Marshall Bluegrass Festival 2023

Marshall All-Star Band closes out the 2023 Marshall Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren

Friday and Saturday were big days at the Marshall Bluegrass Festival in Michigan. A couple of thunderstorms blew through, but didn’t hit during any activities. The festival weather was nearly perfect!

Evan Dickerson brought his talk show to the festival and did several interviews. I caught up with him while he was interviewing promoter Jeremie Cole. Terri Grannis held the MC mic during the afternoon shows, and handed it off to me for the evening performances.

Friday Ottawa County, Foxtail Grass, and Out of the Blue did their second sets of the weekend. Out of the Blue announced that they were performing their final show after 21 years as a band. Band leader and last founding member, Jeff Lawless, said that they all decided it was time for a break. The band will be missed.

Caleb Daugherty has become a staple at Marshall. He brings a strong combination of bluegrass and classic country to the stage.

Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers represent the old-time mountain stylings of Ralph Stanley to festival stages. 

Edgar Loudermilk did two shows on Friday before heading to Canada for the rest of the weekend. Edgar has become one of the busier musicians and promoters, and now promotes several festivals.

Fast Track closed out the Friday show and honored the late Ron Spears on what would have been his 70th birthday.

Saturday features the Marshall Band Scramble. Jan Green has organized the scramble for over 20 years. She does a blind draw to create bands. They have 30 minutes or so to put together three songs to present to the audience. This year there were six bands. There were more knobby knees on display than would be seen in a cypress swamp!!! 😊 The music was good and is always a lot of fun.

Jeremie then gave out a couple awards. The first was for the Marshall Bluegrass Person of the Year. This year’s recipient is Aaron Green. Aaron is a long time supporter of the festival. The second award is new this year. The festival has started a scholarship program promoting higher education. This year’s recipient is Simon Vinson. He is an honor student at Colon High School. He is going to Indiana Wesleyan for pre-med this fall. Jeremie and his fiancé, Alexus Ross, presented a check for $4,300 to Simon.

Ohio band Crabgrass kicked off the afternoon show. The band features brothers Kevin and Andy Crabtree along with Bill Conley as a vocal trio.

The Country Gentlemen Tribute Band was up next. They provide a trip down memory lane. Darren Beachley has joined the band on dobro and vocals rounding out the sound of the band. 

Kevin Prater has a tenor voice that gives one goose bumps when he lets it all out. He joined the Gents for a song. Good stuff. He has young Bailey Moore as his bass player and bass singer. Bailey is the nephew of the late Jason Moore.

The festival was closed out in a throw-back reminiscent of old festival grand finales. Jeremie called it the Marshall All-Star Band. Kevin Prater, Caleb Daugherty, Brad Campbell, and Bo Isaac were joined by youngsters Kyle Ramey and Bailey Moore to put on about an hour and a half of up-tempo music that had the crowd on their feet “hootin’ and hollerin!!’ “

Through it all Dave and Traci Chichester were hard at work behind the sound board for GBS Productions, one of the most in-demand sound companies in the central US.

I caught up with Jeremie and Alexus at the very end of a long week. They were tired, but still smiling. They had a successful week!

One of the striking things of the whole festival is the number of excellent young musicians that are in many of the bands. Bluegrass is in good hands!

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