Weekend scene at the 2021 Norwalk Music Festival

Caleb Daugherty Band at the 2021 Norwalk Music Festival – photo © Bill Warren

Where does one begin??? Exhausted, exhilarated, flabbergasted, but most of all – smiling! The 2021 edition of The Norwalk Music Festival is in the books. It is one to remember.

Let’s begin with the great bands that performed. It ranged from the high lonesome Stanley sound of the Bluegrass Mountaineers to the modern rock sound of the Journey tribute band New Frontiers and everything in between.

Friday was a day of festival favorite Ohio and Michigan bands. Included were Ottawa County, New Outlook, Kyle Jarvis and IIIrd Generation, The Michigan Mafia String Band, Crabgrass, and Bootleg. Ottawa County gives driving bluegrass with family harmony, while New Outlook presents top flight bluegrass, classic country, and Gospel music. Kyle Jarvis gives an audience straight-ahead bluegrass. “Foose” and the Michigan Mafia boys cover a lot of territory – everything from bluegrass to blues to classic rock. Crabgrass is a band with classic brother harmony and Bootleg presents classic country that gets the audience up and dancing. Friday was closed out by New Frontiers – a Journey tribute band who provided a broad appeal to ’80s and ’90s rockers.

Friday also saw a hotly contested cornhole tournament.

Saturday saw the return of New Outlook, Crabgrass, Kyle Jarvis, and the Michigan Mafia String Band. Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers and The Caleb Daugherty Band also performed. The Bluegrass Mountaineers were formed in the early ’50s by Larry’s Dad, “Beanpole” Efaw. They present the hard driving Stanley Brothers style of bluegrass. Caleb Daugherty is one of the up-and-coming stars. He gives an audience full measure of bluegrass and classic country sounds. He has songs climbing the bluegrass charts.

Saturday also saw “Gig-to-Go” bags given to youngsters from Fiddlin’ Dixie and Li’l Friends and the Southeast Michigan Bluegrass Music Association.

The highlight of the festival is the “Stump the Band” Alzheimer’s fundraiser. The always bubbly Terri Grannis MC’s the event. “Stump the Band” is sort of a band scramble format. Three bands were created from the bands at the festival and band one had members from The Bluegrass Mountaineers, New Outlook, Harbourtown, and Bootleg. Band two had members from Caleb Daugherty, Crabgrass, Ottawa County, Kyle Jarvis, and the Mountaineers. Band three had Harbourtown, New Outlook, and Caleb Daugherty members.

Audience members spent the weekend buying songs to stump the band. If they can sing the song, the band is free and clear. Stump the band and the band has to pay – but – as Terri let everyone know – musicians don’t have money. So, she calls on audience members to cover the band’s payment. The requested songs can be of any genre. They ranged from old bluegrass favorites to classic rock favorites to Baby Shark. The bands were stumped a number of times, and in about an hour and a half, over $6,100 was raised. Kudos go to Marshall Bluegrass Festival promoter, Jeremie Cole. He went thru the crowd collecting stump money. He collected a whopping $3,100 from the Friends of the Marshall Bluegrass Festival!

Several other raffle and 50/50 funds allowed festival promoters Kurt and Betty Jo Hickman to present a check for $8,794 to Alzheimer’s representative Julia Pechilvanos. This is more than double the 2019 donation!! Thank you Norwalk Festival lovers!!

Festival promoter Kurt Hickman and Crabgrass’ Andy Crabtree got Stormy Cushing to dance with them. Stormy was in an horrific car accident as a teenager. She is an inspiration to everyone she meets. She also won the lawnmower donated by employees of MTD. She told me that she had an older friend who needed a new lawnmower and she sure hoped she could win it!

A quote from Kurt when the dollars were totaled… “I’m blown away. There are no words.”

Support your local music venues.