Friday dawned warm and sunny with threats of thunderstorms that never materialized at the 2019 Norwalk Music Festival. Early risers played bingo called by Betty Jo Hickman. Then was a day that showcased Ohio based bands.
MC, Earl ”The Pearl” Workman, greeted everyone and brought host band, Harbourtown, to the Norwalk stage. Harbourtown was founded by the late Tony Hickman. Son, Kurt, heads the band and promotes this festival. The band is perhaps one of Ohio/Michigan’s most seasoned band of young men. They are favorites everywhere they perform.
Next up was Out of Mind Bluegrass. This is a young band fronted by husband and wife team, Brandon and Lisa Fox. Nine year old Blake Fox joined the band on both of their sets singing and picking mandolin. Keep an eye out for this young man.
Ottawa County Bluegrass was up next. These guys have played music together for many years. They also had a youngster join them with her fiddle. She spent time on stage with the band at last year’s festival. Ottawa County provided a full measure of family harmony.
New band, Crabgrass took the stage next. This band is comprised of accomplished young musicians. Tucker, son of banjo player Andy Crabtree, joined the band for a few tunes. He aspires to play banjo and dobro – just like – guess who??
Caney Creek Hit the stage next. Caney Creek plays music in the Stanley style. There are many years of experience in these four guys. See them if you get the chance.
Perhaps the most inspirational person at the festival was a young lady named Stormy. Stormy was in a tragic auto accident that has left her wheelchair bound. Her body may be in the wheelchair, but her spirit flies high. She likes to dance and her father gets her up a helps her dance. She knows the words to all of the songs and sings along. We can all take a lesson in goodness from this young lady.
Classic country music was on tap with Bootleg. They got Zellie’s Opry House Production and Promotion’s Keith and Terri Grannis up and cutting a rug!
Acoustic Edge closed out Friday with a set of lively honky tonk music.
Saturday morning brought the kids out for Fiddlin’ Dixie with Friends program. The kids are given experiences in many aspects of music. They write a little and Dixie plays what they write. They have the opportunity to handle ukuleles, mandolins, fiddles, guitars, banjos, and a dobro.
MC Earl Workman gave the big hula hoop a whirl before getting to his official duties. A cornhole tournament was the first order of the day. It is a Saturday staple at Norwalk.
Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers opened the stage show. Larry woke up Saturday morning to no voice. He recruited his former banjo player and singer, Chris Smith, to help out. Larry does the Stanley style of music that Chris does with his band, Caney Creek. Larry had a brother/sister team from the Wright family with him. They sang a duet that showed off their sibling harmony.
Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass did their first set. This is one of the historic bands in bluegrass. The original band was Paisleys and Lundys, with Danny’s dad. It is now the younger generations of Paisleys and Lundys. Danny describes his music as “old timey.” It is the best possible description.
Hammertowne followed Danny. They have become one of the powerhouse bands. They are a good combination of great musicians and songwriters.
The highlight of the festival has come about due to a scramble to replace a last minute cancellation at last year’s festival. It is called “Stump the Band,” and is perhaps the most fun and important part of the weekend. Lori Lambert took charge of this program. She spent the weekend selling tickets that allowed attendees to choose up to three songs to “Stump the Band.” She had earlier contacted band members and asked them to participate. She threw their names in a hat and created four bands. The original idea was that anytime the band was stumped, they would pay a dollar for each band member. Dave Carroll said: “This is gonna be easy. I’m always stumped!” MC Terri Grannis said that she knew bluegrass musicians didn’t have a dollar and invited audience members to sponsor each stump. The stumps and the money began to roll in.
When all was said and done Kurt and Betty Jo Hickman presented a check for $4,079.00 to Alzheimer’s Association representative Pam Myers. A big thank you has to go to Jeremie Cole and the Friends of the Marshall Bluegrass Festival for donating over one third of the total. The bluegrass family showed their generosity yet again.
The stage show resumed with Kyle Jarvis and 3rd Generation. These young men have put together an enduring sound. Saturday marked the release of their self-titled new release.
Tony Holt and the Wildwood Valley Boys brought the familiar sounds of the Boys From Indiana to the Norwalk stage. The lineup presented its own history. Tony and Tom Feller are Holt lineage from the Boys From Indiana. Stanley Efaw from the Bluegrass Mountaineers. Wes Miller, son of Jimmy Miller of the Dixie Gospelaires rounded out the Ohio/Indiana connections.
Lukewarm and the Not-So-Hots gave the audience a big dose of honky tonk music. Pay no attention to the kick drummer behind the curtain! Thanks Blair!
Danny Paisley closed out the festival with great old time bluegrass music.
Danny and Kurt were both all smiles after a fun day.
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