Saturday, November 7, 2009
Carolina Road Tenth Anniversary Homecoming - Friday
The festival opened with a very affecting rendition of the National Anthem by Glen Harrell of Volume 5 on fiddle. Simple and spare, the anthem could not have been presented with greater taste of more effectiveness. This characterizes much of what this new band, whose members hail from Alabama and Mississippi manages in their performance. Composed of young men who have had wide experience as side men and session players, Volume 5 has been out for less than a year and is beginning to be heard from. Although they do not yet have an Internet presence, they have put our their first CD and are worth hearing. They present a variety of well-chosen covers as well as a few of their own songs. They have the requisite drive and sound to have a good impact on audiences and leaven their performance with both humor and intensity. They were certainly my surprise band for the day, and I expect they'll hold that position for the entire festival.
Jerry Butler & The Blu-J's
This very fine band has been formed as a spin-off from Carolina Road by Jerry Butler and John Wade. Since their first appearance in this configuration only a month ago at Bell Buckle and then their attention catching appearances in after hours and off-campus showcases at IBMA, this band has only become tighter and more effective. Butler, whose work in several bands has always garnered attention, shows his chops as a band leader and emcee while continuing to provide excellent lead singing. The band is strong at every position featuring strong ensemble performances and a commitment to working as a unit. Keep an eye on this band!
Jason Frailey & John Wade
A North Carolina band, Carolina Sonshine presents a pleasing combination of gospel music, Country Gentlemen covers, band compositions, and baggy pants comedy which strikes all the notes of a traditional bluegrass performance. Danny Stanley's fine baritone voice is well suited to covering Charlie Waller, and he does very good impressions of the likes of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and others in his personna as Hobo Joe. Dennis Cash and Tom Langdon are able multi-instrumentalists giving the band good versatility. Jon Johannsen on fiddle adds a welcome sound to the band. Wayne Ratley is strong on bass. They have achieved increasing visibility as seen in their showcase at IBMA and multiple nominations for Gospel Group of the Year at SPBGMA.
Al Batten and David Turnage formed The Bluegrass Reunion around forty years ago. In the years since, they have become and remained a standout regional band. They stand as one of those bands that could, had they chosen to, have become a noted national band, but instead have chosen to remain closer to home providing high quality entertainment and first rate music. Each of the individuals in the band is a standout. They work together with precision and enthusiasm, and, with Batten's amusing patter, never fail to entertain and amuse. The recent appearances of eleven year old Nathan Aldridge on fiddle with them helps assure a next generation of this band.
Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road
This performance of Carolina Road essentially represents the final show to be given by the band configuration that's been seen over the past few years. Saturday will introduce the new band going forward along with a retrospective program featuring most of the past members of the band. Lorraine, despite battling laryngitis, gave a strong performance, supported by all band members picking up extra duty to support her weakened voice. The set featured many of the standards from their recent shows as well as Josh Goforth offering a couple of songs I wasn't familiar with. They were well received by the audience, some of whom were ready for more when the festivities ended at 11:00 PM