The day started out with a gorgeous gospel set with local stars The Blue Canyon Boys featuring KC Groves (of Uncle Earl). They provided a beautiful start to the morning and it was wonderful to hear the band with their new banjo player Chris Elliot (formerly of Spring Creek). Colorado-based Finnders & Youngberg played an enjoyable set of bluegrass and honky-tonk, which included the triumphant return of their fiddler Ryan Drickey (formerly of Jake’s Expedition Quartet). Ryan returned the day before the show after a year in Sweden on a Fulbright scholarship studying Swedish folk music.
Aoife O’Donovan, the “Original American Songbird,” rocked the Wildflower Pavilion, performing many of her original tunes with a phenomenal band: guitarist Grant Gordy (David Grisman Quintet, Expedition Quartet) on guitar, the incomparable Phoebe Hunt on violin, and mandolinist Dominick Leslie and bassist Samson Grisman of The Deadly Gentlemen. Young Boulder-based rising star Bella Betts wowed the crowd, sitting in on mandolin for a couple tunes. Aoife recently recorded an album of hymns with jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas and his quintet. This band will likely not travel the bluegrass circuit, but will assuredly be a pleasure to see.
Peter Rowan & The Travelin’ McCourys had some amazing moments, especially when Michael Cleveland joined Jason Carter on twin fiddles. Peter told Christian before the show, “We are playing a set of Bill Monroe tunes, all in the original keys that Bill sang them in.” And it was awesome.
The festival closer was Tim O’Brien & Friends, with Brian Sutton, Casey Driessen and Mike Bub. Tim has played 28 of the 40 RockyGrass festivals, so he made a fitting closure. He told exceptional stories about some of the early festivals, and a wonderfully moving one about visiting Doc Watson at his home. Tim and Aoife O’Donovan sang a moving version of Your Long Journey, which Doc wrote with his wife, Rosa Lee. And the great Edgar Meyer sat in on Tim’s jam standard Land’s End/Chasin’ Talon. Other special guests included Pete Wernick, Ronnie McCoury, and Rob McCoury for a fun Earl Scruggs tribute.
Mark your calendar for RockyGrass the 41st: July 26-28, 2013.
About the Author (Author Profile)
Jake Schepps has made a name for himself as a banjo renaissance man, an artist with not only an adroit touch on his instrument but an intrepid, imaginative vision for contemporary stringband music. Jake’s newest CD is “An Evening in the Village: the Music of Béla Bartók” featuring arrangements of the great Hungarian composer’s work for traditional American string band. In addition to music, Jake teaches emergency wilderness medicine around the world.
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