Sideline at the 2017 SamJam – photo by Mike Runyon
You probably already know that Sideline is a fun-loving bunch of bluegrass pickers. A band that started out specifically as a part time, or sideline venture, they have become one of the busiest acts on the circuit, touring all over the United States from their home base in North Carolina.
The band was started by Steve Dilling, long time banjo picker with IIIrd Tyme Out, after he left that group for health reasons. Steve figured he could handle a less rigorous road schedule, and enlisted his son-in-law, Skip Cherryholmes, and his good buddy Jason Moore to start a little band to play some shows close to home. As Steve was feeling better, and a legitimate fan base for their music developed, Sideline soon found themselves working a festival or concert most every weekend, and now have 7-12 dates most every month.
They have a pair of albums with Mountain Fever Records, and a strong stage show also featuring Nathan Aldridge on fiddle, Brad Hudson on reso-guitar, and Troy Boone on mandolin.
When they played this past weekend at the 2nd annual SamJam in Piketon, OH, the promoters had an idea to spring a surprise on the crowd. Sammy Karr and Rick Greene talked with Steve some months ago, and suggested that they discreetly switch out Skip’s guitar for their last number, and then have him smash it to bits as the conclusion to their set. Those of us old enough to remember the late ’60s will recall when this was a staple of British rock, with The Who and Jimi Hendrix in particular mining this vein of extreme showmanship.
So as the guys jumped into their set-ending version of Lee Highway Blues, the demise of a flatop box was in the offing.
Skip threw himself into the act, and reduced the guitar to splinters and bits. The audience whooped it up and had a big laugh, especially the ones who noticed him retreat to the back of that stage and swap guitars before the big finish.
But as things go in the Internet of things, certain people couldn’t resist being outraged and jumped to heap condemnation on Skip for ruining a valuable instrument when the video was posted online.
Finally Steve intervened to explain that it wasn’t a prized guitar, and it was the promoters’ idea, and they were just playing along.
I guess they wouldn’t have enjoyed the old mandolin toss at Galax some years ago, or the idea we had once for a flaming fiddle launch at Felts Park.
But it seems a good time was had by all, in the park at least, and Sideline lives to smash another day. Not so great for the guitar, but c’est la vie.
Let’s keep the fun in bluegrass, people!