Author: Varner, Mark

Plymouth 2009
stage and an even shorter walk to the building where Kids On Bluegrass practices are held.

The music was fantastic. It started with the four bands competing for the Emerging Artist award and a paid slot at next year’s festival. Jennifer Kitchen and Kitchen Help started at 10:30 AM and did a fine job as always. Following was Bluegrass Conspiracy, the Dalton Mountain Gang and Savanna Blu. All the bands did a great job. The winner this year was the Dalton Mountain Gang. This group really knows how to entertain! Congratulations to all the bands.

Each year there seems to be somewhat of a theme to the booking at Plymouth. This year it was kind of a guy-thing. We did have Nell Robinson, last year’s Emerging Artist winner, and a couple other female types on stage, but mostly it was the dudes playing dude-grass.

I had not seen Town Mountain before and was very impressed. The band had it all going for them: excellent musicianship, a world-class hard-edged lead singer, superb material, much of it original and of course they had Annie Staninec, one of my favorite performers in the world of bluegrass. She elevated the band into a raging machine one moment and killed us with a soulful country fiddle break the next. As I said, their original material was really compelling; great crisp songwriting with wonderful imagery and a strong bluegrass 2009 feel. I did not walk, I ran over to buy their latest CD. This band has been considered for Emerging Artist for CBA’s Father’s Day Festival and I hope they will be considered again this year.

I am a HUGE Grasstowne fan and they were my faves at the festival. Alan Bibey gave a master’s course on mandolin playing. Uncle Phil is always hot and Steve Gulley…. wow, Steve Gulley. They rocked out pretty good, but it was when they slowed it down that we heard some of the tunes that made us holler out like Gulley’s genius version of The Grand Tour or Bibey’s Greatest Love Ever. We got to buy their new CD before its official release. So we did.

I’d seen the Steep Canyon Rangers a few times before, but their Plymouth performance was far beyond anything I have seen from this group. Their stage show was dynamic in a way I had not seen before. Very impressive!

Needless to say, Audie Blaylock and Redline tore it up. The unique Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen were crowd pleasers as were the brilliant Bluegrass, Etc. Wayne Taylor and Appaloosa and Ronnie Reno also delivered the kind of music the audience loved.

There weren’t a huge number of children for the Kids On Bluegrass performance, but it sure was wonderful as always. The Anderson kids did a couple songs that brought the crowd to its feet and all of the other young people did a fine job. As always, thanks to Frank Solivan, Sr and the Elliotts for their work at bringing the next generation of bluegrass and old-time musicians forward.

Angelica Grim was at Plymouth and we did a little baby shower for her, organized by Deb Livermore. Her boy is due in January. We wish our dear friend the very best as she brings yet another picker into this big ole world.

L+S Promotions has fine lineups for the next two festivals in Yuma and Havasu. Sondra and Larry, we love what you do! You make so many people happy with your festivals. Please keep ‘em coming, especially Plymouth!

Your friend,
Mark Varner

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