Blissfield Bluegrass on the River is a small, community sponsored, free one day event that has been held for the past nine years. The Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association has organized and presented the festival for the past three years. It is a showcase of local talent and bands that are nearly all members of the Association. Blissfield is a small village located in southeast Michigan that provides its city park each year for the festival.
The day kicked off with an Association member Sami O’Brien providing a stirring rendition of the National Anthem. The Blissfield Rotary is the presenting co-sponsor of the event. President Russ Quinton welcomed everyone to the show. MC Jerry Eicher from the Ol’ Hippie Bluegrass Radio Show always sets a fun tone for the days activities. He has a wheelchair bound friend the he always helps to get out and dance. Food and craft vendors keep the crowd well fed and shopped out!
The Waynewood Boys opened the entertainment. They are long-term members of the Association. They bring a unique style to the stage. They have written and produced their version of a bluegrass opera that they have performed throughout the area.
The side stage was up next with Fiddlin’ Dixie and Travelin’ Light. Dixie and her kids program have been a fixture at BBoR. Dixie does a guitar give away at the end of her program. This year’s winner was Junior Bussle. The Blissfield Martial Arts Studio always steps up to sponsor the kid’s program.
The RFD Boys are celebrating their 50th year performing bluegrass music. They provide a wonderful blend of the old and new. They were inducted into the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor at the end of their first set. Hall of Honor chair Ron Benton made the presentations. Area music pioneer George Kilbreath was also inducted. George is in his middle 80s. He joined the RFD Boys for a song. Duane Estep was the final inductee. Duane currently plays in his family band, New County Grass and Kim Robins and 40 Years Late. Duane goes back many years to The Livingston County Grass, and made a truly heartfelt statement: “I can honestly say that all I have ever wanted to do is play music.” Congratulations to all of the inductees.
The Galbraith Clan then played a few tunes from the side stage.
Kim Robins and 40 Years Late then hit the main stage. You will hear a lot about this band in the future. Her new single, I’ll Always Be A Gambler, debuted at number 11 on the charts.
JT and Thunder Hill is a new band in the Michigan/Ohio area. They played the side stage this year. They will become a force in the area.
Red, White, and Bluegrass under the direction of Sam Costelli has become one of the greatest bands supporting bluegrass in the area. Sam provides support to a number of bluegrass festivals including BBoR. The band is always a welcome addition to festival lineups.
Bobby and Patsy Anne Hutch were next on the side stage. Bobby is one of the area pioneers that continues his musical legacy. He has promoted shows, booked bands, and fronted Grand Ol’ Country for many years, and is a member of the Association Hall of Honor.
Calabogie Road is a band based in West Michigan who cut their musical teeth as members of the West Michigan Bluegrass Music Association. They provide top flight local music.
The back section of Bachmayer Park has a large section set aside for jamming. They put together a band that plays the side stage each year. The jamming is pretty much non-stop from noon until the end of the day at 8:00 p.m.
The Band of Brothers was put together by Marvin Webb and Tim Ellis, along with bassist Tom Arbore, and are great supporters of bluegrass music in the area.
Area songwriter/singer Willie Carter is a favorite on The BBoR side stage. He has been working on some projects that will make him a household name soon.
The RFD Boys and Kim Robins closed out the day with Kimberly Leach in between on the side stage.
I have to thank some people for the pictures. My wife, Pam Warren, Ol’ Hippie Jerry Eicher, and Fiddlin’ Dixie Andres took pictures while I spent the day on a golf cart with a bum leg. Thank you for keeping things going.
The tentative date for next year’s 10th BBOR is August 15th.
Support your local music venues.