Friday dawned sunny and warm for an ideal bluegrass festival day at the 2016 Charlotte Bluegrass Festival in Charlotte, MI. A group of young siblings calling themselves Sugar Creek Bluegrass opened the show. They range in age from seven to twenty from the Columbus, OH area.
The Spinney Brothers returned for day two and provided a lot of new music to the crowd. Tim Shelton brought Junior Williams to Charlotte to perform as a duet. Tim has been a long time favorite at Michigan festivals since his time with Newfound Road. Festival promoter Wes Pettinger and Spinney Brothers bass player Terry Poirier joined Tim and Junior for a couple hard driving bluegrass tunes.
Special Consensus was next up. Greg Cahill has been a mainstay in bluegrass music for many years and always provides a top notch show. Donna Ulisse brought the Poor Mountain Boys to Charlotte for the second year. Donna has quickly become a popular singer at Charlotte. She has conducted a songwriter workshop during both of her trips to Charlotte. Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out closed the Friday show. Donna Ulisse and Jennifer Strickland joined Special C during their evening show. It was the first time that Donna and Jennifer had sung together.
Saturday was a weather repeat of Friday. New County Grass from the east side of Michigan opened the final day of the festival, a family-based band that is a local favorite. Blue Mafia from Indiana was up next. This band has charted some of their music and is a growing force in bluegrass. The Edgar Loudermilk band spent 15 hours driving from a festival in Maine to get to Charlotte and then put on a top flight show. Edgar has made numerous appearances at Michigan festivals with both IIIrd Tyme Out and Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. Wes Pettinger filled in on banjo with Edgar.
Larry Cordle and Lonesome Standard Time also appeared for the second year. Larry’s songwriting and delivery of those songs is unmatched. Becky Buller made her first trip to Michigan as a band leader. Her unique style mesmerizes her audience. Her banjo player, Ned Luberecki, gave a banjo workshop that was well attended. The attendees enjoyed Ned’s teaching methods.
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper kept the audience glued to their seats as he closed the show. Michael joined Becky Buller in playing her award winning song Southern Flavor.
Next year will mark the 45th year of the festival.