2023 Charlotte Bluegrass Festival wrap up

Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper at Charlotte 2023 – photo © Bill Warren

The 51st Charlotte Bluegrass Festival was a rousing success. A large crowd enjoyed a DRY weekend with lots of stage music and campground jamming. Once again Terri Grannis and Duffy Brown kept the show running smoothly, and GBS Sound showed that they are one of the premier live sound companies on the circuit. Dave and Traci Chichester work hard for the bands and the audience.

Friday morning kicked off with a couple workshops. Edgar Loudermilk and Jennifer Strickland Zapolnik hosted a songwriting workshop, and Jamie Pittman hosted a guitar workshop.

Crabgrass opened the stage show for their final set of the weekend. They were celebrating mandolinist Kevin Crabtree’s birthday. 

Williamson Branch did two more sets in addition to their Thursday set. Their high energy keeps the crowd totally engaged.

The David Mayfield Parade made their debut on the Charlotte stage. This is another high energy band with top flight musicians, a bit of humor, and a rollicking show.

The Amanda Cook Band returned to the festival as a “back by popular demand” group. Amanda has turned into a high profile entertainer in the genre.

Kody Norris closed out the evening and prepared the audience for additional sets on Saturday. Kody has created one of the best shows on the scene today. His show is the current “Entertaining Band of the Year” for SPBGMA, a well-deserved honor.

Saturday morning was a time for kids from one to one hundred. The Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association provided their Instrument Petting Zoo For all kids to get a feel for the instruments. The Edgar Loudermilk Band members mentored the youngsters. Edgar had a couple youngsters making little tunes on the fiddle. Jamey Pittman had a number of little guitarists surrounding him and Anthony Howell had both banjo player and dobro players around him. Ol’ Hippie Bluegrass Show’s Uncle Elmo brought his washtub bass, and the head hippie, Jerry Eicher, showed the kids all about the ukulele. The petting zoo will make its next appearance at the Brown County Bluegrass Festival in August.

Fiddlin’ Dixie and Little Friends also provided fun opportunities for the youngsters.

New Outlook opened the stage show. Brad and Lori Lambert front the band and also run the Moon City Event Center in Wapakoneta, Ohio. They are a duo that has a passion for the bluegrass community, and that passion brought about the Mike Dean Music Scholarship program. The first scholarship was awarded last fall to Dante Flores. Dante is an eleven year old banjo phenom. Brad and Lori brought him on stage to play a couple tunes with them and provide a big surprise. Dante has been accepted into the Béla Fleck Banjo Camp. When Lori found out, she set the wheels in motion. Her friends, customers, and the bluegrass family made it possible to provide Dante with a thousand dollars toward camp expenses. She then asked me to circulate through the Charlotte crowd with a donation jug while Dante was playing. The audience opened their wallets and purses and added well over another thousand dollars toward his camp expenses. It is hard to say thanks enough times to the wonderful bluegrass family!

Full Cord slid in from Telluride. They were the winners of last year’s band contest which allowed them a stage performance at this year’s festival. They are a Michigan band that is getting a lot of national attention and were joined by fiddler Peter Knupfer in their evening set. They also enlisted festival promoter Wes Pettinger in closing out the festival.

Lonesome River Band has performed many times at Charlotte but this one was a special performance for guitarist Jesse Smathers. His first show with LRB was at Charlotte in 2015. Happy Anniversary Jesse!!

Michael Cleveland brought Flamekeeper back to the festival. There are few words left to describe what he brings to every performance. He is amazing!

Kody Norris put on two shows that had the audience on their feet more than once. Everyone needs to see this show. He also invited young Dante to play with him.

Next year’s Charlotte dates are June 20-22. Join in the fun.

Candidpix.info has arrived in Centre Hall, PA for the Remington Ryde Festival. Please join us for four big days of bluegrass music.

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