1st Annual Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival huge success

This review of a new bluegrass on the beach festival in North Carolina is a contribution from Carmen Evans, a life-long music lover in Norfolk, VA. Photos are courtesy of Woody Edwards and Rhonda Vincent.

One usually thinks of a bluegrass festival being held in the country or the mountains, but at the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival this past weekend, there was only blue skies, blue water, and the authentic sounds of bluegrass a-strumming. Shallowbag Bay, off the Roanoke sound, was the backdrop for the stage at Roanoke Island Festival Park where over 5000 people attended this family-oriented event. People came from all over the country, some as far as Maine and Hawaii.

There were so many wonderful bands in Friday’s line-up: Dry Mill Road, Banjo Island, Drifting Sands, Stoney Creek, The Hickory Project, Nu-Blu, Stacey Grubb & Clay Hess and The Whiskey Rebellion. You just have to come and experience this next year for yourself. Banjo Island was one of the opening bands for Friday and they really kicked it with the song, My Name is Jimmy Martin, written by Chris Edwards. Many thanks to Rhonda Bates, Wes Lassiter and Stanley (better known as Stash) Lawrence for their dedication to our veterans, with their song, Home Again, and there was hardly a dry eye in the house after they sang, Hurrikane, written by Wes Lassiter. Looking forward to hearing their future CD, which they are starting in December.

Saturday was just one of those special days, the weather could not have been better, BLUE BLUE, BLUE, for the bluegrass line up of Gary “Biscuit” Davis, Cumberland River Band, The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, The Hillbilly Gypsies, Nothin’ Fancy, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver and Rhonda Vincent and The Rage. Just listening and being in Doyle Lawson’s presence with Quicksilver, “There is a good reason why Doyle Lawson was inducted into the hall of fame. There were 5000 people at the OBX Bluegrass tonight who were witness to it,” said Mark Hodges of Mountain Fever Records. Shivers ran up and down peoples arms when they sang, Blue Train, holding out the vocal harmony for a full twenty four beats.

We had the opportunity to speak with Josh Swift, dobro player of 5 years with Quicksilver, who said of the festival organizers…

“…..it was first class treatment, air conditioned areas, drive and pick ups for the artists whenever they needed. Corey’s team was awesome. This is one of the largest crowd we have ever played to at a festival, and one that I feel I can bring my own kids to. It was that family oriented.”

Rhonda Vincent was having a GOOOOooood hair day! She opened with Kentucky Borderline to a full house and blew them away with her set.

Rhonda was enchanting and as she commented,

“We loved the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival! Everything about the festival is first class, from the moment you enter the festival site, to the incredible billboards that promoted the festival, to the production staff, and hospitality. The site is so unique with the ocean behind the stage. It’s a breath-taking festival location with true class and style. I can’t wait to return in 2013!”

The fun did not end on Saturday at the park. Sunday’s lineup was a Bluegrass Beach Jam, at the Ramada Inn. The venue moved to Peppercorn’s at the Ramada and the crowd was reverent as they listened to the sounds of Mountain Fever Recording Artist, Sweet Potatoe Pie, and the finale by Hard Knox.

I know Doc and Earl were listen’n, pick’n and a grin’n. We miss you!

So just remember this festival for next year and think: blue skies, blue water, and bluegrass!