Hot Pickin’ at Red White & Bluegrass

The photos accompanying this review of the first day at Red, White & Bluegrass were taken by Laura Tate Ridge.

To say thousands braved day one of Red White & Bluegrass in Morganton, North Carolina is an understatement. While temperatures reached 105 degrees, fans searched for every square inch of shade. One festival-goer joked “it was so hot the birds were using oven mitts to get worms out of the ground.” Vendors reported bottled water as the day’s best seller.

The blistering heat was also a challenge for musicians. The United States Navy Band, Country Current, wore the group’s traditional summer white uniforms. The band joked, “don’t let the white fool you. It’s like wearing a plastic garbage bag. No air gets through.”

The Boxcars didn’t go on stage until 6:30 p.m., but the temperature was still above 100 degrees. Bass player Harold Nixon says it was the “hottest day I’ve ever played.”

Adam Steffey’s shirt was drenched before the first song. He said the challenge was sliding up and down the strings. While the eight-time IBMA mandolin player of the year said his fingers “felt like sandpaper,” The Boxcars were in usual form and drew thunderous applause from the appreciative crowd.

The band’s performance at the 9th annual Red White & Bluegrass was captured as a live recording. Nixon says the band will determine later if any cuts make it on a new album, or will be released online through The Boxcars website.

Day One headliners were the Steep Canyon Rangers. The band drove 14 hours through the night after performing Friday night in Michigan, and wore their traditional dress shirts and ties on stage. Fiddle player Nicky Sanders added a sports coat to his wardrobe. On this sweltering night, his fiddle playing was hotter than the weather.

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About the Author

Dan Cates

Dan is News Director at WSPA and WYCW television stations in Spartanburg, South Carolina. He authored the book "Are The Children Safe" and has written for various publications, including Bluegrass Unlimited. In addition to songwriting, he plays mandolin and guitar.