Williamson Branch at the 2023 Charlotte Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren
Thursday marked the start of the 51st Charlotte Bluegrass Festival. It is held at the Eaton County Fairgrounds in Charlotte (pronounced Shar-lot), Michigan. Wes Pettinger took over promotion of the festival several years ago after the passing of long time promoter Jim Wilder. A full campground greeted the fans who drove in Thursday. Terri Grannis and Duffy Brown hold down the MC slots as they have for several years. GBS Sound makes each band sound its best.
A new band with some seasoned musicians kicked off the stage show. The Next Paige is a Michigan based band that is headed by the owners of Paige Capo, Brian and Lisa Paige. They have a traditional sound that was enjoyed by the audience.
Crabgrass from Ohio was up next. The band is headed by brothers Andy and Kevin Crabtree. There are a festival favorite in the Michigan/Ohio/Indiana area.
Michigan/Ohio band Harbourtown is the host band for both Charlotte and the Marshall Bluegrass Festivals. They are playing in a wide variety of festivals from Michigan to Tennessee. The band features musicians who have played with Don Rigsby, Marty Raybon, and Bill Monroe.
The Edgar Loudermilk Band has become a Charlotte regular – promoter Pettinger was the banjo player for the band for three or four years. He joined the band for a few tunes during the second set. He and current banjoist Anthony Howell did a couple twin banjo tunes. On Saturday morning the band will host The Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association’s Instrument Petting Zoo. Kids of all ages will get to play instruments and be mentored by the band.
Williamson Branch made their Michigan debut to close out the day’s show. They are a high-energy family band that keeps an audience enthralled. They will return on Friday for two more sets of fun.
The David Mayfield Parade, The Amanda Cook Band, and the Kody Norris Show will join the Friday lineup. Saturday sees New Outlook, The Lonesome River Band, Full Cord, and Michael Cleveland joining Kody Norris for another big day of music.
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