Escapes or Escapades???

The temps are rising in Arizona, so I’m thankful for the opportunity to escape back East for a couple of weeks to perform at some festivals as well as do a show at Jalopy Theater in Brooklyn. Hope to catch up with many friends and fellow music lovers while I’m there. Be sure to stop by and say “Hi!” at Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival. I’ll be there with the Barnstormers on Father’s Day. Next stop is Jalopy on Friday, 6/20. The show starts at 9:00. Jalopy is one of those rare places where music just “happens.” If you haven’t been there, then shame on you! Check out their new trailer on YouTube. Winding up the eastern stops is the wild and woody Smoked Country Jam in Cross Fork, PA. We’ll be performing on Saturday, 6/21 at 2:00 and 7:00. Sure hope to run into you at one or all of these escapades!

Roaring Times in April

April roared in like a lion with shows in New York and Arizona. We packed the Good Coffeehouse at The Old Stone House in Brooklyn – standing room only! It was great to see so many familiar faces and meet some new folks. Spring in the Big Apple is such a special time of year but I sure was glad to return home to the warm temperatures!

Last weekend was the Marana Bluegrass Festival and boy! did we have some fun there. I brought along two fiddlers and managed to talk the Rolland brothers into joining us on stage for a Fiddling Round Robin. These Round Robins are always such crowd pleasers and the Marana audience ate it up with a spoon! Great times and looking forward to more. Check out our Event Calendar and be sure to say “Howdy!” when you see us at the next festival.

Dreams Come True at Blythe Festival

Tribute to Flint Hill Special featuring Johnny Miller on banjo, Glenn Wilburn on guitar, Ben Sandoval on bass, and Billy Parker on mandolin

Tribute to Flint Hill Special featuring Johnny Miller on banjo, Glenn Wilburn on guitar, Ben Sandoval on bass, and Billy Parker on mandolin

Kicking off the 2014 season at the Blythe Bluegrass Festival was an awesome experience! Over 7,500 bluegrass lovers turned up and the energy was incredible. I know I sure felt charged up when I was on stage performing. And the interest in workshops was so heartwarming. I’m used to having maybe 10 or so people in a workshop, but over 25 closed ranks around my assigned area and listened in rapt attention…it was a former school teacher’s dream!

It was great to see tributes to the original host band, Colorado River Band, as well as to Flint Hill Special. One of the Barnstormers, Billy Parker, was invited to perform with Flint Hill Special and Glenn Wilburn joined us on stage for one song as well. It was great to see Ben Sandoval knocking it back on bass as well as Johnny Miller on banjo. But the highlight was having Francis Rodriguez, the last surviving member of Colorado River Band, sing along for one number. To have these local pioneers of bluegrass assembled on stage was just a dream come true for me. I never get tired of swapping stories with these guys!

I can certainly see why this festival is one of the biggest in the US. The stages were great, sound was excellent, lots of vendors, fantastic location along the Colorado River; everything was handled perfectly by the promoters and it was a real pleasure to be there.  Be sure to add it to your calendar for next January!

Jammin’ Times at the Jamboree

Wow! What a great crowd at the Park Slope Bluegrass, Old-Time Music Jamboree this year. Seems like everyone came and, from the looks of it, they all had a good time. I know I sure did! 2013 marked the 20th anniversary as a bandleader for me and getting together with so many of the folks that have performed on CDs over the years with James Reams & The Barnstormers was a highlight for me. I can’t remember when I had so much fun! And I always look forward to the Brown Jug Award presentation, but this year was extra special too as we honored Carol Beaugard for her tremendous contributions to bluegrass – not just in the northeast, but worldwide with her syndicated Lonesome Pine RFD radio show. Mark your calendars for 2014. We’ll be celebrating the event’s 15th anniversary on Sept. 26th and 27th. You’re not going to want to miss this one!

P.S.  Photos from the 2013 Jamboree are posted on the website under the Jamboree Menu, check ‘em out!

A Golden Opportunity

I am so looking forward to the Bluegrassin’ in the Foothills festival in Plymouth, CA this weekend! I start getting antsy to perform after hanging around the house all week. From what I hear, just about everybody in the California bluegrass scene will be at this event which should make for some fun times. If you’re in the area, be sure to stop by. There’s lots going on at the event itself. I’m even leading a songwriting workshop! Located in the heart of gold country, Plymouth is just a few miles east of Sacramento. Bring your family and friends, instruments and gold panning pans, who knows, you might have a golden moment with one of them!

Pounding It In Prescott

Prescott Bluegrass FestivalIf you missed the Prescott Bluegrass Festival this past weekend, then shame on you. It was a terrific event held right on the historic courthouse square. I don’t know how many people showed up, from where I was standing on stage it looked like thousands of smiling faces! This truly was a family friendly event. Lots of youngsters got their first taste of bluegrass…and they LIKED it!! And that sure brings a smile to my face!Kidding Around in Prescott

We debuted an original tune written by our banjo player, Tyler James, at Sunday’s show and the crowd ate it up. Plus our mandolin player, Billy Parker, had a chance to show off his vocal skills on a solo performance. Blaine Sprouse was amazing and the band’s rendition of “Jerusalem Ridge” had the crowd on their feet and roaring approval.

Redbird Boots And speaking of debuts, my one-of-a-kind custom made boots from PK Bootmakers in Prescott made their debut on stage this weekend. They were like wearing kid gloves and so danged comfortable I may just sleep with my boots on! A special thank you to Paul Krause for making them for me. It’s an honor to wear these works of art.

It was great to escape the heat of the Valley for the weekend and just hang out with bluegrass followers and fellow musicians. Prescott really knows how to put on a show. Our hats are off to the Prescott Chamber of Commerce and especially Scott Currey. Well done!happy fans in Prescott

Rocky Mountain High

palisade collage

 

The Palisade Bluegrass and Roots Festival in Colorado this weekend was awesome. Everyone was so friendly and welcoming, we felt right at home. Had a great time hanging with the diverse group of performers too. Since we were the only bluegrass band performing on Saturday, we really gave them a show! Festival goers were treated to a slice of bluegrass pie that had all the flavors of our music! If they weren’t bluegrass followers before the concert, they are now! We had ‘em dancing in the grass.

The views were spectacular with mountains and vineyards all around. And our overnight stay at the Wine Country Inn was luxurious. We felt like royalty! If you’re ever out that way, be sure to stop in and set a spell in one of the rockers on their wraparound front porch. If it hadn’t been so late, I would have done some jammin’!Collage

After a great night’s sleep, we headed on up to Aspen for the Aspen Bluegrass Sundays Concert on top of Snowmass at an elevation of about 11,000 feet. The gondola ride up the mountain was a hoot as we crammed in long legs and instruments! Once we got to the top we were treated to the gorgeous views of Castle Peak and Hayden Peak that provided a backdrop for the venue. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming! Wish we could have stayed longer, but had to rush back as we’ll be playing at the Prescott Bluegrass Festival this coming weekend.

 

Out of the Frying Pan

Well, we’re back from our whirlwind tour of New Mexico and the far eastern edge of Colorado. Let me tell you, it’s just as hot there as back here in Arizona!

Albuquerque Concert

Click to hear “Charlotte Breakdown”

And speaking of hot…we really blazed it this past weekend. We were joined by my buddy, Doug Nicolaisen, who plays with James Reams & The Barnstormers back east.  Our regular banjo player, Tyler James, was unable to make the trip so Doug stepped in and lit the fires. Doug is so talented on this instrument, he amazes me every time! But don’t take my word for it, Judy Muldawer was sitting in the front row and captured some outstanding video…check out “Ain’t a Bump in the Road” on YouTube. I even had a long time member of the Southwest Pickers association come up and tell me that our band was the most exciting band they had seen since the concert series started 11 years ago! (And I didn’t even have to pay him to say that!)

Holly sign photoThe Holly Bluegrass Festival was so much fun. I love going to towns where the Bluegrass Festival is THE event of the year. Everywhere we looked there were signs and posters promoting bluegrass. I doubt there was a single soul living any where in the area that didn’t know the Bluegrass Festival was going on that weekend. Playing on the town square while kids and families gather round just takes you back to the roots of bluegrass, this is what it’s all about.

Looking forward to the Palisade Roots and Music Festival and the Aspen Bluegrass Sundays concert next weekend. While the temps might be cooler up in the mountains, but we’re planning to heat it up!

There’s No Place Like Home

Some days I don’t know whether I’m coming or going! Just got back from the Benson, AZ Bluegrass in the Park festival this past weekend. It was so nice to meet all the people that make this great event possible like Bob Nilson, the event coordinator, who’s great sense of humor kept us all in stitches. Getting to play along with 80-something Glen Wilburn in the jam session on Saturday brought back lots of great memories as he knew all the old songs that got this music (and me!) started. And speaking of getting started, Annie Beach of JamPak led a workshop that introduced some of the youngest in the crowd to bluegrass. They even put on a performance later!

bluegrass blog

Annie Beach and the Younguns!

The smile on my face was genuine and big as a barn as I walked out on stage. And it wasn’t just because of Bob’s stories! We played our hearts out and the crowd responded in kind by giving us theirs. It’s wonderful to be so well received in my new home state of Arizona. It’s been just about a year now that I’ve been playing bluegrass out here and I have to say that I’m loving every minute of it. I’ve met some wonderful folks in the bluegrass world out west and am making new friends, it’s such a thrill to be here. I even bought a pair of boots…but more on that story later!

Catch us as we headline the Hi-Country Bluegrass Festival in Arcosanti (Cordes Junction exit off of I-17 North) this weekend for another round of foot stompin’, knee slappin’ bluegrass!

Hi-Country Bluegrass Festival Flyer

 

On the Road Again!

Just got back from Durango, Colorado where we played the Durango Bluegrass Meltdown with Larry Gillis, Bluegrass 101, and the New Reeltime Travelers.  David Smith of KDUR’s longtime “Sweet By & By” radio program made my day when he told the Durango Telegraph “I’m traveling back to Durango because no festival appreciates true, raw, traditional vocalists like the Meltdown. Having James Reams, Larry Gillis and Bradford Lee Folk in the same place at the same time will be downright dangerous. These three will be showcasing the best in high, lonesome bluegrass and will be bringing an authenticity rarely seen in the West.” Based on the crowd’s response to our sets, I’m pretty sure we made David proud! This was a great event in a fantastic location. You won’t want to miss this one when it rolls around again next year!

With just enough time to catch my breath, we’re heading out again this Friday to Benson, AZ for the Bluegrass in the Park festival. We’ll be playing a couple of sets on Friday and Saturday and hope that you’ll get a  chance to join us. They’ve put together a great lineup (if I do say so myself!) of national, regional and local bands. It’s sure to be a fun weekend for the whole family!

Benson Flyer