2024 Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge report

Lorraine Jordan on stage at her 2024 Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge festival – photo © Bill Warren

The second Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge festival was presented by Lorraine Jordan at the Kingsport, TN Meadowview Conference center. The MC duties were shared by Royce Jordan, Doug Whitley, and Tim White with sound handled by Troy Pope and Donnie Carver.

Lorraine opened the show with her band, Carolina Road. They went on to provide three sets of music on Friday and Saturday. Troy Pope, Scott Burgess, and Kevin Lamm presented an acapella version of the National Anthem. 

The Amanda Cook Band was up after Carolina Road. Amanda has a new project, Restless Soul, that releases in October of this year. Mitchell Mullins has been released as a single and is getting a lot of air play. Amanda did almost all of the songs from the project in her two sets. It is going to be a good project!

Larry Efaw & the Bluegrass Mountaineers are a staple at Lorraine’s shows. They present the best of old time mountain bluegrass. Larry has surrounded himself with fine young talent. Curtis Coleman is the banjo player and is 18 years old. Playing guitar is Larry’s grandson, Chris Wilcox. Chris has only been playing for a few months and proves that the apple doesn’t fall from the tree! Chris has also started singing bass with the group. Friday was his first time. He said he was NERVOUS! Adam and Mikayla Burrows round out the band. They are a dynamic young couple that have been a great addition to the Mountaineers. Adam and Warren Blair from Carolina Road provided a stirring rendition of Faded Love during their set.

Deeper Shade of Blue have become one of the top shelf bands in bluegrass music. They are fine musicians with vocal harmonies that young bands should aspire to. Troy Pope was running full blast to be able to play and manage the sound.

The Junior Sisk Band is always in demand at festivals all over the country. Junior was wearing a back brace and Heather was sitting in a chair as both were having some back issues. Tony Mabe said, “Look at us. Two that can’t walk and one that can’t see. What a crew!” They still put on a top flight show. Junior took a break and let the group present music from the Red Camel Collective. They have released a single, Roll on Mississippi, through Pinecastle Records.

Saturday kicked off with Time White & Troublesome Hollow. Tim is director of the television show, Song of the Mountains, known for his catchy humor. He is also a muralist having done several large murals in Bristol.

Coyote Ugly is a new band to this photographer. They present the best of traditional bluegrass music. They gather around a single microphone and sing from the heart.

Nick Chandler & Delivered is another of the traditional bands that honor bluegrass. This is band that needs to be heard more. Nick also did a mandolin workshop in the afternoon.

Chris Jones brought the Night Drivers to the Kingsport stage. Chris wears many hats in the bluegrass world. Band leader, Bluegrass Today writer, and humorist, and Sirius-XM DJ. Whew! The band was without banjo player Grace Vant Hof. Gena Britt was a great fill in. Mandolin player, Mark Stoffel, has to be heard to be believed. He is a master at different styles of music. Chris did a workshop for people who had questions about the business of radio.

The ETSU Pride Band put on a great show. ETSU has several levels of bluegrass bands. The Pride Band is the top level that each student strives for. They invited several youngsters to join then at the end of their set.

Lorraine put on her final set in the late afternoon. She honors each of her band members by featuring each of them throughout the show.

The Tennessee Bluegrass Band is one of the hottest young bands on the circuit. They have become showmen along with their great musicianship. Members Tim Laughlin and “Tater” Caruthers, along with Warren Blair, put on a fiddle workshop also.

Authentic Unlimited Closed out the festival. They are probably the most in demand band on the circuit now. Tenor vocalist, John Meador, was out ill. Band sound tech, Kevin McKinnon, stepped in on bass and vocals, Jerry Cole moved over to guitar. Doyle Lawson ( “Bossman” to the members of the band) stopped in for a visit.

But wait, there’s more…

Warren Blair’s brother, Darrell, spent a great portion of his life buying, selling, and giving away instruments to youngsters and some older folks. He passed in 2022. Warren and his brother, Kenny, have decided to honor Darrell’s memory by starting a non-profit – the Darrell Blair Music for Life Fund. An Anton Dietl violin was raffled off at the festival to raise for some money for the fund. Lorraine provided a ticket for each buyer of an advanced ticket for either this year’s Bluegrass Christmas in the Smokies or next year’s Bluegrass in the Blue Ridge. Warren was overwhelmed by this kind gesture. Charles Daniels won the fiddle. He has been taking lessons for a couple years.

Lorraine had mentioned that a little girl needed a fiddle upgrade from her small one to a larger one. Charles indicated that he would donate his old one.

I have known Lorraine since the early days of Carolina Road – over twenty years. She has always had a soft spot for young musicians. My first knowledge of that happened at the Milan Bluegrass festival in the early 2000s. An eight or nine year old boy brought his mandolin to show her. He was proud as punch to show her. It was missing a couple strings. She took him to the onsite music vendor and got new strings, a bridge, and a strap put on it for him. She also saw that he got her CDs and a shirt. She gained a fan for life. She continues to take care of the youngsters today. Her festivals and coffee house always have a place for the youngsters. 

I hope we all wish the “Lady of Tradition” continued success.

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