Last night John and I attended a showcase hosted by Marty Raybon and his band Full Circle. The show was a media event, by invitation only, designed to generate the kind of post I’m writing right now. While I’ve known for several years that Marty was one of the best singers in the business, last night’s show cemented that opinion. I’d have to say the band Marty has together right now is the best he’s had since his return to bluegrass a few years ago.
All of the band members enjoyed an easy camaraderie performing with smiles as genuine as their music. Scott Napier is the newest member of the band and his mandolin style really complements the musical direction that Marty is steering. Glen Harrell’s fiddle playing was tastefully appropriate and I saw Marty break into a big grin several times during a fiddle solo indicating that Glen had done something unexpected and enjoyable. Shane Blackwell contributed some great guitar pickin and even vocals on a couple numbers. Derek Dillman comes to Full Circle after several years as a Sunny Mountain Boy with the late King of Bluegrass, Jimmy Martin. Edgar Loudermilk, holding down both the low end and the high – playing bass and singing tenor, is not only a great musical asset but also an integral part of the stage show. Marty is a great entertainer and very easily adapted to the audience he was playing to. Combine that with Loudermilk’s contributions of exuberance and sharp movement on stage and the show really comes to life.
The music was great, but what really impressed me was the show. The presentation was well above standard for a bluegrass band, professional and personal at the same time. Marty managed to turn the audience’s lack of response to a joke, into one of the funniest moments of the evening, a skill you only witness in true professionals.
I was also pleased to hear Marty express his respect for, and desire to preserve, the purity of bluegrass music. He explained his vision for the direction of the band, and their goal to expose a new audience to bluegrass. Much like Jerry Douglas’ keynote monday night, Marty seems intent on “injecting them all with bluegrass” as Douglas put it. He does intend to play venues not normally on a bluegrass act’s tour schedule and while delivering the show those promoters expect, he plans to inject bluegrass into the mix. He also talked about his passion for the undiluted pure bluegrass he was playing last night and will be playing at bluegrass festivals all next year.
I took a few photos during the show and I got a few good ones that I’ll share with you here. Oh, and Marty served a fried chicken dinner with cole slaw and desert. Thanks Marty!