Whether it’s generals Robert E. Lee and George G. Meade or the musicians at the Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, this resort village in the rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania will always be a place where the North meets the South.
The stage was set Thursday, August 13 for the first day of the August 2015 festival at the Granite Hill Camping Resort, located 5 miles west of the Gettysburg National Military Park. Mirroring Gen. Lee’s 1863 invasion of the North during the U.S. Civil War, it was a southern band that opened the festival.
Crowded around a microphone in front of a North Carolina flag, the four members of Chatham County Line performed their first set as the audience settled in to eight hours of non-stop music. Announcing their appearance on the band’s website, front man Dave Wilson joked, “We’re headed north this week for the Gettysburg Festival where I guess none of the boys will wear their blue suits.” Two of his bandmates didn’t get the memo; John Teer on mandolin and Chandler Holt on banjo both wore navy blue suits. Wilson was the only one dressed in gray.
Wardrobe didn’t matter as the quartet played two solid sets, including songs from their latest CD Tightrope plus the song Living in Raleigh Now, which was inspired by the International Bluegrass Music Association’s decision to move its fall convention from its headquarters in Nashville, Tennessee to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Between sets, Wilson told Bluegrass Today that the band will be heading to the studio later this month to begin recording another album.
“We’re going to the Fidelitorium in Kernersville (North Carolina) and record a whole slew of new tunes,” Wilson said. “We’re hoping that our workshop set here in 15 minutes will be an excuse to work on our new stuff.”
Following Chatham County Line on stage were the Lonesome River Band, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and the New York-based Gibson Brothers, who traveled to Gettysburg the day after announcing the 2015 IBMA award nominees on SiriusXM’s Bluegrass Junction show in Nashville with host Kyle Cantrell.
The Gibson Brothers will be hosting the IBMA award ceremony this fall, and they were nominated for four awards: Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Album of the Year for “Brotherhood” and Gospel Recorded Performance of the Year for “What a Wonderful Savior Is He.” Plus the band’s Jesse Brock was nominated Mandolin Player of the Year.
In addition to touring and writing new songs, Eric and Leigh Gibson have been busy working with IBMA award show producers to help prepare for their hosting duties. Now that the nominees have been announced, it’s time to start writing the show.
“We talked to the writer last night,” Leigh said. “They had to wait to see who the nominees were, which is going to tell the direction of the script. … We now know our cast of characters, and Craig (Shelburne) is going to move forward.”
The IBMA Awards Show will be held Thursday, Oct. 1 at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts, Memorial Auditorium, in Raleigh. The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival continued through Sunday, Aug. 16. For more information, visit online.