Thursday, December 18, 2014

Gibson Family Christmas & Getting There Through Vermont & NY

We've traveled to Ellenburg, New York for the Gibson Brothers annual Christmas show in their home town high school, Northern Adirondack Central School. December in New England and The North Country of New York is always problematic, and we prepare for cold as well as ice and snow. People who live in the North Country know how to stay warm and, generally not let the weather keep them from living their life, There was a pretty good snowfall north and west of our home in Keene, NH on Thursday, so the plows had had time to do their work. The roads were generally clear, giving us a winter wonderland drive along the 218 miles to Ellenburg,

Ludlow, Vermont

When you listen to the national weather forecasts, you often hear references to upstate New York, but to New Yorkers upstate generally means "Not New York City," which gives you little idea of the variety of terrain, cultures, and opportunity New York offers. North of the state capital in Albany lies the massive Adirondack Park (the biggest piece of wilderness east of the Mississippi, designated "forever wild" in the 1892 state constitution. We skirted the Adirondacks, driving north beside Lake Champlain to Plattsburgh, where we checked into our hotel, and then west across the southernmost reaches of the desolate Canadian shield, a rocky substructure extending to Hudson Bay the Arctic Ocean. The former Gibson Family farm (The Farm of Yesterday) lies a mile or so South of the border, as does Northern Adirondack Central School.

The Mountains Rise from the Champlain Valley Along NY 22

Lake Champlain

The Adirondacks Rise to the West

While Farms Still Exist, Wind Farming is Now the 
Big Industry Between the Adirondacks & the Border

WAMU's Bluegrass Country, the forty year old 24/7 bluegrass radio station's drive time DJ is two time IBMA Broadcaster of the Year Katy Daley's musical home. She's a native Washingtonian who thinks that snowfall requires rubber boots enough to get her to the car in order to drive to the basement garage of WAMU for her daily show. She and Shannon Gibson, the matriarch of the Gibson Family have become fast friends. Katy is here for a week of Pie Camp, rest, and to emcee the show.

Katy Daley & Shannon Gibson in the Kitchen

Shannon Gibson

Northern Adirondack Central School

Well....the picture above is the best one I could find, but on December 13 it's all surrounded by snow, and the wind comes sharply across a couple of thousand miles between Ellenburg and the North Pole. But North Country people are a hardy bunch. The Gibson Family Christmas brought a sell-out standing room only crowd of around 600 on a cold evening to welcome this popular family which has lived nearby since the turn of the last century. The auditorium was warm and comfortable in every sense. It was so crowded that a dozen chairs were placed at the back of the stage to provide additional seating. 

A Packed House

Gibson Family Christmas Set 1, Part 1 - Video

Sam Zuchinni & Kelley Gibson Warming Up

Brother and sister Tom Venne & Julie Hogan are the principals in a regional Plattsburgh band called Beartracks. Well known in the North Country and New England, they play a pleasing mix of bluegrass and classic country. Their country band, The Clem Hawkins Revival, featuring Eric Gibson on the electric guitar, plays around the area when Eric is available. They can be seen at the Wednesday evening Pot Luck supper at Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival.
Tom Venne

Julie Hogan

 Kelley, Eric & Leigh Gibson

Leigh Gibson

Mike Barber

Eric Gibson

Kelley Gibson (Eric's Son)

Leigh, Eric & Kelley

Mike Barber

Eric & Leigh

Erin Gibson LaClair - The First Noel - Video

Julie Hogan, Tom Venne & Leigh Gibson

Eric Gibson & His Other Guitar

Leigh, Tom & Jule

Tom Venne & Julie Hogan

Gibson Family Christmas Set 1, Part III - Video

The Merch Table

Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Looking Back on 2014 - Part II

April through June finds us wending our way North. After spending the end of March in Nashville, mostly to attend IBMA's Leadership Bluegrass, we headed over to Shelby, NC to spend a couple of restorative weeks at our "lake cottage" on John H. Moss Reservoir, spending time with all the friends we've made there through the years. The highlight was our first visit to the newly opened Earl Scruggs Center, a state of the art museum devoted to the life and career of iconic bluegrass banjo player Earl Scruggs and the region which nourished his particular sound. The Scruggs Center joins The International Bluegrass Music Museum in Owensboro, KY, The Bill Monroe Homeplace Jerusalem Ridge near Rosine, KY, and the Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintonwood, VA as places where those seeking to capture the essence of bluegrass music in its historical and cultural matrix must visit.

Marta Jones, Irene, and Emily Epley (Museum Director)
You could spend hours with this interactive musical table!

On the Road with Flatt & Scruggs

Irene, Marta Jones & Me 
Plaque devoted to Dr. Bobby Jones (Tom Bibey) in Background

Big Lick Bluegrass Festival

We attended the Big Lick Bluegrass Festival in Norwood, NC for the first time this year. This is a growing festival featuring a solid lineup located in rural North Carolina. Promoter Jeff Branch has worked hard to develop this traditional festival held in a pleasant part with primitive camping facilities, good vendors, and lots of jamming.

Nothin' Fancy
Jesse Smathers, Tony Shorter, Mike Andes, Chris Sexton

Mike Andes

Renaissance Bluegrass Band
Bethel University

Jim Fraley

John Marquess - James King Band

Willow Oak Bluegrass Festival - Roxboro, NC

Promoter Mike Harris continues to improve the site at Willow Oak Music Park and the lineup along with it. While grounded in traditional bluegrass, this former member of The Bass Mountain Boys, is always looking for a strong alternative fitting within the bluegrass matrix while offering bands and music in the pocket for the mostly traditional fans who attend this festival. Held the same weekend as Merlefest, Willow Oak provides a wonderful alternative for those who prefer their bluegrass in a quieter and more manageable (as well as less expensive) setting.

Mike Harris with the Malpass Brothers

Melvin Goins

Marc Pruett - Balsam Range

Darren Nicholson - Balsam Range

Old Reb

Dave Adkins Waiting for His Partner

Edgar Loudermilk

Dave Adkins

Alan Bibey - Grasstowne

Shannon Slaughter - Grasstowne

Steve Dilling - Sideline

Darrell Webb - Sideline

Greg Luck - Sideline

Linda Dilling

Junior Sisk - Junior Sick & Ramblers Choice

Jason Tomlin - Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Jamie Harper - Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

James King

Houston Fest
Sierra Hull

HoustonFest is a youth oriented two day festival dedicated to the life and enthusiasm of the late Houston Caldwell. It's filled with wonderful young groups on the cusp of moving into the larger bluegrass world, characteristic old-time music found in the Galax area, and first class bluegrass performers. If you're the kind of bluegrass fan who likes to look to the future, this is one for you.

Jake Stargell - Sierra Hull Band

Marc Pruett & Tim Surett - Balsam Range

Dr. Ralph Stanley

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival
 Pete Wernick's Jam Camp

Gettysburg is one of the Bucket List festivals on the east coast despite the almost certain interference of bad weather, the combination of music, setting, crowd and vibe win out to create a wonderful effect for all who attend. 

Rebecca Frazier

Chris Eldridge - Guest with Seldom Scene

Fred Travers - Seldom Scene

Ben & Chris Eldridge - Seldom Scene

Clay Hess

Irl Hees - Clay Hess Band

Claire Lynch

Blake Johnson - IIIrd Tyme Out

Russell Moore - IIIrd Tyme Out

Strawberry Park
Mike Armistead - Tennessee Mafia Jug Band

Strawberry Park had a learning year in 2014 with its campground under new management unfamiliar with bluegrass music and bluegrass culture. However, even before the event ended last year, they were working to build and improve. Nevertheless, there were still highlights and personalities to feature there.

Tim St. Jean

Gale Wade

Nora Jane Struthers

Carol Young - The Greencards

Kym Warner - The Greencards

Ivy & David Shepherd - South Carolina Broadcasters

Kim Ford & Jim Beaver - Emcees

Bruce Stockwell - Hot Mustard

Dan Russell - Dry Branch Fire Squad

Adam Haynes & Danny Roberts - The Grascals

Bryan McDowell - The Claire Lynch Band

Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival
Alan Bartram (The Travelin McCourys) with Promoter Candi Sawyer

The Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival has emerged as one of New England's strongest events. Combining lots of jamming, youth activities, a fine band contest, kids academy, bluegrass university, very good vendors, and an always fine lineup all nestled in the heart of Vermont's Green Mountains, this is a fine event.

Aaron Foster
A Child of Jenny Brook & Director of the Kids Academy

The Clem Hawkins Revival Band
A Classic Country Band for the Wednesday Pot Luck

The Church Sisters

Sarah Amos - Bob Amos and Catamount Crossing

Bob Amos - Bob Amos & Catamount Crossing

Chris Hill -  Feller & Hill

Tom Feller - Feller & Hill

Brandon Rickman - Lonesome River Band

Randy Jones - Lonesome River Band

Cory Zinc

Rick & Allen Spinney - The Spinney Brothers

Eric Gibson - The Gibson Brothers

Jesse Brock - The Gibson Brothers

Clayton Campbell - The Gibson Brothers

Jason Carter - The Travelin' McCourys

The Travelin McCourys have emerged as the best of the current crop of side project bands touring these days. Not content to play standards well, they've included lots of new music composed by band members and worked hard to develop a unique band sound, although they do continue to vary depending on who comes along as the guitar player.

Jeff Autry - Travelin McCourys

Jason Carter & Rob McCoury

Ron McCoury

Gary Hultman - The Boxcars

Harold Nixon - The Boxcars

The Gibson Brothers Sign with Rounder Records
Marion Levy, Leigh & Eric Gibson, Ken Irwin

More next week. Enjoy!

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