Bluegrass in the Bluegrass… and Red Slipper Lounge J.D. Crowe follow up

What a memorable weekend in Lexington! The first annual Bluegrass in the Bluegrass, held at the Clarion Hotel and hosted by SamJam and Rudyfest, left everyone who attended in complete shock. Sammy Karr, Rick Greene, Leroy Walker, Vic Adams, Rudy Burchett, Tom Carper, and every one involved made certain it was a stellar weekend. A sold out venue, coupled with stage shows that were as historic, and as high energy as you could ever see at a bluegrass show, made for a great weekend. Jamming was everywhere throughout the hotel. For those of you that read my article on the Red Slipper Lounge, my wife and I were able to take J.D. Crowe back to the original spot where the old stage stood. But more on that later.

Friday kicked off with Charlie Woods and Deep Hollow followed by Hammertowne, Larry Cordle & Lonesome Standard Time featuring Don Rigsby, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, with Balsam Range closing out the night.

Saturday brought in Charlie Woods & Deep Hollow, The Caleb Daugherty Band, Turning Ground, the original Quicksilver band featuring Doyle Lawson, Lou Reid, Jimmy Haley, and Terry Baucom with Stephen Burwell on fiddle, and Sideline. A very special surprise for everyone included an appearance by J.D. Crowe.

All the bands did a phenomenal job! There were some highlights worth noting. Saturday, Caleb Daugherty performed a Marvin Davis song called Black Dust Fever that brought a standing ovation. A great tune written about a coal miner who had gotten black lung disease. For those of you unfamiliar with Marvin, he has penned such great songs as Bootleg John and Rain.

The Quicksilver reunion was just unbelievable. Their performance of I’ll Be With You was the highlight for me. Jimmy Haley broke down in tears when he told the crowd after the song that he and Lou’s dear friend Jeff Hooker, who wrote the song, had recently passed away. He told the crowd that Jeff would be pleased to know the audience’s response after the song received a standing ovation. Crowe got up during the reunion and reminisced about his time there, and let the crowd know how he was doing. One would think after a reunion performance of that caliber most of the crowd would disperse. Not this time. Sideline took the stage and brought the goods. I call Sideline the Metallica of bluegrass. Skip Cherryholmes left the stage, strolling through the crowd, while playing an instrumental. It was bluegrass at full throttle.

The manager of the Clarion had given me access to the place where the Red Slipper was once located, where J.D. Crowe & The New South had played 7 nights a week back in the 1970s. It is now under construction, and soon to be the Sedona Taphouse. I had spoken to J.D. on the phone a few months ago about the Red Slipper, and was hoping to get a few words with him, but he was so rushed by the crowd after the Quicksilver reunion I felt bad asking him for a minute.

Then I remembered, while he was on stage talking with Doyle, he had mentioned that he came out with a couple friends and was hoping to see the old Red Slipper. I politely went up to JD and told him I could take him and his friends back to the old place where he had spent so much time on stage. He interlocked arms with my wife Missy and said “Great get me out of here!” We took J.D. and his friends into the old Red Slipper Lounge. I wish that I could have caught the look on his face when he walked in. Almost like a hundred years of memories flooded his mind. It had been almost 40 years since he stepped foot in that room.

It was something very special… almost indescribable, to talk to him in the very place that history was made.

Emcee’s Rita Small and Daniel Mullins did a great job, as did sound man Keith “Pokus” Keeran. 

The staff at The Clarion was extremely nice and helpful to all attendees, and provided two hamburger bars in the lobby. If you love bluegrass, you don’t want to miss this one.

Next years line up will include Doyle Lawson, Russell Moore, Scott Vestal and Curtis Vestal in a The News is Out reunion show, a tribute to the ’80s version of the iconic Quicksilver line up. Follow Rudyfest and SamJam on Facebook or visit the websites for updates on next years show.

Special thanks to Allen “Styx” Hicks. #whywouldntya