2023 Brown County Bluegrass Festival wrap up

Russel Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out at the ’23 Brown County Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren

The 31st annual Brown County Bluegrass Festival is complete. Edgar Loudermilk and his staff are to be congratulated on another successful festival. Yes it was hot and humid. Yes there were a few rain showers Saturday afternoon. Did that slow anything down? Nope! The covered grandstand kept the crowd dry and the covered stage kept the bands from being rained on – they were as wet as they could be from the humidity!

Michelle Hoag from WOBO radio held the MC mic for the afternoon show on Friday. Ol Hippie, Jerry Eicher, was the MC for Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. Terri Grannis closed out the last evening. “Preacher” started each day’s show with a blessing. The busiest person on the grounds was soundman Elijah Doty. He spent a lot of Saturday afternoon covering and uncovering speakers and other equipment. The sound was excellent all weekend.

Michigan’s Next Paige opened the Friday show. This band was formed in the past year. It is fronted by Bryan and Lisa Paige, proprietors of Paige Capo. They travel to many festivals and will have a booth at Wide World of Bluegrass.

Slippery Creek is a band from the greater Cincinnati area. They play mountain music in the style of Ralph Stanley.

Another Michigan band, Harbourtown, brought their show to the Brown County stage. It is rare for a band to have three members who formerly toured nationally. Dana Cupp was the last banjo player for Bill Monroe. Isaac Smith toured for a year with Marty Raybon. Jennifer (Strickland) Zapolnik toured with Don Rigsby among others.

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage topped off the Friday show. The afternoon show was in the heat of the day. The evening show was at sundown. It cooled off enough that Rhonda started the show wearing a coat! I don’t think anyone will argue the fact that Rhonda is a gem in the world of bluegrass and country music. She sets the standard.

Edgar and his band closed the Friday show with a rousing set of music. They are celebrating a Pinecastle recording deal and will be coming out with two new recording projects in the next few months.

Saturday morning kicked off with the Instrument Petting Zoo hosted by the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association and the Edgar Loudermilk Band. Big thanks go to Marcia Bailey for facilitating the Zoo. Marcia chairs the youth program for the Association and promotes the scholarship program that provides funds for youngster’s music lessons. Jerry Eicher and “Uncle Elmo” always help with the Zoo. Elmo brings his washtub bass for both the young and the young at heart to enjoy.

New Outlook opened the stage show. Lead singer, Brad Lambert, brings some fifteen years of singing on the southern gospel circuit to the group. Their sound is unique and special. Brad and wife Lori also bring the Moon City Boutique and Brad’s “Luthier on the Road” to shows. He stays busy repairing and setting up instruments.

Tony Hale and Blackwater entertained next. They give a top notch hard driving show.

Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out ushered in the rain showers in the afternoon. They soldiered through with a typically excellent show.

Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper then drove the showers away just before the supper break. 

The sun came out for the beginning of the evening shows. Edgar’s band did their final show of the weekend in the evening. The crowd was getting wound up and ready to party!

Russell started the party with a full on set of IIIrd Tyme Out hits.

Michael Cleveland closed out the evening with a high voltage set and the crowd demanding a second encore.

Next year’s dates are set – August 22-24, 2024. See you there.

Support your local music venues.