Friday, November 13, 2009
Carolina Road Tenth Anniversary Homecoming - Saturday
Saturday at Lorraine Jordan's Tenth Anniversary Homecoming was less a bluegrass festival than an opportunity to celebrate the development of Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road's growth over its ten year history and to showcase the newest version of the band. Groups performing at the event were selected for having at least one member who had played for Carolina Road during the past decade as well as to provide a program of mostly traditional bluegrass music. Playing to a home crowd composed mostly of the band's long time friends and family, the event elicited a warm and enthusiastic response throughout the day, culminated by an extended grand finale in which former members played together in various combinations presenting a wide selection of songs from the Carolina Road catalog.
Bertie Sullivan Hosting Band FeudDamascus Ridge, Carolina Sonshine, and The Churchmen each presented a set of gospel music. The three bands demonstrated some of the wide range of directions bluegrass gospel can take.
The rest of the afternoon and early evening consisted of sets by local, regional, and national bluegrass bands, all of whom contained players who had been members of Carolina Road for at least a brief time, even if they were used as substitutes. Two local bands, which we have seen in several venues in North Carolina over the past few years impressed with their continued development. Carolina Junction, with the addition of Julie Elkin on banjo, showed the effects of hard work in the increased tightness and broader range of their presentation, which, thankfully, moved off toward the progressive side during their very good set. Constant Change has also continued to become tighter and more interesting.
The Mark Newton Band
The Mark Newton Band presented a solid set of songs from Mark's "Hillbilly Hemingway" CD as well as earlier ones and highlighted their upcoming appearance at the Graves Mountain Festival coming in the Spring. Newton's current band is distinguished by a feature being seen increasingly in first rate bluegrass bands, as he currently is working with three women in the band. Jenni Gardner, playing her Chestnut mandolin, is a standout as is Beth Lawrence on bass. Gina Britt Tew, one of the originators of the Daughters of Bluegrass concept, is always reliable on banjo. She's decided to devote herself to being a Mom and is missed on the bluegrass trail. Her husband, Tim Tew, is fine on the Dobro.
Gina Britt Tew
After years of recognition as a first rate traditional singer in other people's bands, Junior Sisk reformed his earlier band Ramblers Choice and in 2009 had a breakthrough year, garnering four nominations from IBMA. This year he has come into his own as a major national band, surrounding himself with fine side men and continuing to work closely with his cousin Timmy Massey on bass, who writes many of the fine songs this band features. Jason Tomlin, replacing the superbly talented Chris Harris on mandolin, has come into his own with the band. Billy Hawks is always more than competent on fiddle, a real force on the instrument while never seeming to intrude. Darrell Wilkerson is strong and reliable on banjo.
The Ten Year Reunion Show
During its ten year history the Carolina Road Band has gone through a number of developments, usually improving itself with each change. The 2006 - 2009 band has generally been seen as the strongest version yet. Recently, Lorraine Jordan has signed a recording contract with Rural Rhythm Records and re-styled herself as the "Lady of Tradition." This has necessitated changes in personnel to fit in with her more traditional commitment to "hard driving Monroe-style" bluegrass music with herself as lead singer. She has added Dustin Benson on guitar and bass and Brad Hunter on bass and Dobro, giving her increased versatility to go along with Josh Goforth's virtuoso work on fiddle and finger style guitar and Ben Greene's always steady Scruggs style banjo. The tenth year anniversary provided Lorraine with an opportunity to introduce the new band to her friends and fans, bid farewell to Jerry Butler and John Wade, who are leaving, and celebrate the accomplishments of other former members.
Some Former and Present Members of Carolina Road
David Guthrie, Tim Massey, Rick Pardue
Keith Thomas, Doug Driskell, Dan Wells
Daughters of Bluegrass
Gina Britt, Lorraine Jordan, Annette Kelley, Beth Lawrence
Jerry Butler and Spencer Mobley
Johnny Ridge, Dennis Cash, Ben Greene, Jerry Butler, Spence Mobley
Sherry Boyd and Buddy Michaels
Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road - 2010
Royce and Janis Jordan - Proud Parents
Lorraine with Volunteers and Staff
Lorraine Jordan and the Carolina Road Band