Lonesome Meadow at the 2017 Marshall Bluegrass Festival – photo © Bill Warren
Friday and Saturday were filled with music and entertainment at the Marshall Bluegrass Festival in Marshall, MI. Friday was kicked off by our own Michigan Mafia String Band. The honored our great nation with a stirring rendition of America the Beautiful. Ottawa County followed, a family band from Ohio. They played excellent sets of traditional bluegrass music, and host band Harbourtown made the final appearance of the festival before giving full attention to their hosting duties.
West Michigan’s Out of the Blue was up next with their solid traditional bluegrass. New Outlook came from Wapakoneta, Ohio with their fine band and their music store. They offer great music and great music merchandise. Columbus, Ohio’s Out of Mind made the first of their two day run at Marshall. This is an up-and-coming band that is well worth seeking out. Larry Efaw brought the Bluegrass Mountaineers to Marshall to deliver the mountain sounds of the Stanley tradition.
Saturday saw activities prior to the stage show. Fiddlin’ Dixie with Lil Friends entertained over 20 children at the Kiddie Corner. The kids all learned a little about canjos, banjos, fiddles mandolins, guitars, and basses in a variety of ways, from coloring instrument pages to handling and learning about real instruments. It is always exciting to see a youngsters eyes light up when he or she makes sound come from an instrument for the first time.
The Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association inducted members into their Hall of Honor. The inductees are Maggie and Gary Bilby. They are stalwarts of Michigan, Indiana, and Ohio bluegrass activities. Also inducted was the late Burke Cole, the promoter of the Marshall Bluegrass Festival until his passing in 2013. His widow, Tina, and twin sons, Cody and Dakota, accepted the award.
One of the mainstays of the Marshall festival is Jan Green’s band scramble. Jan has hosted this Saturday event for about 15 years. This year she had six “put together” bands appear on stage. Jan does the drawing to assemble the bands, MC’s the event, and does a great all around job.
The stage show saw the return of Out of Mind followed by Lonesome Meadow. Lonesome Meadow is a family band that many of us have watched grow from young children to adulthood. They put out really good sibling harmonies. Kevin Prater brought his band and its hard driving bluegrass to Marshall for the first time. Kenny and Amanda Smith also made their first appearance at Marshall. Amanda is one of the nominees for IBMA’s Female Vocalist of the Year and Kenny is one of the nominees for Guitar Player of the Year. Sideline closed out the festival in fine style, rapidly becoming a circuit favorite.
As I write this, I am camped at the site of this week’s adventure. Please join CandidPix.info at the Milan Bluegrass Festival. Wednesday will feature a SMBMA sponsored jam and potluck followed by an open stage for the early arrivals. The stage show runs from Thursday through Saturday.