Jekyll Island New Year’s Bluegrass festival

The 2020 bluegrass festival season has officially been kicked of with the opening day of the 44th Jekyll Island New Year’s Bluegrass festival. This event also marks the beginning of the transition of the Adams festivals from Norman and Judy Adams to Ernie and Debi Evans. Norman and Judy have been a mainstay on the festival scene for nearly fifty years, and are mentoring Ernie and Debi for the rest of 2020. Their retirement is well deserved. Ernie and Debi know they have big shoes to fill and are up to the task.

Emcee Sherry Boyd, one of the premier emcees on the bluegrass festival circuit, told the crowd that “change is inevitable. She opened the show by bringing on one of the best of the newer bands, Carolina Blue.

Carolina Blue has developed a highly entertaining stage persona in addition to their top flight musicianship. They give full measure of a range of bluegrass music – from Monroe to their original music. Fiddler Aynsley Porchak has added a championship dimension to the band that is rarely equaled. Banjo player James McDowell plays many styles that add depth to the band. Mandolinist Timmy Jones honors Bill Monroe with his playing, while Bobby Powell and Reese Combs round out the band instrumentally and vocally.

Sideline was up next. They have gone from a part time gig to a full time powerhouse. Veterans Steve Dilling and Jason Moore lead a group of young, but seasoned musicians. Steve’s son-in-law Skip Cherryholmes lends some of the best guitar power in bluegrass. Jacob Greer, Zack Arnold, and Jamie Harper round out the band. They provide plenty of original music in addition to a few older tunes.

Florida’s own Penny Creek followed Sideline. They are an excellent regional band that provides great diversity in their music. All five members can sing lead in their own style. They are celebrating 15 years of performing in 2020, and play a couple nights a week in their home base of Melbourne, Florida. See them if you are in their area.

Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out have been a festival favorite for nearly thirty years. Their vocal and instrumental excellence has not changed. Russell has always surrounded himself with great musicians. Wayne Benson has held down the mandolin spot for many of those years. Donnie Carver has been Russell’s sound man for over twenty five years. Russell always credits Donnie with making the band sound its best. Nathan Aldridge, Keith McKinnon, and Dustin Pyrtle round out the group. 3TO is always a must see!

The Gibson Brothers closed out the day with a rousing set of music. Eric and Leigh have become one of the most in-demand bands today. They have terrific original music and do great honor to many of the brother duets of the past. Mike Barber has been their bass player for nearly twenty seven years. Justin Moses provides mandolin, dobro, and harmonies. Leigh is still the stereotypical little brother, taking not-quite-so-subtle jabs at older brother Eric. Eric managed a couple shots in return. We know it is all in good fun, and lends a certain character to a brother act. Sierra Hull joined the band for some tunes to close out the evening. She is an IBMA Mandolin Player of the Year. 

Join Norman, Judy, Ernie, and Debi for more great music on Friday and Saturday.

Friday features The Farm Hands, The Primitive Quartet, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and the Appalachian Road Show.

Saturday brings Kentucky Just Us, The US Navy Band Country Current, The Little Roy and Lizzie Show, Rhonda Vincent & the Rage, and The Malpass Brothers.

Support your local music venues.