Bluegrass Cardinals Reunion at the 2024 Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren
The 47th Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival is in the books. Ernie and Debi Evans host numerous festivals in the bluegrass and country genres. They also work on many other projects. Sherry Boyd, an in-demand MC at festivals, adds to their success. She also MC’s festivals for other promoters. The Evans’s have a dedicated core of volunteers that keep things running as smooth as possible.
I have to start this with an apology to Bluegrass Today followers and to a special band. On day one I failed to mention the EMS Showcase band. They played a set after the supper break. The band included Johnny Butcher on guitar, Justin Mason on dobro, Troy Pope, and Scott Burgess from Deeper Shade of Blue on bass, Billy Lee Cox on banjo, and Clarence Canada on mandolin. Sorry guys.
Friday kicked off with Florida band, Penny Creek. They have become synonymous with the Jekyll Island festival.
Tim Graves has assembled a powerhouse lineup for The Farm Hands, with Don Wayne Reno, Terry Eldridge, and Jimmy Haynes. Tim said that he and Terry figured out that the four of them have 170 years of music experience. Tim contributes 49 years of that. The band’s latest project is titled Bluegrass DNA.
Deeper Shade of Blue is featured at several EMS festivals and spent two days this year at Jekyll. They have become an EMS audience favorite.
Rhonda Vincent & the Rage closed out the day’s show. There are few superlatives left to describe her dedication to the music and her fans. She spent nearly two hours visiting and taking pictures with her fans after her first set. Her 2024 tour schedule carries her to every corner of the country. Her third grandchild and first granddaughter is due shortly, and to say she is excited is quite an understatement.
She introduced Jacob Metz as the newest member of the Rage during her set. He is singing harmony and playing dobro.
As always there were jams in several rooms around the convention center.
Larry Stephenson and Derek Vaden were two of the “double duty” musicians performing Saturday. Larry opened the show with his band playing two sets. He then played two more sets with the Bluegrass Cardinal Reunion. Derek played banjo on all four sets.
Larry is approaching the 35th year of leading his band. Quite a bit of Larry’s newer music is in collaboration with Donna Ulisse. Larry toured with the legendary Bill Harrell before joining the Bluegrass Cardinals, sings from the heart, and is much respected throughout the industry.
Randy Wood and his late wife were honored with the second “Norman Adams League of Innovators” award, given at this year’s festival.
Sammy Shelor leads the Lonesome River Band which is now is 41 years old. The band plays music from its earliest days to some of their brand new music. Sammy has set quite a standard for young banjo players.
What can one say about the Malpass Brothers?? Talented musicians – comedians – entertainers? All of these and more. Taylor can deliver outrageous lines with a completely straight face. He now claims acting school as one of his achievements. The group needs to be seen to be understood.
Chris and Taylor Malpass have surrounded themselves with four young top flight musicians. Chris says they get the group from Chuckie Cheese. I think I’ll go there and recruit a band!! The brothers are now the host of what used to be Doyle Lawson’s festival in Denton, North Carolina. They are also beginning taping their television show for RFD this coming weekend. They will do six episodes in three days in Texas. Darien, Georgia native Jackson Bethune will be the sound engineer for the series.
The Bluegrass Cardinal Reunion closed out the festival. David Parmley and his father started the band about 50 years ago, and the reunion band features original member Randy Graham, one time member Larry Stephenson, Doug Bartlett, and Derek Vaden. The Cardinals recorded a number of Randall Hylton tunes, and hearing these sung again by David brings a flood of memories. The harmony of David, Larry, and Randy remains special.
As an aside – in an article a few days ago I posted some pictures of Jack Bethune’s unusual guitar case. His grandson Jackson saw one at a show in Arkansas in Tim Graves band, and I asked Tim about it. The case belonged to Uncle Josh Graves and his son, Sonny (Josh Junior), now uses it. So, we now know where two of the twelve are.
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