Monday, September 24, 2012

Watermelon Park Fest Re-cap and Pictures

Laura and I are just back from our first ever Watermelon Park Festival in Berryville, VA!  I don't know why we waited so long to attend this fantastic event in an idyllic, riverside setting.  Instead of a long re-cap, I think I'll just briefly summarize a few personal highlights and then feature some splendid photos by Richele E. Cole, and one by Jim Stewart.

Highlights
  • We lucked out by camping next to the band The Green Boys from Richmond, VA.  I enjoyed getting to know these guys a little bit, hearing their music, and playing some old-time fiddle tunes with Zack Miller, their mandolin player.  Couldn't have asked for better neighbors!  The Green Boys won 1st place in the band contest!  Congratulations!
  • Getting better acquainted with the music of ballad singer, mountain banjoist, artist and  crankie enthusiast Elizabeth Laprelle.  I could listen to her sing all day!
  • The two sets on Friday by The Hot Seats, especially their epic Dance Tent performance that evening.  That was the most frenetic, intense, chaotic, energetic, you name it set I have ever seen The Hot Seats do!
  • An impromptu late, late Friday night campfire jam at the campsite with Elizabeth Laprelle (!!!), Zack Miller, Mark Davis of The Brokedown Boys, and the bass and guitar playing Nobile brothers.  When they started Angeline the Baker I got out my tenor banjo and joined in.  I continued to play along whenever something I kinda knew like Cluck Old Hen, June Apple or Greasy Coat would come up. What a thrill!  I didn't want this jam to end.  If you haven't heard of Elizabeth Laprelle you need to check her out.  She is great music!
  • The Saturday band contest that was won by our new friends The Green Boys!  Well deserved.  The Green Boys' original sound really made them stand out.  As winners, they got to do an additional 3 song mini-set on the main stage that was well received.  Look for The Green Boys at a town near you soon!
  • The releasing of each kids' watermelon boat floats into the Shenandoah River on Saturday afternoon.  For some reason this was really cool and fun.
  • The Two Man Gentlemen Band on Saturday at 5pm, who gave the best performance I think I have ever seen them do, along with some hilarious stage banter.  How do they keep getting better?  I'm glad Andy Bean is featuring the 4-string plectrum jazz banjo more these days.
  • Furnace Mountain Band.  Although I had seen some of their members in various incarnations over the years, I had never officially seen Furnace Mountain proper until Saturday.  One word sums up their set: sublime.  The cover of Bob Dylan's Spanish Boots of Spanish Leather that they did was perhaps the single best moment of music that I saw on any stage all weekend.  I also liked the the hidden beauty and subtle Celtic flair they bring to fiddle tunes.  I can't wait to listen to Furnace Mountain's newest CD Road to Berryville.
  • And finally, getting to hear some bluegrass in its purest, most appealing form, thanks to the legendary Del McCoury Band.  The world's preeminent bluegrass band gave everyone what they were hoping for and more in a Saturday night performance deserving of the many awards and accolades they have received over the years.  I was very entertained, to say the least.  It brought back memories I didn't even have.

I could mention more but I'd rather just share a few pictures from this incredible weekend.  Except for the last pic of The Green Boys by Jim Stewart, the photos below were all taken by Richele E. Cole of prettyinthepanhandle.com.

Acoustic Burgoo.  Sorry to have missed this band. Photo by R.E. Cole.
Ben Belcher of The Hot Seats. Photo by R.E. Cole.
Jake Sellers of The Hot Seats. Photo by R.E. Cole.
Graham DeZarn of The Hot Seats. Photo by R.E. Cole.
Ed Brogan of The Hot Seats. Photo by R.E. Cole.
Josh Bearman of The Hot Seats. Photo by R.E. Cole.
The Hot Seats - "You Don't Need to Worry about the 47%". Photo by R.E. Cole.
Alison Self singing with The Hot Seats. Shave 'Em Dry - a VERY dirty song. Photo by R.E. Cole.
Danny Knicely of Furnace Mountain.  Photo by R.E. Cole.
Morgan Morrison of Furnace Mountain on Bouzouki.  Photo by R.E. Cole.
Del McCoury.  Photo by R.E. Cole.
Rob McCoury.  Photo by R.E. Cole.
Jason Carter and Ronnie McCoury.  Photo by R.E. Cole.
The Green Boys - winners of the Watermelon Park Band Contest!  Photo by Jim Stewart.
 
I hope to return next year!

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