Thursday at Jekyll Island Bluegrass ’23

Deeper Shade of Blue at the 2023 Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren

The Evans Media Source winter festival season has started. Thursday opened the season on Jekyll Island, Georgia. Bluegrass fans have been gathering for the Jekyll Island Bluegrass Festival for over 45 years. This year’s festival includes some new activities. There is a press room set up for interviews. Ron Cornett is doing his Bluegrass On The Road radio show there, and interviewing a number of artists. 

Before the show started, Penny Creek’s John Apfelthaler showed me a banjo he was picking. It was Snuffy Smith’s. The gentleman that owns it said it was on consignment at Gruhn Guitars and he happened to be there with money in his pocket!

The stage show is overseen by Sherry Boyd. She is an artist and fan favorite. GBS Sound is handling the house sound and is assisted by the EMS sound crew.

Justin Mason and Blue Night opened the stage show. They are a Florida/Georgia band. Twins Bryce and Brett Griffin hold down the mandolin and bass slots. Their dad, Josh, drives the banjo. They are the Georgia contingent. Justin, Mary Kate Brennan, and Lester Canada are the Florida bunch. They did several songs in tribute to the Osborne Brothers. The Saturday show will feature a tribute to Sonny and Bobby.

Next up was Penny Creek. They have been a staple of Florida bluegrass for a number of years. The band members trade off singing lead. They have a camaraderie on stage that comes from their years of performing together.

Jeff and Sheri Easter brought their gospel show to the Jekyll audience. They pay homage to both the Lewis Family and the Easter Brothers throughout their show. They presented a couple video clips –  one of the Lewis Family with Sheri’s mother Polly singing lead, and one of Jeff singing with his father James.

Deeper Shade of Blue is in on the schedule for two days. They give a high energy show that has made them favorites in the bluegrass community. Milom Williams has recently joined the band on mandolin. He is one of the few left handed players around. Caroline Owens came up to duet with Troy Pope for a song. Caroline is one of the young folks keeping the bluegrass tradition alive and well.

Dailey & Vincent closed out the day with a 90 minute show that ran the gamut of bluegrass, gospel, classic country, and some of their latest country music. There is little left to say about this group of artists. They can make you cry. They can make you laugh. And they can leave you with your mouth hanging open!

There are two more fun days of music remaining. Come to the island to see Tim Graves, Terry Baucom, The Malpass Brothers, The Grascals, Larry Stephenson, Rhonda Vincent, Bobby Osborne, and the salute to the Osborne Brothers.

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