Roosterfest last Sunday was a wonderful day full of awesome music, with folks reuniting, catching up, swapping stories and remembering the great Rooster Ruley who passed away earlier this year
Rooster was a truly unique character who seemed to be from an earlier time in many ways. He was an amazing musician, and could be a hilarious guy to talk to with his own way of looking at things to be sure. Roosterfest did a really good job of catching some of that. His repair abilities and his music had touched so many people over the course of his life, and many of them came out to pay their respects and jam on some tunes, often ones that Rooster would have liked to get a piece of himself.
I pulled in after seeing the sign duct taped up marking Roosterfest. The duct tape made me smile as it reminded me of Rooster already, who could rig up and fix so many cars and random things with his low cost, random, dusty odds and ends in piles that he kept everywhere.
Continuing on with the Rooster theme one was greeted by a huge Franken-Rooster walking from the parking lot. I heard the gigantic Franken-Rooster came with Marc Cline who also emceed during the day as Barney Fife. Marc is also well known in the area for being the one who made Foam-Henge (a life size replica of Stone Henge made all of styrofoam, they tell me. I must now go and check that out next time I am in Rockbridge County).
Rooster’s van was on display there too. It had actually been driven to its location there. I remember many a time when Rooster had towed his little van into a festival so that he could camp in it, and then towed it back home.
The first band of the day was Burr Datz and his large bluegrass band assortment of fine pickers from many ages and walks of life. From that point on there was music on and off stage for the rest of the day. There was straight ahead bluegrass, old time, jazz grass, and sure enough some “what-not” or “other” category going on. Steve Holk, The Hall Brothers, Nothin Fancy (with a few different folks than usual) Ricky and Will Lee and Ruth Huffman and their gang, and many more.
Then came the long set with Wyatt Rice, Mark Schatz, Nate Leath, and rotating kick-butt banjo guys. There was Tommy Morse, Buddy Wolf, Will Lee, Sammy Shelor, and Rex McGee each one at a time, and then all together up there. This was the CD Release Band for Rooster’s new album called Rooster’s Ruckus, and they played tunes off the CD like Lady of Spain, Ground Speed, Bye Bye Blues and some classic tunes Rooster was known for like Bugle Call Rag.
The folks on stage were telling their Rooster stories, as were folks all around Roosterfest. Mark Schatz told a few great ones like the one where he first met Rooster. Mark had a gig in Lexington and ended up needing a bass for the show. Rooster showed up with two basses for him to chose from. Neither one was set up like Mark was used to, so Rooster got out an old hack saw and cut that neck down to Mark’s specs right there.
Available for purchase was the new Rooster’s Ruckus CD, Rooster T-shirts, and bumper stickers.
It was a day full of great music, hilarious stories and good times with that central Rooster theme. They just don’t make folks like Rooster too often, and I can’t imagine a better way for him to be remembered than at an all out throw down music fest in his honor with hordes of bluegrass buddies.