dance room to be found, but in a community like the lodge we make room for each other. We dance and spin each other, while encouraging new faces to step up front to see. No drinks are allowed in the event space, a rule I have learned to love. This helps creates an amorous atmosphere where the fellow fruity freaks and local lodge goers are aware of each other, our surroundings and courteous to what we all need while experiencing this music. 

     Speaking with some Fruity Freaks that went on the whole tour from Terrapin through to Bend, I gain some insight into what they’ve been playing. Songs such as “There She Was, Mountain Annie, I Can’t Stop.” Songs where the entire crowd can sing every lyric. In true form, Fruition honors those musicians who have shaped our lives today, gracing the Lodge with two beautiful Tom Petty covers, and one hell an Encore of “American Girl”. I think the song I am most grateful more and treasure is “I’ve Got the Spliff You’ve Got the Fire” from the very early days. It has changed and grown with them and brings them back to the rainy Portland streets and soggy rooms until sunrise.

     Fruition is always expanding. They have never strayed too close to home in their travels and in their music. Constantly challenging themselves, their songs and their fans to never believe a song is finished, and to expect the unexpected. Their music gets deeper and stronger every time I see this band perform. I am excited to see where their music takes them! Stay cool in Mexico folks and happy end of Fall Tour, Fruition!  I only wish the best for you! 

Thank you for always being there in our ears, and our hearts, 

Leah Markman 

Fruition at Applegate

Fruition at Applegate

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Fruition - 08 October 2017 - The Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH

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Fruition - 08 October 2017 - The Beachland Tavern - Cleveland, OH

 

FRUITION

08 OCTOBER 2017 - THE BEACHLAND TAVERN - CLEVELAND, OH

for The Lot Scene by Will Huston

    Every year like clockwork around October and certainly by November the majority of festivals are over and all of our favorite shows and touring acts come back indoors to our local venues and bars.  One such venue and my second home in a sense is the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern in Cleveland, Ohio.  An old Croatian club turned music venue in 2000, with one side holding a 500 capacity ballroom and the other being a small tavern stage. The venue is independently owned and operated by people who really have a passion for music and making sure that everyone involved has a great experience, from the staff, to the bands, to the crowd. Throughout the years I've been fortunate enough to see some fairly large acts in the tavern before the explosion of popularity hit. I'll always look back to these shows and feel privileged to have seen them with close friends. There is really something special to be said about seeing an act in a small, intimate setting and having a closer connection to the music.  This past week I was at one of these intimate tavern shows seeing Fruition. I learned about Fruition from my friend, Amy years ago who was roommates with members of the group. I was told I would enjoy them, and I can say that I have had a blast watching them perform all over the country these last few years. Last Sunday night they came to my town. This was not the first time Fruition had been to the Beachland; in fact they were here within the past year, traveling all the way from Portland Oregon where the bands resides when not in tour mode.  Shows here at the Beachland often feel like house parties in a sense. The Tavern does not have strict rules, time guidelines or early curfews allowing bands the freedom to move at their own pace, have a few drinks and have a good time.  Fruition is a band that has no problem having a good time with their sets and throwing back a few with the crowd. Since the venue is so nice and Fruition is cool I was able to record a portion of the show to share with you all here on The Lot Scene.  If you enjoy what you see, give Fruition a like, buy some music or a ticket to an upcoming show. Be sure to tell others about "The Lot Scene" and help us grow and provide even more media news, music and photographs to music fans everywhere.  

Hope you enjoy and many thanks, William Huston. 

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Saturday

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WinterWonderGrass CO 2017 - Saturday

WinterWonderGrass CO 2017

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Saturday Highlights

Fruition - Sam Bush Band - The Infamous Stringdusters

    WinterWonderGrass, indeed!  What a wintry day was Saturday this year, friends…cold and snowy and windy.  The trifecta.  Everyone was donning multi-layer outfits to combat the elements successfully enough so that they could soak in some hot, hot grass music on the main stage.  Steamboat looked a mysterious blur of white and muted sunlight all around us as the mountains wavered in and out of view.  However, if the sheer numbers of people present were any indication, then I’d say the indomitable human spirit was the winner that day as we all overcame the cold and snow in favor of some seriously amazing music awaiting us.  Like Portland, Oregon’s own Fruition, for example.  Their last performance of a six week tour, this sizzling hot ensemble was certainly ready to bring it to Colorado and then some.  Kicking things off just right, the band opened with “Somehow, Someway, Someday”, Mr. Jay Cobb Anderson at the mic for lead vocals.  Of course, like with so many favorites from Fruition, this vocal solo quickly turned into a multi-voice harmony adding Mimi Naja and Kellen Asebroek to the mix.  Tyler Thompson established an early prominence on drums that would continue throughout the set, his metronomic beats keeping the band moving ever forward as the winter winds whipped into their faces, freezing fingers and voices alike.  Jay’s bright and boisterous guitar solo around three minutes in most assuredly helped to keep the crowd a bit warmer in front of the stage.  And, just like that, Fruition were off to an incredible start ready to warm our hearts with more of their phenomenal music.  A little ways down the line they gave us a fantastic WWG version of the title track of their latest album, Labor of Love.  Speaking of albums…this number sounded pretty darn album perfect, my friends.  Seriously, the harmonies were so tight, the ensemble sound so polished.  What a rendition of this delightful song about friendship and relationship and life.  Mimi was all over that mandolin of hers like a magical madwoman of multiple notes, the unmistakable tone shining out into the cold air like a beacon of love itself.  Jeff Leonard’s bass was nothing short of the perfect foundation throughout “Labor of Love”, each note shoring up the texture around it in an expert and heartfelt manner.  And, if you’ve read any of my reviews before, you know I am a sucker for great musical texture.  And what provides the root for so much of that?  Great bass work.  Cheers to Jeff for the very same!  Later still, Johnny Bones of The California Honeydrops joined the band for a couple of numbers, the first of which was “I Should Be (On Top of the World)”, a mellow, soulful number sung by Mimi.  Luckily for you, my friends, we captured that very song on video amidst the driving snow.  Just for you, friends!!  Please enjoy!! 

What a crazy day for some music, no?  All told, it is a super fun way to hear some great string band grooves…awakens the senses.  Just after “I Should Be” they went into one of my favorite Fruition songs of all times:  “There She Was”.  Funky, fresh, fun, fabulous, this song never fails to excite and delight.  Seriously groovy and filled with fantastic musical attitude, “There She Was” is a journey through funk and freaky music fantasy that takes you on a ride of pure enjoyment.  Kellen was up to the mic for the vocal lead and he crooned the lyrics in a mesmerizing sort of way as the rest of the band provided a rich backdrop of vocal harmonies, varying tempos, guitar solos, running bass lines, a chorus of drum energies, and lots and lots of rock and roll marvel.  Johnny Bones was a beast on his horn, too, really adding a nice flourish to this song and throwing down one mean, mean solo — certainly grateful to have him on board.  And the breakdown surrounding that horn solo?  Exquisite.  How can’t you just madly adore this band?  So many thanks to them and to Johnny for an incredible WWG “There She Was”!!  Bravi!!  Wow.  Whew!  The very next song in line that day was a cover that instantly whipped the crowd into an appreciative frenzy.  And what a great cover for this band, too.  “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” featured Kellen and Mimi kicking complete and total ass on the vocals as the band put together a monster version of this one behind them on their chosen instruments.  Short and sweet, this one was a nice surprise and apropos given the mountains surrounding us on all sides.  I love it when things line up like that.  Right?  Quite the crowd pleaser, to be sure.   A bit further on, we were presented with the lovely and soul-gripping “The Meaning”, a song filled with emotion and mellow intensity.  Kellen took the lead on the vocals for this one as well, singing sweetly out to the snow-covered audience huddled in their winter coats and hats and gloves.  “I was born to love you, I will die and go back to stardust…”  What poetry, no?  And this song is just chock full of the same.  Definitely a favorite of this writer.  Some really incredible vocal harmonies here as well…something this band has down pat.  And the breakdown about three minutes in?  Yeah, it was pretty super duper, I can tell you that.  These guys most assuredly know how to jam with one another and do it very well.  From Mimi killing it on mando to the two gents on guitar and all around the ensemble, it sounded just superb.  Finally, they closed things down at the end of their set with “The Way That I Do”, Jay Cobb Anderson back to the mic for lead vocals.  What a voice on that man!  My goodness!  Wouldn’t it be cool to have him sing you to sleep for a week?  I smell an auction somewhere in there!  Ha!  Jay, you know I think you are amazing, good sir!  What a percussion breakdown from T. Thom as well.  So much rhythm all in one place.  Fun times.  Oh yes, such fun times.  What a fitting way to finish up this fiery hot set from Fruition!  It’s no secret these guys are pretty damn stellar, however, after a show like that, there could be no doubt whatsoever.  So many thanks on behalf of Colorado and WWG for granting us such a marvelous set!  Phenomenal, through and through.  Cheers to the lass and lads of Fruition!

Fruition

Fruition

    Sam.  Bush.  Band.  Need I really say anymore?  I mean, as you well know, I could leave it right at that.  But am I going to?  You know me better than that!  Saturday was still aswirl with bright white flakes whipping to and fro as the weather kept the spirit of this festival alive and searing hot in the spirits of those gathered for some great and gargantuan grass grooves.  And, believe-you-me, Sammy and his band did not disappoint.  They started things off with a nice little, building intro into Sam leading things forward on his magic mandolin, the band churning stronger and stronger in support as the song took shape settling into the familiar chords of “Play By Your Own Rules” to the utter delight of the crowd.  Uncle Sam lit up the microphone with the vocals as we all sang along under the snowy skies.  Scotty Vestal sounded crisp and polished on his banjo as always, nailing down note after perfect note either soloing or in support of Sam’s mando.  Then you’ve got Stephen Mougin on guitar and vocal harmonies…just the kind of man for such a job as well.  That gent can play, my friends!  And sing.  And make the best faces in photos by Will Rawls.  Seriously.  He is an all around talent.  And one cannot fail to mention Todd Parks on bass, the cornerstone of every good Sam Bush Band number.  Foundational and expert in every way, Todd’s proven himself the consummate member of the band.  Of course, such exquisite bass stylings go hand-in-hand with the drumming of Chris Powers.  Driving force and rhythms, time and again.  And what a complete ensemble sound!  Love this band!  Off to a very strong start, Sam and the fellas were not going to sit on their laurels.  To the contrary.  They followed “Play By Your Own Rules” up with an old SBB favorite, “Transcendental Meditation Blues”, with Sammy up to the mic to deliver the lyrics in his signature vocal style.  It’s a lot like having your favorite uncle singing you tale after incredible tale all while jamming like a gifted madman on mandolin.  Not bad, right?  Not bad at all!  Scott threw down a solid banjo solo about two minutes into things which he traded right off to Sam on mando, melody from one instrument to the next seamlessly and professionally.  Watching musicianship of this high caliber is always such a treat — certainly one of the reasons so many of us have flocked to the bluegrass genre and sub-genres.  Hot on the heels of the previous song, it was time to “ride the bluegrass train” according to Sammy.  Which is probably why they played “Riding That Bluegrass Train” immediately after he said that.  Or it was just a weird coincidence.  Either way, we all found ourselves hurtling along the musical tracks with this one, at the behest of the Sam Bush Band.  Things got nice and funky in the middle, with a jam led by Sam on mandolin, really getting nasty up in there…nasty good, that is.  Vestal answered with some well-placed, tasty notes of his own only to hand things back to Sam who, in turn, traded off to Mougin who unleashed a torrent of notes on his guitar.  What a round robin…that kept on going!  Incredible music to stupendous music to marvelous music and back again.  These guys are pretty good, you know?  Yeah, more like grass gods.  A little down the set, they played a personal favorite of mine, a chill and happy-making one called “Everything Is Possible”.  Why not get into music with a good message, right?  Nothing wrong with that.  And this groovy selection is most certainly is that in spades.  I mean, with a line like “Who’s to say something wonderful won’t happen to you?” in there, how can’t you feel a bit better just for having heard Sam and his Band lay this one down for you?  Great central jam in this song, too.  Just some seriously good music going on.  Lucky for WinterWonderGrass, right?  A little further down the set came a tune from the Band’s Storyman album which was co-written by Sam and Scott.  This sizzling hot one called “Greenbrier” is a rocket ship ride into the outer reaches of bluegrass badassery, to say the least.  So many notes coming from the entire stage:  mandolin and banjo and guitar and bass and even those drums, all engaged in the mystery and sorcery that is incredibly awesome string band music.  What a journey to go on with this band!  Rich in texture and in melody and in energy, “Greenbrier” is an all-around bluegrass feast, with more than enough for everyone to leave sated, happy.  One of the things I love most about a tune like this is just how it showcases the musical acumen and skill of these heroes of ours, these legends of the stage.  Watching Mougin’s hands move like wildfire over the strings of his guitar; seeing Vestal’s calm, collected, measured approach to killing on banjo; observing Sam in all his glory and majesty…these things are so special to witness.  “Circles Around Me” is a consummate Sam Bush song known far and wide in the grass community.  It is almost synonymous with the King of Telluride himself.  Please enjoy this video we captured this special WWG moment with the Sam Bush Band!! 

Amazing that they can play in such harsh conditions, right?  I really felt for their poor fingers on that blustery stage.  My final memory of the show was Sam and the gents covering “Midnight Rider” by the Allman Brothers.  Not a bad parting shot, right?  And, damn, did it ever sound fantastic!  Suffice it to say, SBB brought it to the very end.  So much energy and so much superb music shared with the chilly crowd of WonderGrass.  It really is hard to say enough good things about this group.  I have seen them many times and have loved every minute of every show.  Just goes to show that worthy music moves the soul…it’s almost impossible to stop it.  Just like the music of Sam Bush and his Band.  Just like that.  Thanks so much to all the fine fellows on stage who made such a cold night so hot for us all!  Bravi to the Sam Bush Band!  

Sam Bush Band

Sam Bush Band

    Main stage, big time, big band, big expectations.  And, what did the Dusters open with?  None other than “Big River”.  Yeah, that’s right.  “Big River”.  And what a way to walk back into the venue after a quick condo run!  The air around me thick with the sounds of The Infamous Stringdusters, their mad good vocal harmonies and madcap antics on stage coupled with world-class musical skill and talent, a spring in my step as I wandered ever onward through the snow towards the stage…and then, bam.  Music.  Certainly one of my favorite bands to see live, the Dusters clearly came correct that night and ready to wow the hell out of us and reanimate our cold bodies with some searing hot grass music.  And “Big River” proved to be one perfect opener per the crowd’s very positive reaction.  Great song, played well.  Why not go nuts with excitement?  Off to a very promising beginning to be sure.  Let’s keep this thing going, boys!  Just a tad into the set, they played a song of theirs that’s been getting a lot of radio play on SiriusXM’s JamOn station and as well it should.  “Black Elk” ripped open into the night taken at a quick clip, melting the gathered ice as well as the gathered faces in the crowd as one.  Jeremy Garrett threw down some crazy tasty fiddle work only to be followed by Andy Falco on guitar with some string-ninja moves of his own.  Chris Pandolfi wasn’t to be left out either, raining down note after precious note from his banjo onto the souls of the audience huddled in the freezing dark.  Wow, what a rush!  I’d never heard that one so intense and so fast before.  Really changes the fabric of the experience…I dug it. 

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

Sam Bush joined them for the next couple of numbers, starting with “Get It While You Can” and did Sammy ever get some while he could!  Let’s see…put one of the finest mando players on the planet in to guest with one of the tightest and most polished ensembles in grass music?  OK, yes, I’ll have some of that, please!  Two helpings, if I could!  And just how much do I love Andy Hall’s dobro playing?  Seriously, that man is a wizard on his instrument, one of my favorites to be sure.  Both instrument and player.  This excellent standard from the Dusters’ catalogue augmented by Mr. Bush proved to be quite the powerhouse to great approval from the crowd.  What wasn’t to love, right?  A little further into the set they gave us a fine WWG version of “A Hard Life Makes a Great Song” which should be of some hope and inspiration to us all.  When you are feeling a bit overburdened by this life, maybe this particular song could be of assistance?  I mean, at least your hard life would make a great song.  Now, if you could only get the Dusters to write it up!  So much tasty dobro in this one, too!  And where would the band be without the stalwart bass amazingenss of Travis Book?  I love the way he hauls that thing all over the stage, too.  What a workout that must be!  Not to mention his harmony work…stellar.  Certainly makes for a great grass band show, for sure!  Garrett and Falco made some supremely fine contributions of their own throughout the song, dancing in and out of the texture to take melody only to weave their way back into things as if nothing had changed.  Expert work and a pleasure to witness.  Finally, to close things down, we got some more Allman Brothers!  Indeed, so, good friends…what were the odds?  First Sammy then the Dusters?  Excellence!  The oh-so familiar strains of “Jessica” echoed out to the mountains and through the minds and joys of the crowd and we all began to dance and revel in our luck and laughter.  Nothing like hearing that well-known melody coming from a dobro, right?  Damn, Andy Hall!!  How incredible could you possibly make this one?  Pretty damn incredible as it would turn out.  Jeremy’s fiddle was afire with all sorts of insanity too, rounding things out in a delightful fashion.  And did they band jam this song, too…wow!  Everybody took a good chance to get down here, and get down they did.  A helluva supreme closer for this wonderful show!  So many big thanks going out to the band and their folks for helping to make WinterWonderGrass so amazing for its first year in Steamboat!  Loved it, guys…thank you a million times over!!

The Infamous Stringdusters

The Infamous Stringdusters

Sunday coming soon, friends!!

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Friday

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DelFest 9 - Festival Experience Archive - Friday

DelFest 9

Festival Experience Archive

for The Lot Scene by Parker

Friday Highlights

Grand Ole’ Ditch

    Up and at ‘em Friday morning, we were ready to head to the Music Hall to catch some Grand Ole’ Ditch as they held their CD release party for their new album, Unwind.  We had the distinct pleasure of reviewing Unwind over the past few weeks and really fell in love with the album.  Great new and evolved sound from this high energy Cumberland band.  It had been almost a year since I’d heard Ditch play so I was eager to hear some of these new songs live.  Immediately they launched into the semi-quiet, slowly building intro of the title and first track of the album, “Unwind”, stepping off briskly into the song proper and into Craig Miller’s vocals.  Great way to start an album and an even better way to start this particular show.  Nice crowd in for the event, too…made for quite the celebratory and festive atmosphere.  Following the album’s order, they took “Unwind” directly into “Whippoorwill” with Luke Mathews at the mic.  I like this song for its tight ensemble sound between all the members of the band…it really gives the song a nice flow to follow.  I really dig all the energy changes throughout the song as well because they make for a rich musical topography.  So far, so great.  Sounding lovely, boys!!  The instrumental “Chester’s Breakdown” followed led by Jody Mosser on dobro.  They invited the indomitable Miss Sierra Hull out on stage to join them for this one, her ever-present mandolin in hand.  Here is how that magic went: 

Love all the guesting in at DelFest!!  It can make for such marvelous moments.  Later down the set, “Fiddlin’ Ray” Bruckman stepped up to the mic for the classic cowboy-feeling song “Long to Come Home to Thee”.  Nothing but “cowtown” all over this one.  And I love it.  It sounds amazing and definitely displays some of the breadth this band has developed over the years.  Ray also delivered up some truly nice fiddle along the way, why not?  Not to mention some of that sweet, sweet dobro from Jody and some serious banjo stylings from Craig.  And let us never forget those gents who keep the whole event driving along:  Jacob Mathews on bass, Ryan Hohing on guitar, and Todd Hocherl on drums.  The Ditch Rhythm Section rolls deep, what can I say?  What a swinging and enjoyable little number start to finish.  Bravo!  One of my faves from the album, “Copper Kettle Coal” came next and was followed by “This Time” both of which sounded damn near album perfect.  And I guess that would make sense this being their release party and all.  Great job, fellas.  The band was certainly loving their time on stage, bouncing around with their instruments, et al.  Love seeing that in a band.  Nothing like watching them enjoy their profession as much as they do, shared smiles and happy energy.  Ronnie McCoury joined them for “Dragon’s Breath” with Jody on guitar instead of dobro for this number.  Hard drivin’, fast pickin’ to be sure, this is sizzling hot fiddle tune led by “Fiddlin’ Ray”.  So much good soloing throughout this one by pretty much everybody.  Ronnie sounded magnificent on his mando, of course.  That man always brings so very much to the musical table.  Bravo, good sir!  They finished off the album a bit down the way with “Foolish Pride”, Craig back on lead vocals.  Another fast-paced ride through great bluegrass, this is a perfect closer for an album and a perfect way to round things out at an album release party.  Great fiddlin’ from Ray on this one as well as some super hot dobro from Jody.  I definitely dig on the vocals in this one…a lot of vocal texture at certain points making for quite the wall of musical sound.  Good stuff.  As an encore Ditch treated us to an old Dillards' song, “Old Man at the Mill” with Jacob taking the solo for most of it.  And what a treat!!  “Ladies step forward and the gents step back!”  And, just like that, the set came to a close to great applause from all of us in the Music Hall.  Bravi to you, Ditch lads!!!  Wonderful show and wonderful time.  And not to mention the wonderful album, fellas.  (Read my review of Unwind here.)  Thanks for all the great music, once again!!  Looking forward to more, my friends!!

Grand Ole' Ditch and Ronnie McCoury

Grand Ole' Ditch and Ronnie McCoury

Fruition

    “Meet me, meet me on the mountain.  Where the wind keeps blowin’ our blues away…”  …is precisely how Fruition’s main stage set on Friday afternoon began.  “Meet Me on the Mountain” is a song they recorded with The Grant Farm on an EP called Meeting on the Mountain.  Gorgeous vocals, lovely harmonies, such soulful solo singing, heart-grabbing in-your-soul instrumental grooving.  Oh, you betcha!  That moment when the instruments enter into the equation in full force:  intensely magic.  And I could listen to Jay Cobb Anderson croon all day long.  That man has some serious pipes and knows how to use them.  We also got a delightful mandolin solo from Mimi Naja before song’s end.  Does this band know how to make a musical entrance or what?  Awesomesauceness.  So far Fruition was kicking some serious tail at their first DelFest and that should come as no surprise to any who know these astounding musicians from Portland, OR.  They followed up with “Blue Light”, a super catchy song that is a personal favorite.  And, it just so happens, we nabbed it on video for you: 

What a way to keep amping things up, right?  That’s what I thought, too.  Bonnie Paine from Elephant Revival brought her washboard out on stage to join them up next for “The Wanter”.  Who doesn’t love a little washboard in their Fruition?  Especially in the hands of someone so deft at it as Bonnie.  Mimi was at the helm of this one spanking the lead vocals summarily.  So much good energy to this one — had us all dancing where we stood.  Some really groovy guitar work from Jay, too.  Fun times all around with this song…many thanks, guys!  Tyler Thompson drummed out a mighty fine intro to the following song, the Kellen Asebroek-led “Above the Line”.  It must be mentioned here that Jeff Leonard’s ever-present foundation on bass is like a good friend who chills with you all show just hanging and never letting you down.  It’s so very nice.  There was some supremely awesome interplay between Mimi and Jay on mandolin and guitar, respectively…several very incredible musical moments.    They took “Above the Line” directly into the title track from their new album, Labor of Love, Bonnie remaining on stage for another go round.  Jay was just meant to sing songs like this.  And, believe-you-me, there is no labor in loving this band.  Whatsoever.  A little later down the set Bridget Law from Elephant Revival joined Fruition for some fun while the rain poured down on the crowd.  A lot of people scattered but so many chose to stay in the downpour and dance their faces off.  “Beside You” is a sweet and tender Mimi-led love song that cascaded gently from the speakers and splashed joyfully down upon the smiling rain-soaked masses in front of the stage.  Some very lovely harmonies await one lucky enough to hear this one.  Just delightful, really.  And that fiddle!  Thank you, Bridget!!  Wowsers.  Then the rain got even worse but the people stayed on.  Through the thunder.  Through the wind.  Through the lightning.  It was an impressive display of human dedication to music and community.  Kellen was back up to the mic for “Boil Over” which is a sizzling hot roller coaster ride through some marvelous musical mayhem.  Sounds fun, right?  Well it most certainly is.  And was.  People were going nuts in the rain to this, running around and jumping and kicking like happy horses in a pasture.  It was really happy-making to behold.  Later on down the set we got a real treat with a Led Zeppelin cover led by none other than Jay Cobb Anderson.  And he sounded magnificent on “Hey Hey What Can I Do”, I mean, just like Robert Plant.  Fruition playing Zeppelin?  Are you kidding me?  Holy goodness!!  So good!!  Kellen was back up to the mic for a song he wrote called “The Meaning” also from their new album.  It was a mild and easy-going way to end their set and perfect for the rain.  What a show from Fruition at what will only be the first of many DelFests for them!!  Way to knock it out of the park both days, you guys!!  So amazing…so many thanks to you all!!  

Fruition and Bonnie Paine

Fruition and Bonnie Paine

The Infamous Stringdusters featuring Nicki Bluhm

    Then it was time to get dusty with The Infamous Stringdusters on the main stage, DelFest-style.  The rain was still falling lightly as they took the stage, their friend and collaborative partner, Nicki Bluhm, sure to not be far behind.  Dust.  Rain.  Mud.  Let’s dust it up!!  The fellas kicked things off with a speedy “Peace of Mind”, an old favorite of mine and of many folks in the crowd who chose to sing along.  I ate up the round robin of instrumental work from man to man and back again throughout the song.  The musical texture as a result was fabulous as usual.  And those harmonies!  Some of the best vocals in the business today, in my opinion.  These boys sing and sing well!!  Big thanks to Andy Hall for just completely owning his lengthy and lovely dobro solo for me…I mean, it felt like a personal gift.  So I’m sticking to it.  The soft and sweet “Night on the River” followed “Peace of Mind” with Travis Book up to the mic for the lead vocals.  I’ll tell you what…that man can croon, too!!  And he sounded fantastic, especially juxtaposed to Jeremy Garrett’s supremely fine fiddling.  A light lucid daydream, this one, amidst the sparse droplets of water still floating down from the clearing skies.  Especially the spacey jam at the end, the kind that takes you places you want to go.  Like directly into the next song, for instance.  “Well, Well” sped the tempo back up again with Garrett taking both vocal and fiddle solos to task as the band gelled both songs together and then let rip with the new.  Chris Pandolfi threw down some serious banjo attitude on the ever-popular cover “Big River” (originally recorded by Johnny Cash and played to prominence by The Grateful Dead) which came next.  Talk about making that 5-string sing!!  Only to hand the reigns over to Hall on dobro so he could kick a little ass, too.  Love this version of this song.  So far, so wonderful with this Dusters set, huh?  We all sure thought so!  Later on down the set, Nicki did, indeed, make an appearance to sing with the gents.  “See How Far You’ve Come” was the first selection that they performed together, one of the tracks from the Dusters’ new collaborative album, Ladies & Gentlemen.  This is a gorgeous piece with lots of tasty dobro for those so inclined, which I am.  They followed this with “Run to Heaven” another track from their new album.  There is certainly a good musical marriage there between Bluhm and the Dusters.  A whole new elemental feeling is created on stage when she joins them — it’s pretty special.  Then they all channeled their inner Jefferson Airplane for a grassed-up version of “Somebody to Love” which sounded fantastic.  Bluhm simply destroyed those vocals so mad props to her, to be sure.  Andy Falco’s facial expressions during the jams on this song were priceless.  Clearly someone was having a magnificent time.  Weren’t we all?  Later on down the set we were treated to some delicious vocal harmonies in the form of a merrymaking Public Service Announcement by the name of “Let It Go”.  A super positive message of hope and help all sung to super awesome vocal music?  Why, yes, please!!  And thank you!  Then, a bit later on down the line it was time to close things out.  And just how did they decide to end their ridiculously good main stage set?  How about with a little “Fork in the Road” directly into The Dead’s “Jack Straw”?  Pretty durn sweet, huh?  And, it just so happens that we were able to get them both on video just for you!!  Also pretty durn sweet, right?  Well, here you go, good people…enjoy!! 

Many thanks to The Infamous Stringdusters and Nicki Bluhm for absolutely fabulous time!!  Cheers to one and all!!

The Infamous Strindusters

The Infamous Strindusters

The Del McCoury Band

    We walked back to the main stage area just as Del and his erstwhile band of musical magicians were firing up their set with “Traveling Teardrop Blues”, fast pickin’ abounding.  It had been a soggy day at DelFest yet spirits were all still higher than high given the influx of so much incredible string band music.  More than enough to sustain the soul for a few lifetimes, no doubt.    Rob McCoury and his brother Ronnie both had standout roles in this one complemented by Jason Carter’s fiddle stylings.  And then Mr. McCoury, Del, himself.  Where would we all be without the singing of Del McCoury?  That instantly recognizable timbre of a man whose music we love so intently.  Please, sing to us Del!!  Then it was time to slow things down a bit, waltz-style, with “Bluest Man in Town” only to speed them back up again with Scruggs’s “The Bluegrass Breakdown” which followed.  I love that good back-and-forth in a setlist from one kind of energy to the next.  So much fast and incredible musicianship in that “Breakdown”, too.  Rob was a blur on his banjo and Ronnie answered suit, mando-style.  And do you think Jason would stay silent?  Hardly!  He jumped into the fray, sawing away on that fiddle of his and kicking things into high gear.  How much fun was this??  Ronnie McCoury stepped up to the mic for the lead vocals on “Walk Out in the Rain” which came next in line that set.  Definitely a personal favorite of mine and they doled out an extremely fine version of it for us.  Besides, I just love to hear Ronnie sing, too.  He and his father sound so similar, but I understand how that goes.  And, of course, that similarity is in no way bad thing…the precise opposite, in fact.  Ronnie also decided to give us all a big ol’ mando solo while he was at it.  Hey, why not?  Supremely great stuff right there.  And now it’s time for another video!  This time?  “Limehouse Blues”, a Robbie McCoury-led instrumental piece.  Take a look and enjoy!! 

Excellence.  Just pure excellence.  But, then again, it is the Del McCoury Band we’re talking about here.  “Nashville Cats” followed “Limehouse” telling us that familiar story of music-making in Nashville and the challenges inherent therein.  Del sure hammed it up on the mic in between verses which was a hoot and holler.  How can’t you just adore that dynamic man?  A little later on in the set Alan Bartram took lead vocals for an old Hank Williams song called “You Win Again” strutting his own vocal stuff for us.  And that man sure can sing.  And that’s in a band filled with great singers.  So much different musical sound and timbre and texture from a band like this.  Ensures you could never, ever get remotely bored with their music.  Bored with Del Band??  Hardly!!  Later still down the set, they took one from their new album Del and Woody, a Woody Guthrie song called “Cornbread and Creek Water”.  Fast pickin’?  Whew!  You had best believe it!  Lots of super fast playing on this one driving it forward.  Such a pleasure and privilege to hear some of this old Guthrie come to light at the hands of The Del McCoury Band!  What a wonderful present.  Truly.  A bit down the set we were treated to some of that extremely fine and well-developed vocal harmony for which this band is almost infamous in “Count Me Out”.  Such lovely blend!  But also a song about drawing a seemingly much-needed line in the sand.  Sometimes those are necessary…even in bluegrass music.  Gorgeous song nevertheless and always a good addition to a Del Band setlist.  Next up was another song by the great Hank Williams:  “Train Wreck of Emotion”.  This one was filled with plenty of good pickin’ by one and all, making the song sing speedily along.  “I'm lyin' in the rubble cinder, smoke and ash.  My heart still poundin' from the impact of the crash.  I can see tomorrow's headlines, 'Heartbroke from blind devotion’.  Just another victim of a trainwreak of emotion.”  Now that, my friends, is some serious song-writing.  Bravo to both The Del McCoury band and Mr. Williams for such an enjoyable jaunt through emotional hard times.  Certainly proved a huge crowd pleaser to be sure.  Excellence.  “Working on a Building” made its appearance later on in the set, Del just nailing high note after high note all within a tight and polished vocal harmonic texture.  Always the catchy one, I noted many, many mouths in the crowd singing along to the words with Del and company.  We were all working on a DelFest, that was certainly the truth.  And a fan-freakin’-tastic DelFest to boot!!  Towards the close of this giant set of incredible bluegrass enjoyment and fun a couple of the true blue crowd favorites appeared on the scene.  First, “1952 Vincent Black Lightning” came roaring out to the delight of the audience.  Talk about a preferred song, eh?  Everyone went nuts as Del invited us all to sing along.  We do love our “Vincent” after all.  It sounded just as wonderful as always, that tragic tale of love and motorbikes.  Which certainly prepared us all for the closing “All Aboard” which came a little later on.  As intense and explosive as ever, this one threw us all into a dancing frenzy as we listened to the entire band just nail this one to the wall (as usual).  What a way to end an incredible show such as this!!  No surprises here…just super happy and satisfied bluegrass fans.  The best kind, right?  A HUGE thanks to Mr. McCoury and his stupendous band for all of the amazing we just soaked in from that stage.  The reason for this fest in the first place, it is always a privilege and honor to see Del play alongside his sons and the rest of the band.  Bravi to you all, gentleman, and thanks again.  What a weekend so far and it was only halfway through!!  How exciting to think of Saturday and Sunday to come…but you’ll just have to wait a spell, alright?    

The Del McCoury Band

The Del McCoury Band

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

Keep your eyes peeled for Saturday and Sunday coverage coming your way soon!!

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