Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival 2011

I've seen a lot of concerts.  Not as many as some, but more than most.  Several hundred over the years and I have never been to a festival much less a Bluegrass festival.  I love lots of music...classic rock, blues, country (real country) but I have only really given bluegrass a chance over the past few years.  My first exposure was to non-traditional forms that were bluegrass in spirit but not in practice...String Cheese Incident, Railroad Earth, some Dead.  I was open all these years but the traditionalists didn't do it for me.  I was more Willie and Waylon than Flatt & Scruggs.

I saw The SteelDrivers on the Opry and that changed things.  They played the traditional instruments but with a more soulful sound.  Hard to describe and instantly addictive.  I soon discovered Sam Bush on and I was off.  I would say may taste runs more towards Newgrass and Jamgrass but to me there should be room at the table for all flavors so I decided to pack up the wife and son and head out to this year's festival (my daughter wants no part of camping or bluegrass).

We had the pop-up set up about half way back by 3:30 on Wednesday and the first thing that strikes you is the number of folks pickin'.  The talent level was amazing, in fact the group behind us was as good as many of the acts featured on the festival stages.  A few beer, some great music, I was beginning to lose my apprehensions about camping in a field for 4 nights.  A word about the camping...outhouses (clean), pay showers (hot), water trucks when you run out, ice for can make do quite easily.  There were tons of vendors selling food, beer, instruments, clothing, whatever you need and there are several places close by to get what you run out of.  We enjoyed the open mic night and generally soaked up the good vibes until late in the evening.

There were artists for everyone to enjoy whether you were a traditionalist (Del McCoury) or a pickin' hippie (Yonder Mountain).  Great music was to be found all through the day and night on the main stage and at the other stages set up around the festival.  In fact some of the best performances were in the dance tent.  Some highlights for me...

Greensky Bluegrass - I've been a fan the past couple of years and they did not disappoint either in the Master's tent or on the main stage headlining Thursday night.  Great playing from a band that is not afraid to jam a bit.

The Dirty Hillbenders - Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen along with the Hillbenders (a big surprise) ripped it up in the dance tent on Friday afternoon.  Crossroads was just sick...

The SteelDrivers - two sets on Friday were a highlight for me.  The set in the dance tent was fantastic and folks were dancing up storm and singing along.  The main stage set was right up there.  Love this band and they haven't missed a step with Gary Nichols taking over on vocals and guitar.

The Infamous Stringdusters - Love these guys.  I first saw them with Railroad Earth in Williamsburg back in 2010.  They get some shit about playing with and for the rock crowd.  This is a load of crap because these guys can flat out play.  Yes they jam a bit but the songs are top notch.  Catch them if you can in the future.

Sam Bush - I've seen Sam a few times and he never disappoints.  Traditional bluegrass in the Master's tent and Newgrass on the main stage.

These were just a few highlights of many.  So much great music around you it is impossible to see and hear everything so you have to pick and choose.  After the "official" music ended there were many late night jams around the farm that were often times quite good.  A music lovers dream come true.

You may not think you are a bluegrass fan but I encourage you to check this festival out.  You just might find out you are.  I'll be back next year...

1 comment:

  1. Just found your blog. Glad you like our little party in the Catskills. Hope ya come back next year. I'm one of the volunteers (medical group) and plan my year around this event. It has the nicest people attending and we always have a good time. Check some of the Master's tent action next time, you might be surprised.
    Look me up if you come back. I'll be the only EMT there with a banjo belt buckle.
    Glad you enjoyed the party.