River Raisin Acoustic Music Festival

Special Consensus at the 2019 River Raisin Acoustic Music Festival – photo © Bill Warren

The second River Raisin Acoustic Music Festival was held in the River Raisin Centre for the Arts in Monroe, Michigan this past Saturday. The Centre is a refurbished theater in downtown Monroe, Michigan. It hosts numerous events throughout the year. The event is a fundraiser to benefit Paula’s House and Gabby’s Grief Center. They are local non-profits providing services to the Monroe and surrounding area.

The show opened with three talented youngsters singing the National Anthem. Festival organizer, Terry Nisley, welcomed everyone and turned the program over to MC Jeff Tuttle from Nash Icon radio.

The first band up was a group of youngsters called The Pine Valley Travelers. They provided a set of music that ranged from old time claw hammer banjo, to Gospel, to traditional bluegrass. Next on the program was The Band of Brothers. This is a veteran group of musicians from the local area. The group includes former Jim and Jesse banjo player Tim Ellis. They are favorites all around the area.

Tom Treece and Friends followed with down-to-earth bluegrass Gospel music. Tom’s friends includes veteran and young musicians. Fulton County Bluegrass is another of the area’s veteran bluegrass bands. The always put on a quality bluegrass music show. Guncreek was up next, a new group made up of experienced musicians. They are anchored by banjo player Dana Cupp, a local boy who is well known as Bill Monroe’s last banjo player. He also stepped into the Sonny Osborne’s place as the banjo player with Bobby Osborne and the Rocky Top Express. Billie Irvine and Delmar (Bosco) Hackworth round out the vocal trio.

Matthew Thacker brought Route 23 to the RRCA. Matthew is carrying on the Route 23 name in honor of the late Ernie Thacker. Dana Cupp is also a part of this group, but as the mandolin player as he was with Jimmy Martin for a period of time. Kyle Jarvis and IIIrd Generation is a new group from central Ohio. The group is four young men who can only be classified as “young veterans.” They are working on their first studio project that will be released soon.

During the supper break the Kentuckians of Michigan president, Burl Stevens, told a little bit about the club and its mission. The club is on summer hiatus, but returns with its annual picnic and Friday night bluegrass shows in August. Rue Farms Potato Chips founder Jeanne Rue also spoke about Rue Farms and their commitment to supporting bluegrass music.

Mason Run took the stage midway through the evening sets. They are youngsters with a couple of mentors to guide them along. They are very entertaining and will be on the local scene for many years. The show was closed out by the Grammy nominated group, Special Consensus. Greg Cahill has lead the group for 44 years. Many of today’s bluegrass stars cut their teeth as a part of Special C. The audience always gets full measure when Special C is on stage. Dana Cupp joined Greg on stage to reprise their banjo duet of Groundspeed. They did that last some 20 years ago.

All-in-all, it was a very entertaining day with a great blend of young and veteran musicians.

The bluegrass festival season is kicking off in Michigan and Ohio. It will be a fun summer!

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