Tornado warnings can’t stop the Charlotte Bluegrass Festival!

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver at the 2021 Charlotte Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren

I think I can now describe what fifteen months of cabin fever does to people.

The Charlotte Bluegrass Festival is well known for having at least one day of rain. This year it had three, along with an evacuation for tornado warnings. No one left. After the all clear was given, the show went on!

Friday was damp, but it didn’t dampen band or audience enthusiasm. Promoter Wes Pettinger was interviewed by a local television station between raindrops and tasks. The stage was moved from the stage to the front of the audience pavilion due to the weather. It was the third set up of the weekend for GBS Sound. Dave and Traci were troopers through the whole weekend.

New Outlook kicked off the show with a variety of bluegrass and Gospel music.

The Kevin Prater Band followed. Kevin has one of the “big” voices in music. He gives his audience a full measure of hard driving bluegrass music.

Edgar Loudermilk is always a favorite at Charlotte. A lot of his music is the result of his songwriting ability. He also held a songwriting workshop for budding songwriters.

Charlotte is Audie Blaylock’s long time home festival. He and his band, Redline, closed out the Friday show. Audie is always welcomed home with open arms.

The Saturday afternoon show was the “calm before the storm.”

Kyle Jarvis and IIIrd Generation opened Saturday’s show. They are based in Ohio and play many festivals throughout the tri-state area.

Out of the Blue participated in the Old Hippie “RV Sessions” prior to their stage appearance. Jerry Eicher interviewed, and had a number of bands play, for the Old Hippie Bluegrass show. Out of the Blue will be the headliner at Blissfield Bluegrass on the River on August 14.

Fiddlin’ Dixie and Lil’ Friends presents a kids program at several Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana festivals. In a “normal” year there are hands on activities and an instrument petting zoo for the youngsters. This year Dixie is passing out “Gig To Go” bags to the kids.

Bobby Hamlin and the Lawless is a local band the played Charlotte for the first time.

The festival has had two MC’s splitting stage time. Duffy Brown lives in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario. The Canadian border remains closed to most travelers, so Duffy was unable to be at the festival. Her son and daughter-in-law park campers and run the ticket booth at the gate. He works in Canada, but can now travel back and forth. He couldn’t for a year, so he would work for two or three months and then come home to Michigan for a short period. Blair and Jennifer kept contact by going to the Blue Water Bridge on Friday evenings, have coffee, and Facetime each other from across the river. Wes called Duffy, put her on speaker phone, and let her know how much we all missed her.

The Family Sowell is a band that needs to be added to everyone’s “must see” list. This group of siblings cover a wide variety of music in addition to some of their original music.

The infamous band, Supper Break, was interrupted by tornado sirens going off, and just about everyone’s phone lighting up with warnings. Charlotte’s EMTs, fire department, and police department showed up within a minute to evacuate nearly everyone to the basement of the water treatment plant located just off the fairgrounds. It was pouring rain, so a bunch of completely soaked people spent a couple hours waiting out the storms. The emergency people passed out blankets to everyone that needed one. All of us thank the emergency crews for their prompt response and helpfulness. Charlotte can be proud of their emergency services.

GBS Sound reset the stage after the “all clear” was given and The Family Sowell and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver put on their evening performances. About 2/3 of the way into Doyle’s set another windy, rainy storm blew through – albeit briefly. Doyle and the band put their instruments in the dry and completed the set with acapella music. This is dedication!

The next stop for is the Norwalk Music Festival in Norwalk, Ohio. See you there!

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