Po’ Ramblin’ Boys at the 2019 Milan Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren
Wednesday dawned clear and seasonably cool at the Milan Bluegrass Festival. Summer and Brayden McMahan hosted the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association instrument petting zoo. Festival promoter, Mark Gaynier, introduced them to the youngsters and told them to have fun learning a little about the instruments. Braydon told the kids that he learned to play banjo on a “Plucky” style small banjo.
Festival MC, Blake Williams, started the day off by bringing Remington Ryde to the Milan stage for the first time. They provide a good mix of solid traditional music and also paid tribute to the late James King. The band honored the veterans and their spouses that were in the audience. Summer Brooke and Mountain Faith then took the stage and gave the audience full measure of the more progressive side of bluegrass music. Summer and Bray are playing at next weekend’s Jeep Fest kickoff party in Monroe, Michigan. They took time out to make a fun promo video in a new Jeep. Summer really thought that she should take the Jeep home to North Carolina!
Larry Stephenson made a return engagement to the Milan festival after an absence of several years. Larry is one of the most recognizable voices in bluegrass music and is celebrating 30 years fronting his band. His current project is simply titled 30, and the audience always wants just one more song. The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys were up next. Jereme Brown played his then brand new banjo on the Milan stage when he was 12 years old. It was his first time playing for an audience, 16 or 17 years ago. Josh Rinkel was also tagging along with Tommy Brown and Countyline Grass, and learning how to be the best musician he could be. Josh and Jereme along with C. J. and Jasper have brought traditional music to the forefront with their youthful enthusiasm. They are a band to see.
Sammy Shelor and the Lonesome River Band closed out the day’s entertainment. LRB sets a standard for other bands to strive towards.
Thursday is another big day of music at Milan. Mike Cleveland, Nothin’ Fancy, Amanda Cook, Joe Mullins, and Hammertowne all hit the festival stage.
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