Thursday was met with a burst of onstage musical energy from the Amanda Cook Band, opening the festivities with an impressive show that highlighted Amanda’s powerhouse vocals and her incredibly skilled band. They lit up the crowd and brought them to their feet with current and past hits as well as debuting some new material set for a future project.
Next up was Remington Ryde with their show filled with crowd pleasing favorites including James King covers and Gospel tunes they have become known for. Bandleader Ryan Frankhauser introduced the audience to his new hire, mandolin player and singer, Josh Daniels, who the crowd offered their strong approval for.
Bluegrass music’s favorite son, Ralph Stanley II & The Clinch Mountain Boys, took the stage next. Ralph II and the whole band was sounding fantastic with new banjo man Landon Fitzpatrick easily sliding into his new role, and the expected quips and comedic banter between the players. One certainly couldn’t deny the steady drive and tone of Randall Hibbitts’s bass keeping it all going.
Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road were up next and welcomed everyone with their traditional, driving performance that is always highlighted by a fun and entertaining stage show. Lorraine had opened the festival by dedicating it to her sweet mother, Janice, who passed away earlier this year. She and her band are doing a wonderful job playing and hosting such an important event, along side Dad and annual emcee, Royce.
Closing out the evening was the legendary Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. They always sound great, but with the guest appearance of Paul Williams, originally scheduled to appear Saturday with his band, it was even more special. The band joked and entertained at the top of the bluegrass class as usual, and the crowd is already looking forward to next year for Doyle’s annual return to Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies.