40th Annual RockyGrass: Day 2

This report from RockyGrass is a contribution from Jake Schepps and Christian Sedelmyer.

RockyGrassWorking backwards on Day 2 of the festival: the evening’s closer was a special set of music with a band specifically put together by Béla Fleck, in which he played a superlative set of traditional bluegrass with Alan Bartram, Jason Carter, Ronnie McCoury (all of the Travelin’ McCourys), and the legendary Danny Paisley.  They all sang (including Béla on a 4-part gospel number), and of particular note was Texas Barbecue from Béla’s first album “Crossing the Tracks.” Ronnie told a great story about how it is named after Tex Logan’s legendary parties that he hosted decades ago. They chose a solid and diverse repertoire, including Sawing on the Strings sung by Jason Carter, songs from The Dreadful Snakes album, and brand new Béla Fleck compositions.

Yesterday offered a very special workshop with Béla Fleck, Jesse McReynolds and Ronnie McCoury playing some of Jesse’s iconic compositions and discussing cross-picking and split string techniques.

Also on the workshop stage, the indomitable Casey Driessen performed a spectacular set that he calls “The Singularity Tour,” including only his fiddle and a large array of pedals and effects.  While not traditional bluegrass, everything Casey does is performed with impeccable musicianship, extraordinary creativity, and a deep, funky groove.  He is an artist worth seeing and you can (and should) learn more about his FiddleSticks endeavor, a collaboration with various drummers, here.

Other highlights of the day included a stirring set from Red Molly, a rousing set from the Hillbenders and a super high energy set from The Infamous Stringdusters. Dr. Ralph Stanley & His Clinch Mountain Boys made an appearance. Seeing him sing O’ Death was more moving than ever.

Planet Bluegrass has worked hard to make the RockyGrass Festival a “zero waste festival.” All the vendors use compostable plates, utensils and cups.The festival provides filtered water on site to discourage bottled water and offers only Compost and Recycling bins (there are NO trash cans on site). While this may read as just “interesting” or very “Colorado,” it is often after witnessing the vast amount of overflowing trashcans of Styrofoam, plastic and aluminum at other festivals that this noble effort comes to light.

Then came jamming till 4am……

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About the Author

Jake Schepps

Jake Schepps has made a name for himself as a banjo renaissance man, an artist with not only an adroit touch on his instrument but an intrepid, imaginative vision for contemporary stringband music. He writes and performs contemporary classical music on the banjo with a string band. His recent recordings and compositions can be heard at Round Window Radio. In addition to music, Jake teaches emergency wilderness medicine around the world.