Greg Linder (of Union) collected an amazing array of Bluegrass talent from near and far for local residents attending the 2011 event at the Shelton High School auditorium/stage this weekend.
The 3-day event included jams, workshops for those with instruments in hand of every level including/especially children.
The annual celebration of America’s musical roots is a relaxed affair that provides performers camping in/on the high school parking lot, all night picking jams, midnight hot dogs with assorted snacks for all, a band/banjo/bluegrass scramble/contest, mandolin tasting, and Marv’s slow jam.
Some of the headliners for the Saturday evening venue were:
The winners of the band contest.
Sugar Pine. Jumping into the fray with both feet, Sugar Pine is off and running with inspirational originals and captivating covers. Members are: Yvonne McMillan – bass and vocals; Steve Blanchard (of Prarier Flyer fame, and the “guy with the hat”) – guitar and vocals; Garrett Mass – mandoline; Matthew Snook – banjo and resonator guitar (dobro?) – all from the Portland area – except for the talented vivacious fiddler, vocalist, and violin instructor, Barbara Collins from Olympia.
Barbara recently broke up with her long time musical collaborator and partner, mandolin player and vocalist, Jeff. There was a hint of sadness to her exquisite performance after playing at Mason/Thurston County events with Jeff for over 20 years. Jeff currently plays in Ashland, OR.
Luke and Kati Dewhirst. This brother-sister duo came from the most original and promising local bluegrass group to play locally in years, the Dewhirsts (a family band rich in musical talent and dedication) recently broke up after releasing a stunningly fresh album of mixed traditional as well as original compositions. Luke (at 16, winner of a national banjo contest 2 years ago) and Kati Dewhirst charmed the audience with their warm performance. Greg Linder signed Luke to play with Runaway Train shortly after Luke (always nattily clad on stage) received the prestigious recognition.
Runaway Train. Greg Linder is the glue managing this group and the co-producer festival organizer. Based out of the south Puget Sound (Union) region, Runaway Train originally formed over 10 years ago (with Barbara Collins and a talented steel guitar playing dentist from Poulsbo at that time) entertaining audiences throughout the Pacific Northwest. Runaway Train is the host band of the Bluegrass from the Forest Festival, playing a critical role in making this annual festival possible. It recently performed or is booked for several popular festivals including Darrington Bluegrass Festival and Wintergrass.
The Boxcars. Headlining the festival this year is the Boxcars, one of the hottest bands on the bluegrass scene. The Boxcars are a quintet comprised of serious players with national reputations. The original instrumental ‘Jumping The Tracks’ had a uniquely upbeat tempo and feel which can be found on their new album.
Adam Steffy: An east Tennessee native, he found a place in the Tennessee-Virginia border area thriving bluegrass scene and early gigs with the Lonesome River Band (Tyminski was his replacement there). He signed up with the big name group, Alison Krause and Union Station. For nearly 7 years, Steffey lived the life of a high profile musician, recently winning 2 prestigious IBMA awards: Instrumental Recorded Performance o the Year for Durang’s Hornpipe, and Mandoline Player of the Year.
Ron Stewart: Ron is already one of the most sought after multi-instrumental session players in the bluegrass genre’s history. He has gone from fronting his family band for over 10 years to working with a who’s who of bluegrass including Lynn Morris, Curly Seckler, and most recently, a 6-year gig as fiddler for JD Crowe and The New South. Ron then became a member of the Dan Tyminski Band. Ron played fiddle on The New South’s 2006 release, “Lefty’s Old Guitar,” which was nominated for a Grammy.
John R. Bowman: Not many can say they were born in Mayberry, worked for Alison Krause, and are married to one of the Isaccs. John joined up with his old buddies from a group called Dusty Miller, Adam Steffey and Barry Bales. They were playing with a young lady from Champagne, Illinois names Alison Krause. By September of 1992, Alison had asked John to join her band since Dan Tyminski was going back to the Lonsesome River Band. He played with Alison for about 15 months, married Becky Isaacs, and worked with the group on various levels for over 12 years.
Keith Garrett: Keith grew up in East Tennessee. He soon began playing with various local and regional bands. In 2000, Keith became a founding member of Blue Moon Rising, and was nominated for “Emerging Artist of the Year” in 2006 by the IBMA. As a member of Blue Moon Rising, Keith has earned himself a place alongside some of the best singers and songwriters in bluegrass.
Harold Nixon: Harold has been a working musician since he was 15, and has had a strong interest in recording from the outset. A keen ear and rock solid sense of rhythm/timing gained him the respect of the very best in the business, leading to his 6 years with JD Crowe and the New South, touring in the band, and appearing on the 2008 Grammy Nominated record “Lefty’s Old Guitar.” Recent work with Blue Moon Rising has continued to spotlight his work.