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topic icon Author Topic: RG 2008 Impressions  (Read 20912 times)
amarti
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URL icon « on: July 28, 2008, 01:25:18 PM »

Overall, another excellent RG.

The highlight, without question, was Carolina Chocolate Drops on Sunday. The show was fun, unexpected and full of energy. In my 7 years of going to RG, I never thought I would see a Beyonce song bring the crowd to a frenzy.

The lowlight was the Punch Brothers on Saturday. Am I the only one who's a little tired of unapproachable shapeless songs (or "movements") that go on and on (40+ minutes) and are completely devoid of any entertainment value? I'm all for experimentation, but please don't forget about the audience!

Now Playing icon Listening to: Chocoloate Drops!
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reikipam
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URL icon « Reply #1 on: July 28, 2008, 01:32:28 PM »

I loved the Chocolate Drops.  I've listened to them for awhile, but they are great live.

My highlight (s)
Chatham County Line
Peter Rowan
Jd Crowe

Also, catching the end of the Shape note workshop, and hearing these voices singing Angel Band- extremely beautiful

I didn't stay for the Punch Brothers, as I was couldn't deal with Abigail washburn's set.   Great musicians, but no real tune to speak of.
I don't need to be challenged musically.   I heard about the Punch Brothers the next day though.

Great experience, though.  Never have gone, will go again.
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amarti
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URL icon « Reply #2 on: July 28, 2008, 01:38:25 PM »

I forgot about Chatham County! Their set on Saturday was typically awesome, but their impromptu show by the entrance later in the afternoon was truly memorable. The guys are great entertainers and excellent songwriters.

I thought it was strange that their set was so early and short. I would have preferred to see them on a later slot. Perhaps they should have been swapped with the Punch Bros!
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historyman
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URL icon « Reply #3 on: July 28, 2008, 01:54:19 PM »

Abigail Washburn and the Punch Brothers were unlistenable.

Handing out line numbers at 3:30 in the morning Friday night was inexcusable.

Everything else was perfect as usual.

 Medal

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Ron N Deb
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URL icon « Reply #4 on: July 28, 2008, 01:55:42 PM »

I thought Chatham kicked some
Butt !
and thanks to KGNU for broadcasting
their set !
 Cheers
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Ron N Deb
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URL icon « Reply #5 on: July 28, 2008, 02:04:58 PM »

I missed Chatham county at their impromptu set.  I was listening to one of the bands practice for the competition.  I went to the restroom, and Chatham county was just finishing up.  Drat!!

I thought that Dan Tyminski played with the Punch Brothers, didn't realize that he played seperately with his band.

I didn't stay past the Chocolate Drops last night, so missed Sam Bush- how was that?


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Matt and Becky
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URL icon « Reply #6 on: July 28, 2008, 02:45:35 PM »

I couldn't agree more about the Punch Brothers.  They did nothing for me.  Their music didn't seem to go anywhere.  I was really looking forward to this set too, and I went into it with an open mind.  But I just didn't get it.  It seems like Chris Thile really needs to get over himself.  I mean, the whole crowd had completely checked out by a half hour into his set.  You could tell that he was into the music, but the crowd certainly was not.  I have never seen more people chatting during a set at RG.  People were completely checked out. 

And the Carolina Chocolate drops abso-freakin-lutely rocked!!!  I had high anticipation for this set and they did not disappoint.  Very fun and entertaining.  I also really liked Chatham County Line and the Sunday gospel set.   


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chaisson21
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URL icon « Reply #7 on: July 28, 2008, 04:35:46 PM »

Overall I had a good time at the festival, but I don't think it was nearly as complete and as entertaining as last years.  There simply was not enough bluegrass.  Don't get me wrong - the music that was there was incredible.  I loved the Chocolate Drops, and (although I seem to be in the minority here) I thought Abigail Washburn absolutely rocked.  But they aren't bluegrass.  And neither is Natalie MacMaster, who got to headline Saturday night.  In fact, when you think about it, none of the headlining acts were real bluegrass acts.  Sam Bush can certainly play bluegrass, but anymore he's not a strictly bluegrass act, at least not like a Doyle Lawson or a Jesse McReynolds. 

And honestly, while I have the the utmost respect for Sam Bush, Darol Anger, Bela Fleck and Mike Marshall, how many times do I need to see them in one weekend?  I mean I felt like every other set had at least one of them on stage.  Not to mention the fact that Sam Bush got to close not one, but two nights.

Telluride is no longer a bluegrass festival, I really hope that Rockygrass isn't headed for the same fate.
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URL icon « Reply #8 on: July 28, 2008, 04:38:49 PM »

Whoa!   I was stunned, shocked, and amazed by The Carolina Chocolate Drops.  What an incredibly talented threesome.  I was fascinated by their song introductions, wowed by their skill, and literally up on the edge of my chair watching them move on stage.  Did anyone else catch that guitar being swung behind the back, between the legs, and tossed four feet up into the air?  Without a doubt the best set of the festival... bring them back to all of the PB festivals, Craig!

I also REALLY enjoyed Natalie MacMaster's set. Her fiddling collaborations with her husband were mind-numbing.  I was seeing bow trails watching him play!  I loved their band and the way that the music was arranged.  The drummer was outstanding... fun to watch.  It's ironic to me that people got upset at Natalie's drummer when nobody ever complains about Sam having a drummer in his bluegrass band.

I'm surprised nobody has mentioned The Stairwell Sisters.  I thought they had a great set. 

I liked the Sparrow Quartet (again).  I don't think I could ever tire of hearing those four play, and playing together is an extra bonus.  My only complaint, and it isn't big, was that more of Ben's material didn't get played.  His "Prettiest Tree On the Mountain" was beautiful during their set, but he has  so many more excellent songs that would be fun to hear.  Hmmm... maybe Craig could treat us to a Ben Solee set in the future.  ;-)

I have to admit... I'd rather listen to ten Punch Brothers sets over one gospel set (this year's Rockygrass gospel was more palatable than most).  The skill of each member of The Punch Brothers is phenomenal.  I agree though, that their set could not hold the interest of the crowd.  The same thing happened in Telluride as far as losing the crowd twenty minutes into the set.  I  hope that Chris will move in different directions from the who How To Grow A Band and Punch Brothers phases, but I still enjoy watching his maturation on the mandolin and in his composing.  I kinda wonder if people had similar complaints about David Grisman when he began inventing and exploring his Dawg music.

-Joe
 
« Last Edit: July 28, 2008, 04:46:27 PM by knowfun » IP address Logged

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URL icon « Reply #9 on: July 28, 2008, 04:40:10 PM »

My main stage highlight was the Jeremy Garret's Garret Grass Gospel Extravaganza.   I thought it was awesome. I am definitely not a religious type, nor was I saved during the set, but musically it was amazing!  Jeremy had many guests, and Sarah Jaroz with Sam Grisman and Alex Hargreaves was genius.  Sarah is my favorite new singer, I was lucky to be camped near her and man, she brings it all, WOW!  Jeremy also had Adrienne Young and her band come out for a show stopping version of "Brokedown Palace." Not your typical gospel tune, but an all time fave of mine.  The set was really a Stringduster all star jam fest, with Critter and assorted others sitting in, along with Jeremy's dad Glen sining sweet baritone. Andy Hall did a solo dobro thing that was incredible. If you missed this set, find the recordings, it flat out rocked!  In fact, help me find the recordings please!!!

The real good stuff was in the campground though, all night superstar jams that simply had to be heard to be believed.  Trust me, I spent more time in camp picking than in the fest...

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URL icon « Reply #10 on: July 28, 2008, 05:05:19 PM »

I too love the Gospel grass.  Awesome stuff
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Mandojosh79
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URL icon « Reply #11 on: July 28, 2008, 05:15:42 PM »

Music that isnt in 1-4-5 is still good.


The Punch Brothers and The Sparrow Quartet are breathing new life into a immortal musical scene.

Thats all I'll say.
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URL icon « Reply #12 on: July 28, 2008, 06:24:57 PM »

It's ironic to me that people got upset at Natalie's drummer when nobody ever complains about Sam having a drummer in his bluegrass band.

Don't mind the drums, and I love Chris Brown with Sam. Natalie's drummer was full of talent, but I can't stand that drum kit he has. It's sounds like bad electronic drums to my ears.
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jjwood64
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URL icon « Reply #13 on: July 28, 2008, 06:55:27 PM »

Rockygrass 2008 was superb all the way around.  Not a single dud act
(unlike last year -- e.g., Laura Love); and I really liked the added
diversity that marked this year's unique RG:

My five favorite sets of the weekend (in no order):
 
Abigail Washburn & The Sparrow Quartet (Sat.) --  No, this is not
bluegrass, but this was rich visionary music, with numerous Chinese
influences. However, Abigail was simply a beautiful angel on stage; singing
with depth, clarity and passion.  The accompaniment and musicianship was
as good as it gets, but the places the four went were unique and fresh.
 
Natalie MacMaster & Donnell Leahy (Sat.) -- Prior, I had seen Natalie a
handful of times between two Newport Folk Festivals and shows.
However, all that was prior to she marrying Donnell, whom in my book
was a monster fiddler who played with boatloads of energy
and passion.  Plenty of Cape Breton-flavored music with plenty of Celtic
flavors, and the crowd ate them up.  It was a refreshing Saturday night
closer, and if there's a new trend in bringing in "out of the box" bands,
I am 100% all for it.
 
Carolina Chocolate Drops (Sun.) -- THE "discovery" of the festival,
three talented black youngsters -- Rhiannon Giddens on clawhammer banjo,
fiddle, dancing, and vocals; Don Flemons on guitar, clawhammer banjo,
bones (!!), dancing and vocals; Justin Robinson on fiddle, dancing
and vocals.  This was old time string band music that crosses genres of
deep pre-electric blues, bluegrass, string music, R&B, dixieland, soul and
a warm touch of Vaudeville.  Loaded to the brim with energy, passion,
talent...and BALLS...they connected and kicked every Festavarin
ass in sight!! Craig, please book them for either Folks or Telluride
next year!!
 
Bela Fleck and Friends (Fri.) - Similar to Telluride, this was a Bela
mostly-duets set with great players like Tony Trishka (banjo),
Noam Pikelny (banjo), Jerry Douglas (dobro), Sam Bush (mandolin),
Abigail Washburn (clawhammer banjo, vocals) and John Cowan
(electric bass, vocals).   Yes, there were the hot licks portions, but
there were nice songs performed by Abigail and Cowan, respectively
 
Sam Bush Bluegrass Band (Sun.) - First, it was bassist Byron House's
b-day, and a b-day cake was brought out for him, with Sam leading the
Festivarians in a full Happy Birthday.   However, half of the material
derived from Newgrass Revival and old bluegrass sources, all
played splendidly by his first-class band.  Perhaps the tune of the set
was Howlin' At The Moon, since many in the audience -- myself
included --- howled between songs *until* the tune was played.  As
normal, the encore was a jamfest including Chris Thile (mandolin),
Mike Marshall (mandolin), Peter Rowan (vocals, acoustic guitar),
Don Flemons (bones -- the players onstage appeared to enjoy
his presence!), and a few others I'm missing.  Last tune of Rockygrass
2008:  A crankin' "Rollin' In My Sweet Baby's Arms", with Sam and
Peter handing the verses.
 
If anything, out of my 6 Rockygrasses, this was the most diverse
one of all -- and here's hoping that continues into next year.

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« Last Edit: July 28, 2008, 06:59:10 PM by jjwood64 » IP address Logged
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URL icon « Reply #14 on: July 28, 2008, 07:01:06 PM »

Another chime-in for Carolina Chocolate Drops. Incredible energy and amazing musicians. I made a bee-line to the tent to purchase their disc immediately after the first tune (the only other time I remember doing this was the first time I heard/saw Todd Snider at Folks fest 8 or 9 years ago).

I really enjoyed JD Crow & the New South, Peter Rowan, The Stairwell Sisters, and Sam's festival-closing set.

No to gripe too much but the situation in the car-lot waiting area on Thursday for on-site vehicles was a mess. we were told 4 different things by 4 different employees/volunteers about how the system would work (regardless of the usual first-come/first serve get in line method). We arrived at 12 noon and were told at 4 p.m. to get in line when we were assured a random lottery would be done. I know, probably our own fault but there were a bunch of people that were told similar things and some heated exchanges.

Besides this pretty mild glitch, another fantastic weekend.
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