Charlotte Bluegrass Festival – 2024 wrap-up

Williamson Branch at the 2024 Charlotte Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren

The 52nd Charotte Bluegrass Festival has come and gone. The running joke for many years is that it always rains at Charlotte, but it held off until early Sunday morning! We did have tornado warnings and sirens Friday afternoon, and the crowd was prepared to evacuate. It wasn’t necessary, thankfully. Wes Pettinger and his team have worked diligently to build the festival back to its early successes.

Now for those who do not know how we northerners pronounce the city name, it is Shar-lot. 😊

Dalton Harper opened the Friday stage show. He will be hearing from him a lot more as time goes on and more people get to see and hear him.

The David Mayfield Parade has become a fan favorite at Charlotte. He performed four sets between Saturday and Sunday. He presents a high energy, fast moving, very humorous show.

Williamson Branch returned for a second year due to audience demand. This family band consisting of three girls and their Mom and Dad deliver a top notch show. They are making their 10th year anniversary tour this summer. Banjo player Izaac Daniels just finished a year with the band and has decided to leave the road. Friday was his final show with the band. Izaac told me he was looking forward to being home every night.

Joe Mullins & the Radio Ramblers returned to the Charlotte stage after a few years’ hiatus. This award-winning group gives an audience full measure. Steve Day filled in on fiddle for Jason Barie this weekend.

The Henhouse Prowlers closed out the Friday show. They are one of the most talented bands on the circuit today. Between sets they did a workshop to let the audience know about their work and travels for the US State Department as The Bluegrass Ambassadors. Since 2013 they have visited 25 countries, bringing bluegrass music across the world. They learn a popular song in the language of the country they are visiting and present it as an ice breaker! This is a band that needs to be seen.

Highway North opened the Saturday show. They are a new band from Canada anchored by Jake Lauzon. Jake played guitar and sang tenor with Nothin’ Fancy for a couple years. One of the members lives a 12 hour drive from the nearest US/Canada border crossing!

The Grascals held court for two great sets. Jamie Johnson is very upfront about his journey over the past ten years. He is now eight years sober!! Congratulations young man! Kristin Scott Benson teaches online banjo lessons, and one of her students is a Michigan youngster named Dante Flores. She invited Dante on stage to play a tune. She left the stage and sat in the front row to watch him.

Dale Ann Bradley is one of the truly amazing voices in the musical world. She wowed the crowd with her brilliant singing. Matt Leadbetter has been her right hand man for a number of years, and reminds us all of his father, “Uncle Phil.”

Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper closed out the festival as only he can – a hundred miles an hour with complete joy showing on his face. His bass player is Chris Douglass, whose brother Lloyd plays banjo. Michael said that a lot of people, when he introduces Chris, say oh yeah, Lloyd’s brother. So Michael invited Chris’s brother to join them in a tune!

There were plenty of offstage workshops throughout the weekend. One of the highlights is the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrument Petting Zoo. Youngsters of all ages get the feel of everything from Uncle Elmer’s washtub bass down to a ukulele. The dobro and the fiddle were two of this year’s favorites. has made the trek from Charlotte to Centre Hall, Pennsylvania for the Remington Ryde Festival put on by Larry Efaw. Join us there for four days of great music.

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