Wintergrass Review - Father and daughter. Long post...
- This is a bit long folks...
Well, Wintergrass is now over. Here is a review by my daughter and
myself about the goin's on and our first year attending.
This was one memorable event for my daughter, wife and I. I took my 3
boys too, but they don't care much for bluegrass right now (looks like
my 16 year old is going to volunteer next year though, he was drafted
to help out the last day). Lots of good pickin', fantastic shows and
some of the nicest people 'ya ever met.
Mountain Heart, although Steve Gulley couldn't sing (was getting over
the crud that Rhonda Vincent and Tony Rice seem to have) the music and
other vocals were fantastic. Barry was excellent on the banjo, Jim
playing superbly on his fiddle, Clay Johnny on the bass with the
unequalled Adam Steffey. Lots of fast picking and a singin'. I was
lucky to catch 3 of their shows and later met them. Great guys and
excellent musicians. 3 of them Tarheels too!
Grascals, the first show we attended, driving bluegrass, fine
instrumentals and singing, plenty of humor too. No wonder Dolly picked
them to back her up, lots of talent there. My wife went and bought
their album right after the show and had it autographed for me as a
present. They had quite a talk with her, apparently about men,
bluegrass and having lots of musical instruments (go figure ), another
Seldom Scene, they put on a great show, not as fine as other I've
attended but well worth it. With Ben Eldridge as the only original
member they have gone thru many changes over the years but still have
the heart and soul of bluegrass in every note they play.
King Wilke, great traditional bluegrass by a crop of young musicians
who are only gonna get better. These boys know their `grass. IBMA
Emerging artist of the year 2004.
Reeltime Travelers, playing their own flavor of old Southern
Appalachian style of music. Pre-bluegrass, they have a sound straight
out of the deep Blue Ridge Mountains. Reminiscent of my days as a kid
visiting relatives and their friends back in the NC/Tenn hills when
they'd get together for a bit of evening pickin'. Special treat was
when fiddler Heidi Amdrade kicked up her heels for some memorable
clogging. It's hard to keep seated listening to these guys. One of my
Tony Rice Unit, fantastic playing, excellent band. Tony was sick so
very few vocals (he talked a little bit but was almost totally
voiceless) but who cared. This was one of the best shows IMHO. Bryn
Bright (Two High String Band) was unreal, she played some the best
bass (150+ years old) I have ever heard, quite a talent (I think I'm
in love...). Rickie Simkins on his Loar F-5 mando and fiddle has to be
one of the best players around. Tony and his brother Wyatt held the
fort with excellent guitar playing each alternating between lead and
Dave Grisman Quintet; not bluegrass, but the members of DGQ are some
of the best most talented set of musicians out there. "Dawg"
at it'sbest. Styles from bluegrass, gypsy, swing and Django tinted
jazz. A superb player, Joe Cravin played everything from a dixie cup,
bongos, vocals, fiddle and mandolin all excellently. Enrique Coria, a
native of Argentina, on steel and classical brought a flavor and
talent to this group which complemented the Dawg style in a way that
had to be heard. Jim Kewin on and Matt Eakle playing the flute and
BASS flute (it's big!). David Grisman played like the genius he is, a
mando player that can play anything. Maria Mudaur, with her bluegrass
experience with Grisman dating back to 1962 also came on for a couple
songs to make it not just a Dawg instrumental show but one with some
Peter Rowan / Tony Rice Quartet at the Gibson Church were my favorite
by far. The voice of a Peter Rowan is a national treasure. With his
own mix of folk, bluegrass Tex-Mex, and jazz-rock this was truly one
memorable show. Opening with "Panama Red" and finishing up with "Wild
Mustang" (both now my daughter's favorites) they played most of the
songs off the new Rice / Rowan CD "You Were There for Me". With all of
the Tony Rice Unit but Wyatt, they played flawlessly. Tony's playing
the guitar as amazingly as only Mr. Rice can, Bryn and Rickie adding
bass/mando/fiddle to a acoustic sound that was absolutely beautiful,
with Peter's singing to make it one show I will never forget.
Grisman / Rice, a duo of two of the best musician there are, period.
Bluegrass, a bit of Dawg, these guys were playing like they were
connected at the head. TIGHT!!! David drops my jaw every time I see
him play and with Tony it was like going to musical heaven. Our seats
were on the left side about 8 feet from the stage, David Grisman
smiled several times at my mando carrying daughter curled up next to
me watching in the performance in awe. Later on, I caught him making a
few suggestive leers at my wife when she came over to sit with us. I
thought it was my imagination until my wife mentioned it me on at the
hotel that night. What's up with that David?
The Bluebirds (Linda Ronstadt, Laurie Lewis and Maria Muldaur), a
special one time collaboration of some really great female vocalists
backed by Laurie's Guesthouse Band. Not all bluegrass, maybe a bit
rough on the edges at times, they sang together with some really
beautiful harmonies. Linda, got a standing ovation with the second
song they played, her voice is still one of my favorite sounds,
sending chills up my spine with her power. Maria Muldaur, without
whose work this would never have happened, sang and led the show with
her commitment to making this a fine show. Laurie's singing with her
IBMA award winning voice and also playing a mean fiddle was the real
bluegrass heart of the group. An unlikely collaboration but one that
worked. I would love to see these folks keep it up and make an album.
Later when I talked with Maria, she hoped it could happen if they
could get more material. GO FOR IT.
Our Personal Highlights:
Taking my daughter to the first Wintergrass Kid's Academy where she
had a great time with the other kids. My 9 year old son couldn't make
it as they were all booked up. She had also hoped to play in Chick
Kids Sat/Sun but due to the transportation situation (10 min - 1 hr+
waits for the shuttle at times) she missed the workshop. We decided to
go see Mountain Heart, King Wilke, Reeltime Traveler and Peter Rowan /
Tony Rice in the sold out Gibson church. Must have been fate because
we ended up with 1st row balcony seats and 4 great shows.
Meeting Mountain Heart and talking a bit about NC, southern food &
Carolina bluegrass with Clay Jones and Jim VanCleve. My wife later had
them all autograph a picture to me and they all signed my daughter's
mando too. Great guys and real gentlemen. Pretty durn funny too.
Seeing Peter Rowan and also talking with him about singing and
songwriting after the Grisman / Rice show with him. A truly great man
with a phenomenal voice who was very nice to take up his time with us.
He also signed my daughter's mando with his name and little heart,
she was speechless (not a common occurrence for an 11 year old girl).
Nice guy and what a legend.
Standing quietly with David Grisman while he watched some of the jams
by himself. He turned and said hi, are you enjoying the festival, then
just as we were stating to converse he was accosted by his manager and
several Wintergrass staff. Maybe next time...
Spending a little time with Rickie Simkins and Bryn Bright after the
Tony Rice Unit show and later after the Rowan / Rice show. Talking
about their instruments, living in Texas and seeing his amazing Loar
F-5. No, I didn't touch it (didn't want to suck away the talent inside
that box) but it was inches from my face. The holy grail of mandos for
sure. They posed for a picture and also signed their album and
Meeting Maria Muldaur and Laurie Lewis after the Bluebirds show. I
spent quite a bit of time talking with Maria and also encouraging her
to keep up the Bluebirds. She is one fantastic person and committed
musician. We can only hope for more Bluebirds in the future. Maria and
Laurie not only signed my daughter's mando but they both also posed
with her (and mando) for several pictures with some photographer at
their manager's request. He came over and asked if she would like to
be in some pictures with them, we never even asked. We did get a
couple of our own too though after that.
For me, Jamming on guitar in public in the Pavilion with a couple
great folks from Federal Way who helped me lose my insecurity. Started
with those 2 and ended up with several other folks jamming for over an
hour. My first public jam on guitar. Later on over the weekend I felt
enough confidence to participate and although not always playing real
good. Singing has always easy for me but this was special since I
finally played the guitar too. Maybe next time I'll try my mando.
For my daughter, meeting and becoming friends with the Reeltime
Travelers. After my wife took her over to meet them after their first
show, it seems that Gil had stuck around gotten to know the band and
especially Martha Scanlan. Every time she saw Gil, at lunch, walking
down the hall, in the lobby or after a show she came over to greet her
by name, say hello and talk to her. Gil's new best friend.
Wintergrass had of so much great music, with a lot of fun jamming and
one of the best experiences my daughter and I have had in many years
if not one of the best period.
See `ya there next year!!!
Gillian and Barry Chalcroft