We spent the weekend with friends at the Marshall Bluegrass Festival. Burke and Tina Cole put on this Michigan festival annually, and bill it as “The Peoples festival”. True to form, many great Michigan pickers populated the campgrounds. In fact, I believe Burke had the largest crowd I’ve seen there since they moved the festival to the Calhoun County Fairgrounds in Marshall. The line-up included Michigan and Ohio musicians; NewFound Road, a national touring band, also appeared. We couldn’t get there until Friday morning, so we missed Thursday evenings performances.
I visited just for a few minutes with Tim Shelton, who gave no hint that Rob Baker was leaving NFR. An interesting replacement was announced on the NFR website, and I read it last night. Rob’s replacement? Joe Booher, who we’ve seen playing with his parents and brothers for the past few years. While I’m guessing that the Boohers are very proud of their children, I’m betting they’ll be missing them in the family band. Their other son, Jamey recently joined Grasstowne. Do you know any other parents with two children in nationally touring bluegrass bands? (Sandy and Jere Cherryholmes don’t count on this question). I’m guessing that if I lived in East Tennessee around Johnson City, and wanted to learn how to play bluegrass music, I head over to the Booher’s house.
Sometime on Saturday Mike Kegley, who plays mandolin with the Spanky Moore band, announced that it was our anniversary and that our friends the Yates’s anniversary is next Wednesday. Then they played a nice song for us. I’m told that Vernon McIntyre’s band also did one, but I think I was holding someone’s cute baby at the time. (Sorry guys, I usually pay better attention.) We seem to be hitting the song jackpot this year, how nice of the bands. On August first, say happy anniversary to Jerry and Ada Yates, and their daughter and her husband, Jeff and Lorena Tuttle.
Back to the festival, which we really enjoyed, especially the band scramble. Jamming was everywhere. Jeremy Cole was playing with Harbourtown, on the banjo. I added him to my list. List, you say? Yes, somewhere around here is a short list of banjo players who can sing, and continue to play while doing so. Not a chord or a lick at the end of each phrase, but continue playing. There aren’t many, and he’s one.
Tim Ellis came to the festival with his band, reformed after Freddie Harris moved on. It includes Joe Smith on guitar, Matt Thacker on bass, Mitch Manns on mandolin, Dave Moore, Jr. on fiddle and Tim on banjo. Individually and collectively, these guys can pick and sing. They are playing under the name of Bandurra Bridge.
Jesse Manns joined the band for a song or two. He also played in the band scramble; his group took second place.
I’ll post Papa’s photos later today, if all goes well, watch for them!
We finished up Saturday listening to some friends pick and sing. On the way home Sunday morning, Papa said, “Do you know what we’re doing today?” All I could think about was wash, cleaning Lex, editing photographs, getting ready for next weekend, but Papa said, “Starting on the next thirty-eight years.” So, that must be what we’re doing.