2023 Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival

Wyatt Ellis with Bobby Osborne at the 2023 Jekyll Island fest – photo © Bill Warren

The 2023 edition of the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival is in the books, and it was a good one. Ernie and Debi Evans with Evans Media Source work very hard to make the best festival experience for the bands, their audience, and their staff.

When Sherry Boyd takes the MC mic, you know the show will run as smoothly as is possible. Dave Chichester of GBS Sound gives everyone confidence that the bands will sound great.

Friday morning 13-year-old Wyatt Ellis and 17-year-old Nathan Beaumont showcased on the Jekyll stage. We will see more of these two!

Bob Barnes provided the invocation both Friday and Saturday.

Caroline Owens presented the National Anthem on Friday.

Then it was time for Remedy Tree. They are a Florida band that has their feet firmly planted in both the old time and bluegrass camps. They provide a high energy, happy experience for the listeners.

Tim Graves and the Farmhands were up next. Tim has assembled a lot of history in this iteration of the band. Don Wayne Reno on banjo, Terry Eldredge on bass, Jimmy Haynes on guitar, and Tim on dobro. Their show takes everyone on quite a tour.

Deeper Shade of Blue finished up their two-day stint. These guys will be festivals staples for a long time to come.

Banjo legend, Terry Baucom, brought the Dukes of Drive to Jekyll. Terry is a major piece of bluegrass history. He was an original member of both IIIrd Tyme Out and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver.

Bryce and Brett Griffin, Wyatt Ellis, and Nathan Beaumont entertained the dinner crowd in the convention center. Dinner music is always appreciated. These four are well-steeped in traditional bluegrass music. 

The Malpass Brothers finished out the day as only they can. The ending of their show was the “brother body swap” routine that they do. They audience was howling in laughter!

Sideline hosted a jam Saturday morning with the assistance of EMS Artist Relations Director, Clarence Canada. A sizable number of musicians joined the fun.

The Grascals opened the Saturday stage show. Jamie Johnson has rejoined the band and has once again taken on the MC role. He, Terry Smith, and Danny Roberts are fellow founding members. The band invited Wyatt and Nathan to join them on both sets. In the evening set the “Grascals Trio” did a medley of requested songs. The trio – Jamie, Terry, and Kristin Scott Benson. 

Sideline then hit the stage with their high energy show. Go see them if Sideline is in your area.

Larry Stephenson has led his band for 34 years. He is one of the hardest working, most professional entertainers on the bluegrass circuit. He always provides a top shelf show.

Larry was followed by another topflight pro, Rhonda Vincent. There are few adjectives left to describe Rhonda. When a person says “Rhonda Vincent,” he has recited the whole book! Rhonda had a special guest sing with her. Tommy Brown, who headed Countyline Grass for many years, sang a couple duets with her. Tommy is also The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Jereme Brown’s, father.

The theme of the festival was honoring the legacy of Sonny and Bobby, the Osborne Brothers. The first annual The Norman Adams Award League of Innovators was presented to Bobby Osborne and Sonny’s wife, Judy. Several Osborne family members were guests of Ernie and Debi. Bobby’s band included sons Robby, Wynn, and Bobby Jr. 

The final performance of the festival was a tribute to the Osborne Brothers music hosted by Larry Stephenson. He was joined by Rhonda Vincent, Wynn Osborne, Tim Graves, Terry Eldredge, Mickey Harris, Nick Dauphinais, and Derek Vaden. Songs were sung, stories were told, and hearts swelled. Bobby made a brief appearance waving to the audience.

EMS hosts the Yeehaw Music Fest in Okeechobee, FL January 19-21, 2023. See you there.

Support your local music venues.