This early report from the 2014 edition of the Red, White & Bluegrass festival last week is a contribution from Jessica Boggs, an enthusiastic bluegrass fan in East Tennessee.
Sweltering heat couldn’t keep fans from coming out to the first day of Red, White, and Bluegrass in Morganton, NC this past Thursday. Although temperatures hovered near 90 for much of the day, a full afternoon and evening of bands kicked the festival’s eleventh year off in style. I had the pleasure of attending the festival for the first time this year, and quickly found out that it’s one of the finest bluegrass events around.
Thursday’s lineup included the Tone Blazers, Eddie Rose & Highway Forty, The Lost and Found, Balsam Range, and Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out. I was able to catch most of the music throughout the day and really enjoyed what I heard. One of the highlights for me was seeing The Lost and Found for the first time after years of listening to their music. Allen Mills was in fine form, cracking jokes and singing quite a few of the band’s hits, while Scott Napier’s mandolin playing was particularly on point.
Semi-local boys Balsam Range seemed to be the crowd favorite, especially when they played songs from their new album, Five. Buddy Melton’s original a capella Gospel number Stacking Up the Rocks was both impressive and poignant as it followed Tim Surrett’s acknowledgement of Melton’s accident a few years ago and the band’s gratefulness for all the prayers they received during that time. Everything That Glitters Is Not Gold and From a Georgia Battlefield, also off the new record, were other standouts in an excellent set.
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out closed out the night, and as usual, were rock solid. This was the second time I had seen the group with its two new members, and it’s safe to say that the band is as good as ever. It’s hard to beat Moore’s voice and the audience was clearly appreciative.
Although I was only able to attend one day of the festival, it was more than enough to peak my interest. I’ll definitely be back next year!