Twelve years ago the Old Hippie, Jerry Eicher, and restaurateur, the late Randy Beckey, had an idea. Blissfield Bluegrass on the River was born from that idea. August 13th marked the 11th edition of the festival in Blissfield, Michigan, a village in the southeast area of the state and near the Ohio/Michigan line. Bachmayer Park is a village gem on the bank of the River Raisin. The park is the home of BBoR, co presented by the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association and the Blissfield Rotary. It is a free show that is supported by area business sponsorship. The festival has been and continues to be a showcase for local bands and talent.
Past Rotary President, Russell Quinton, always gives a few words of welcome to the attendees. Jerry Eicher has been the MC from the outset.
Kimberley Leach opened the festival with a stirring rendition of the national anthem.
The local bands performing on the main and side stages were: The Gailbraith Clan, The Red White and Bluegrass Band, Bridge County, JT and Thunderhill, The New Memphis Express, The Jesse Manns Bluegrass Band, Kimberley Leach, Patsy Anne and Bobby Hutch, Wolf Creek Risin’, Genevieve Rose, Tom Silvious, and Bruce Fogelsong. 91 year old Bobby Hutch, after 75+ years as a professional musician, chose the festival to showcase his final professional show. Have a great retirement!!
This year’s kids corner featured the SMBMA Instrument Petting Zoo for kids of all ages to get the feel of a bluegrass instrument. Visitors were also treated to a drawstring backpack of goodies including a canjo. They also signed up for raffle for a nice mid-sized guitar that was given away later in the afternoon.
Association member, Bill Rozier, once again conducted the pie auction to the high spirited crowd. A big thank you to Tom Silvious for providing the pies.
The festival highlight is the induction of new members into the SMBMA Hall of Honor. The class of 2022 includes Brad Campbell, Wayne Holcombe, the late Terry Nisley, Dan Taylor, and Larry Taylor. All have been and continue to be contributors to bluegrass in our area. Michelle Nisley accepted on her late husband’s behalf.
The festival was able to bring in Donna Ulisse and the Poor Mountain Boys as the feature act. Donna presented two great sets of music. She also conducted a songwriter’s workshop to a big audience. PMB banjo player, Greg Davis, gave a banjo workshop and was assisted by Nate Burie.
On a personal note – a great big THANK YOU to all of the volunteers that make the festival possible. A couple of special thanks yous to the Blissfield Cheer Squad for helping with the parking, and the young men from the Maurice Spear School for the setup and teardown help.
Support your local music venues.