This post is a contribution from Tom Bibey, one of our 2010 IBMA correspondents. He reports here on the Monday night main stage showcases. You can see his profile here.
Katie Penn and New Town is a young band that typifies a new generation. These kids can play, and have technical abilities that exceed that of their elders. They are solid pickers and sing fine lead and harmony vocals. A female voice in the mix always adds a dimension, and Ms. Penn is an excellent bluegrass fiddler. They can handle mournful ballads and hard driving bluegrass with equal ease.
It is a strange phenomenon, though. Years ago, few bands played like this, and now it seems they all can. It is hard to know how promoters decide what distinguishes one fine band from another. Still, this group should see significant festival bookings for their exposure on their IBMA Showcase.
Rodney Dillard combines Branson showmanship, old timey bluegrass, and pure entertainment in a way few can. He has an ability to make the old sound new and original even after you’ve heard the song hundreds of times. His singing is clear and unique; he sings but two lines and you know it has to be Rodney Dillard, ‘cause you grew up with him.
Famous, yet down home and unpretentious, he’s a sure crowd pleaser at any venue. His new CD is titled I Wish Life was Like Mayberry. I expect he will find many fans in his travels who wish the same. There is a Time is timeless indeed, and will surely grant Rodney, his wife, his band, The Dillards, Charlene, and the Darling family some small piece of immortality on Earth. Most of us can only dream our art might do as much. Congratulations, Rodney Dillard. Well deserved.
[Editor’s note] Here is a brief clip of Rodney’s remake of the Dillards classic, There Is A Time, famously sung by Charlene Darling on The Andy Griffith Show in 1963.
There Is A Time: [http://www.ruralrhythm.com/audio/clip_There%20Is%20A%20Time_Rodney%20Dillard.mp3]