RockyGrass – Day 2

This Saturday RockyGrass report comes from banjo man Jake Schepps, whose banjo album based on the music of Béla Bartok, An Evening In The Village, will be released soon.

The day was packed with an incredible amount of killer music. Festivities began at 9:45 with the instrument contest finals (which for future reference can be streamed on our local radio station KGNU, interspersed with highlights from Friday festival sets). Della Mae with special guest Courtney Hartman followed, and brought the house down. Sharp left turns from bluegrass happens frequently on the RockyGrass stage, and Mike Marshall and Caterina Lichtenberg played a spellbinding set of mandolin duos; music from Italy, choros from Brazil, Bach, and original compositions. The Krüger Brothers then followed. I am not sure there is any other way of describing it other than they are magical.  Of note was Jens Krüger’s face-melting solo on Eric Clapton’s song People Get Ready.

I unfortunately missed Sarah Jarosz’s set to catch the Artistworks Academy of Bluegrass Instructor performance. For those unfamiliar with this new school, Tony Trischka, Bryan Sutton, Darol Anger, Mike Marshall, and Missy Raines are the faculty for a new online community for bluegrass education. Artistworks had a film crew here to film the instructors all playing together in the Wildflower Pavilion. While these veterans are able to shred, and they certainly had their full chops on display, they emphasized the fact that the 5 teachers really break down the components of their respective instruments into manageable chunks in the lessons. I reviewed the Tony Trischka School of Banjo for Banjo Newsletter last year, and am a huge fan of this new system of education. Some very smart people are behind this, on both the technical and visionary side of things.

At 10 years old (in 1979) I joined the Steve Martin Fan Club and have been a life long fan of his work. Seeing him live for the first time surpassed all my expectations. The show with the Steep Canyon Rangers comes across as a bit more “theater,” but in the best sense. It is scripted, yet that never detracts from the well written jokes and perfectly timed punchlines. I feel incredibly privileged to have been able to see this collaboration, and the Rangers sounded fantastic. Go check them out if you can, while you can.

Hot Rize with Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers closed the festival stage. And a great set from Psychograss was tucked in the day somewhere.

And the evening finally ended at 3:00 a.m. after a fanatic jam with a plethora of Boston-based musicians from Joy Kills Sorrow and Della Mae.