I left for the festival around 5 AM Friday morning after a short nap, I could not sleep from the anticipation and the wonder in my mind of adventures and new places to see. I have never been east of Indianapolis or west of Cincinnati before, nor have I ever brought the website to Indiana before. It was time to change all those facts.
I took my time coming up to the festival stopping for tourist items like all my football stuff I like. I like ALL the teams so I had to buy some Colts stuff and some Skyline Chili, yum. Well I forgot about the one hour time difference so I arrived at the Randoplh Inn And Suites around 1PM which was noon for me. Now the staff member on the phone said for my needs the budget building was good and IT WAS, VERY clean and although it was small, the location was GREAT. The distance to the ranch was minimal and the pool was indoor and nice, the free breakfast was also nice.
I got settled in and unpacked and got all my resource books ready to cover some music and network with people. I had no idea what I was dealing with all I knew were what bands I was featuring and some of the folks that were there. Across the street was a really good Mexican place that had really good tacos, I ate there Saturday.
I arrived at the Circle X Ranch around 4 and was greeted by the ticket desk staff whom were Facebook friends that I haven’t yet met. HERE is the Circle X Ranch Facebook page. Mr. Donnie came out to greet me and I began to look around the clubhouse where the music was going to take place.
This started out as an outdoor festival and this past spring it got moved indoors, the way the clubhouse is structured the sound is TRULY LOUD and perfect. Ken Bucci was working on running the sound for this event. He did a REALLY good job too, it’s been a long time since I have seen him and many others working here. There were tables so that gave me adequate space to work and write, as the venue didn’t have Wi Fi. I was using off line WordPress and books to do this..no big deal.
The food was basic but good and VERY affordable. In fact the whole darn trip was inexpensive and I would suggest this festival to anybody that is on a tight budget. For what I spent I was able to spend more on band merchandise and that pleased me, I finally got some good vinyls I been wanting for months.
The very first act was an acoustic act from the local area Nick Gibbs. At this point many people were still setting up camp and arriving to town but not me. I was ready to enjoy some music and learn some new bands!
Eric And Amanda Bestul who played in the band with Owen Mays before he passed away played us an amazing set before the next act. They played a song he said his son named “Uh Oh Tractor”.
The next act was Mr. Donnie’s daughter Mallory Wymer who does some singing and recorded an album not long ago with some help from artists like Jayke Orvis and Liz Sloan.
She played “these Boots Were Made for Walking” originally recorded in the late 1960’s by Nancy Sinatra. Her next song was called “Look Out Mama” which was originally recorded by Hurray For The Riff Raff and is the title track from one of their albums.
Her next song “Valerie” was I believe an Amy Winehouse song, I never really was a fan of Winehouse’s music but I did respect her musical abilities. Her last song was a Traditional song we all have heard for timeless generations called “Welcome Table” which she sang A Cappella.
Mr. Eric Bestul and Miss Amanda Bestul played some songs before the next act like “Nine Pound Hammer” which Joe Maphis is known for playing with Merle Travis and O’l “Flying Fingers” Larry Collins. I got to meet Mr. Larry this past spring at a different festival, and got to thank him for his contributions to Country Music.
They played several sets throughout the weekend and in another article I’ll be telling you some REALLY GOOD information about their new project they have going. But in the meantime they played a few songs like “Sleepwalk” and “Rockin Gypsy”. However I’ll be telling you more about these two fine people in future installments of this series, there will be four pieces.
Now then the next act was one I have never covered on this website and sadly his band couldn’t make it and he played alone BUT dang it I’m telling you it was STILL GREAT. The album they have is really good, and the next band I witnessed was called Joe’s Truck Stop and during my research I was heavily anticipating this band.
He started out with some fiddle tunes called “Hell’s Broke Loose In Georgia” and “Sail Away Ladies” before going into a really energetic song called “Run Johnny Run”. That song is about John Robert Boone who was the largest crop of pot in the state of Kentucky, and vanished quickly as the authorities closed in on him. It was reported he had over 2,000 active plants.
He then played a song called “Good Old American Guest” that Merle Haggard wrote and released on the album “Big City”. That song was followed by a slower song called “One More Night”, which featured his talented guitar playing. Even as a solo performer he truly entertained me and I enjoyed his songs. He played a Bill Monroe song called “With Body And Soul” and followed that with “Lonesome Midnight Blues” with Liz Sloan on fiddle.
Another really good song off the album that he closed his set with was called “Kindness” and it is my favorite song on the whole album..It’s one of the best songs on the album. He brought up Mr. Jared McGovern on banjo along with Miss Liz, which was truly a great closing number along with another song I did not catch.
Duane Mark was up next who is primarily out on the west coast and played for us with his steel guitarist “Homeless Dave”. I missed a small portion of his set to eat some lunch and had to take care of some business on the phone and stepped outside, however I did get to catch him doing “Miner’s Blues”.
I also got to catch him introduce Mr. David Mills as “Homeless Dave” and tell some stories about how they met as they went into a song called “Hobo Insane” and “I’ll Fly Away”. He closed his set with a song called “Red Letter” which is off his new album. I was kind of bummed I missed some of his set and will try to catch him again sometime soon.
Josh Morningstar my good friend from Maryland who burns up the roads and does pretty much every festival I can think of was next. His new album “Songs For fools With Broken Hearts” on Little Class Records was one of my favorites in 2015 and he opened his set with “Say Goodbye”.
His set included one of my personal favorite songs called “March To The Gallows” as well, you know folks to be honest I believe I have covered my buddy Joshua more than just about anyone on here. We have a personal connection and I give him so much love for a personal reason. This man works his ass off and travels like crazy to play all over the country, and I want him to achieve every dream he has.
‘Brand New Angel” was next which was one of his first big single releases after we first met in Altamont at another festival. I’ll never forget the first set I ever saw him perform..hell..I can tell you the whole setlist that he may not even have remembered. He does that many shows!
At this point he had the whole place going nuts as he pummeled his kick drums and stomped on the stage along with his cover of “In The Pines” before going into “Motel Madness” off his latest album. And he closed his set with a timeless hymn “I Saw The light” by Hank Williams. He often closes with that song and that’s not really a bad thing, the night wasn’t close to being over either. Heck we still had a few good acts left, and at this point I had been up 36 hours.