Rhonda Vincent & The Rage at the 2019 Milan Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren
The 22nd Milan Bluegrass Festival has come to a close after a Friday and Saturday that were filled with music and fun.
Friday started with upper peninsula of Michigan band Chasin’ Steel. This is a group of guys that started with a common love of fishing and discovered their common love of music. They have an eclectic mix of original music that is fun to listen to. Next up was a Michigan icon, The RFD Boys who are celebrating their 50th year of making music in Southeast Michigan. They have long been considered the house band at the Ark in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Three of the four original members continue this great tradition.
The Jeff Parker Band made its first appearance at the festival. Jeff was a mainstay for the first ten years of the Dailey and Vincent group. He has now stepped out to be the front man of a traditional bluegrass band. Trinity River Band has become a regular visitor to the Milan festival. The Harris family works diligently at their craft and has become one of the premier family bands.
Russell Moore pulled double duty at the festival. His first duty was inducting 87 year old Ruby Bennett into the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Honor. Ruby, who owned a restaurant in Monroe, Michigan, would often go to a local bluegrass show, then reopen her restaurant late at night and cook a meal for the traveling bands. Russell was treated to her meals as a member of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. He then closed out the Friday show with IIIrd Tyme Out. He is once again nominated as IBMA’s Male Vocalist of the Year.
Saturday was started off by Dave Adkins exploding onto the Milan stage. Dave is one of the “bigger than life” personalities on the bluegrass circuit. Dave has several Michigan appearances throughout the month of August. He will be a part of Jeep Fest on the 9th and 10th and then is part of a new one day festival in Lincoln on the 24th. Michigan’s own Detour once again graced the Milan stage. The band went on hiatus two or three years ago. They are now playing a few select shows.
Special Consensus made its first Michigan appearance in a number of years. They were the host band for the 20 year run of the Auburn Hills Parade of stars. Band leader Greg Cahill was inducted into the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association Hall of Honor for his work in the area through IBMA’s Bluegrass in the Schools initiative. Greg did over 90 assemblies in area schools. Other bands followed his example also doing assemblies in the area.
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage are the Saturday anchor at Milan. She has appeared on Saturday for many of the festival’s 22 year run, and is again nominated as IBMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year. Jimmy Kittle has been a part of the sound crew for all of the Milan festivals. He has around 30 years of experience doing sound along with the late Ralph Paige. Jimmy retired at the end of this year’s festival. He was also inducted into the Hall of Honor by festival promoter, Mark Gaynier, and Hall of Honor committee chair Ron Benton. The Gibson Brothers closed out the festival with Leigh playing his little brother role to the max. Eric and Leigh have brought the brother duet to the forefront of bluegrass music in a way that would make their predecessors proud.
Next year’s festival will be on August 5, 6, 7, and 8.
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