IBMA After Hours – Monday night

Silver dagger at IBMA - Ricky Cooper, Ashley Caudill, Grace Van't Hof, Matt PurintonThe convention center was hopping last night for the late-night showcases, as it always is. It’s impossible to see all the bands play, or even to see everyone that you want to, so I generally settle for a representative sampling. My sampling last night was limited to after my own showcase (playing banjo with The Dixie Bee-Liners), but I did manage to catch some other acts.

I didn’t get to hear him play, but I walked by Casey Driessen, who was sitting on the floor in the hallway, preparing for his solo showcase. I complimented him on the cylindrical bushes in front of his house, which he tweeted about recently. They were a three-year pruning project. He’s not only a perfectionist when it comes to his playing…

I got to see the newest lineup of Special Consensus with their new guitar player, Ryan Roberts. As usual they killed, playing to a full room for the New England Bluegrass Coalition. IBMA President Greg Cahill always fields a top-notch lineup. I’m always amazed that he can manage the duties of President and still do late-night showcases. He must have almost as much energy as Little Roy Lewis.

Playing just after us in the Pickin’ in the Pavilion room was Asheville-based quartet Silver Dagger. Their banjo player is Grace Van’t Hof (what can I say, I always remember the banjo player!) and they were laying down a solid set. The duet with Grace and bass player Ashleigh Caudill was especially nice. You can catch them at showcases tonight as well.

Heather Berry and Tony MabeMy favorite act of the night, though, was Heather Berry and Tony Mabe. Playing on the Home Grown Music Stage I almost missed them because they appeared much later than they were listed on the schedule. Heather has one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard and both she and her husband Tony have so much musical talent, expressed in a pre-bluegrass duet style, that it’s just ridiculous. I caught their very last song and it should be a good indication of the fervor of their fans that we clapped until they played an encore, even though it was nearly 2 a.m.

One sight that stuck with me was Eddie Stubbs standing in the hallway, surrounded by the Quebe Sisters. I know he is a big fan of their band–a western-swing trio with Andrews-Sisters-style harmonies. If Eddie is a big fan of something, you know it’s worth paying attention to. They play an official showcase tonight and I predict that the buzz surrounding them will be close to deafening.