It’s always encouraging to see bluegrass being supported by those outside the genre, but it comes as no surprise that the state of Virginia, with it’s rich bluegrass heritage, would be involved in promoting bluegrass music.
The Virginia Department of Conservation and Recreation is sponsoring a tour called Blowin’ the Dust Off. The series features Steve Bassett along with bluegrass band, Michelle Nixon & Drive. The tour includes stops at sixteen Virginia State Parks beginning at Natural Tunnel State Park in Duffield, VA on May 5, 2007. Each concert will be accompanied by a “Picker’s Camp” and a display/demonstration of pre-1900’s music instruments. Tickets are $4 for adults, with children 12 and under getting in free.
Bassett is a singer who’s style has been described as a synthesis of America’s roots music. But he’s not bluegrass, so I won’t dwell on his contribution to the series.
Michelle Nixon & Drive however, are bluegrass. Nixon is a Virginia girl with a decidedly Virginia sounding bluegrass band. She has won awards from SPBGMA in recent years for her traditional style vocals. She is also a part of the IBMA award winning Daughters of Bluegrass group. And her band…what can I say?
The band consists of Patrick Robertson on guitar and vocals, Jamie Harper on mandolin, fiddle and vocals, Jeremy Boling on banjo, and Travis Greer on bass and vocals. I must admit some partiality where this band is concerned. Some of the guys are hometown pickers from this part of Southwest Virginia and so I have a natural pride in their accomplishment. And while Jeremy Boling is a recent transplant to this part of Virginia, he is truely a hometown picker for me. We both grew up in the Kansas City, MO area and I’ve known and picked with him since we were both youngsters. With that disclaimer out of the way, I will say this a great sounding bluegrass band and you should take the time to check them out if you haven’t already.
Visit the Blowin’ the Dust Off tour website for more information and a full listing of Park locations.