This post is a contribution from David Morris, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. He reports here on two of the acts from the Monday night main stage showcase.
John Chapman had some sage advice for the audience Monday night as The Chapmans opened their showcase set at the World of Bluegrass conference in Nashville: “It’s only Monday. Don’t wear yourselves out yet.” But it was clear from the 30-minute set that the family band was holding nothing in reserve. John Chapman’s vocals were exceptional, especially on Small Exception of Me, which had listeners at several tables making favorable comparisons to the standard-setting version the late John Duffy recorded with the Seldom Scene. And on song after song, harmonies from his brothers were tight and fresh.
The Chapmans have been together for more than 21 years, and just last year brought the first non-family member into the band — fiddler Tyler Beckett. They have fun on their web site and on stage, but when the playing started, it was all business — even it it was only Monday.
Darrell Webb’s resume reads like a Who’s Who of Bluegrass — the Lonesome River Band, Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Rhonda Vincent, J.D. Crowe and the New South, and a couple of recording gigs with Dolly Parton — so a solid performance from him at a Monday night showcase at the World of Bluegrass conference in Nashville was not surprising. But it was the newest member of his band, 19-year-old Jacob Joines, who stole the show with stellar dobro work.
Joines, like banjo player Chris Wade a student in the bluegrass program at East Tennessee State University, joined the band about two months ago, after the band’s newest project, Bloodline, was recorded. But his soulful breaks on the resophonic guitar, especially on I’m Just a Product of My Bloodline, made it sound like he has known these songs for years.
The Johnson City connection extends to Webb himself. While he never attended the school, he played in the ETSU bluegrass band when he lived in Johnson City a while back. So apparently the band’s music is a product of geography as well.