Wheel Inn Campground Bluegrass Bash in Leslie, MI

Alex Leach Band at the 2021 Wheel Inn Campground Bluegrass Bash – photo © Bill Warren

Bluegrass is back at the Wheel Inn Campground!

For many years the Wheel Inn Campground in Leslie, Michigan hosted bluegrass festivals but their festival went on hiatus after the 2008 season. Campground owner, Dan Taylor, and his brother, Tommy, hosted the Wheel Inn Campground Bluegrass Bash this past weekend. Several promoters have worked this festival over the years. They include the late Robert White, Goldwing Express, and Jerry Yates. Many of the iconic names in bluegrass have performed at Wheel Inn. They include The Lewis Family, Jim & Jesse, The Osborne Brothers, The Grascals, The Larry Stephenson Band, a Bluegrass Cardinals reunion, and many, many others.

The show kicked off on Friday with the return of the “Wheel Inn Orchestra.” It is a band that includes several area musicians. Part of the band was Delmar “Bosco” Hackworth, the Taylor brothers, and Dave Howard.

Cedar Creek Junction is a local band that always plays this festival. The bandleader, Delmar Hackworth, lives about three miles from the campground. They give the audience a true bluegrass show. Delmar is currently working on a recording of his favorite songs. The initial mixes on songs of the songs show a recording with great promise.

The Alex Leach Band was up next. Alex is a seasoned, but young musician, who has hit the bluegrass train on the run. He maintains his radio show based in Knoxville, Tennessee along with a heavy touring schedule. The band provides a variety of style with a strong traditional influence.

The Kody Norris Show closed out the evening with a high energy, traditional show. Kody has developed into a quality entertainer with a strong supporting cast. Make plans to see both of these bands when they are in your area.

Saturday saw both the orchestra and Cedar Creek Junction in repeat performances.

The headliner was Gary Brewer & the Kentucky Ramblers. Gary played the first Wheel Inn festival – and almost every succeeding one. He was back to help reestablish the festival. The Ramblers provide a variety show that goes from traditional bluegrass to classic country to the oldest of old time music with Gary frailing his Pap’s old banjo.

Gary is celebrating his 41st year as a professional musician. His current album, 40thAnniversary Celebration, has been the top selling bluegrass album for more than 60 weeks. The band is a family business. Gary’s older son Wayne is the band manager. Daughter-in-law Alyssa heads the Stretchgass record label. Alyssa joins the band to sing a couple duets with Wayne. This is a band that music fans need to experience.

Dan and Tommy put this renewal show together in a short period of time. They have started planning for next year’s show. Keep an eye out for news from the Wheel Inn Campground regarding the 2022 show.

Support your local music venues.