It’s approaching the close of 2018, and you know what that means, the preparation of my BEST OF 2018 article which always comes out on Christmas Day at Midnight. That piece takes about twenty hours to make and get my facts correct and organized, and all the bands and PR people contacted.
I also have to start pitching for jobs in 2019, to stay relevant. See folks, many of you faithfully read me and I thank you, however many of the public is steered toward the next flashy offering. It’s normal proven science that the public reads MANY websites and forgets old ones. So in order to remain relevant you MUST STAY a step ahead of the game, I heard a few people are “upset” with me because I think it’s a competition…well..it’s NOT I read other people’s blogs myself and I have a truly mutual love for people like Capture Kentucky. But at the same time I MUST stay relevant to continue paying my bills, and the people that are “upset” with me aren’t paying them. On a side note if you would like better pictures than mine you NEED to see my buddy Mr. Jonathan Newsome over at Capture Kentucky.
Festivals….I covered quite a few in 2018, and I choose one or two new ones every year. This year I chose TWO, and they both focused on the Appalachian music community in East Kentucky. It’s one of the few that is rising at a rapid pace, both with performers and patrons. This is becoming a viable, tangible form of music to a much larger audience, with a down home luster that resonates very loudly through the hills and hollers of East Tennessee and East Kentucky, and portions of Ohio. Many of the performers that are included in this scene are also from Canada, and West Virginia as well. To those that have been there through the years like my friend Mr. JJ Waters, this music community has always been part of their heart and soul, and I feel very humbled to have been invited into it.
I started noticing and enjoying the bands involved here around 2013 when my friend W.B. Walker recorded his very first anniversary show on his couch in his living room. And that introduced me to three prominent forces in that area, Miss Senora May Lainhart, Mr. Tyler Childers and Mr. Justin Payne. Ever since then, I have been hooked on the sound and the format of the music itself, and little did I fathom that it would evolve into the epicenter that it recently has.
This series of articles needs to come with an internal warning about length as it’s going to be quite possibly two of the lengthiest articles I have ever done for two days at any festival. I think I observed more this weekend than the Apostle Paul on the road to Damascus when he was Saul. The good Lord was absolutely in presence here this weekend on this property and in the hearts of the people that came, because I’ll be honest..this was beyond anything I have ever witnessed at a music function of any magnitude, and trust me I have been around music functions for ten years, never before have I not known how to start. I had to STOP and dwell on this very aspect for a week now.
I missed the first day because I have no time left at work, I had a lot of family issues this summer and had to burn it all to tend to my adopted mother. Music is indeed fun, but family comes first. So I was already running a day behind everyone else, my next dilemma leaving the work place was the loss of an hour’s time in the time zone. So, before I even arrived on the interstate I was in the hole on time. But I made pretty good time getting to Somerset where the hotel is I use for Master Musician’s Festival which is a friend of the Roberts family here, and the format I used for them was one of the reasons I was hired to do this.
I’m going to tell you as much as I can about every aspect of this festival from an angle quite different than my usual format, because quite simply this festival itself was different from any other I have ever experienced. From the moment I pulled into the front gate area, I witnessed a totally different vibe and direction of operation.
A music festival is a science, and a business and if it doesn’t function and flow properly it doesn’t make money. But this particular festival wasn’t focused on being tangible. I say that because back on the ticket pre sale he could have easily sold all thousand tickets AND MORE, I mean they could have easily crammed another thousand people on the property and made money…but they didn’t. Mr. Byron and his family instead invited REAL FOLKS here and chose to pay attention to THEM. This event isn’t concerned on commercial feel, and the musicians and bands all watched one another in glee. They had FUN with one another, and interacted with each other on a non professional level here. This was just a big family party, and if you study the HISTORY of the event, THAT IS what started it. A birthday party for Mr. Byron and Miss Kelli’s son Mr. Kenton Roberts, three years ago began the format and idea for this event. I want to tell you more about the history, but I’m going to tell you as I learned about it myself.
When I got into Irvine Kentucky I could tell JUST WHY they told me to PLEASE CAMP, the roads were hard to maneuver and the instructions I had were EXACTLY like they described. HAIRPIN TURN indeed, wow. In fact as I came in I passed an unfortunate young lady that overturned her jeep down the ravine, but like I said GOD WAS THERE, and THANK GOD she was unharmed, and got to see the show! This was a ride that was so scenic and amazing only pictures could explain it easier.
I had no problem getting through the gate, and actually they asked me off the bat if I was the guy that needed power for a CPAP machine? I thought wow that’s great communication there. They took care of me and checked my I.D. and gave me instructions, however I parked up front until I checked in with the powers that be. I had no idea if I was supposed to drive through the creek, I mean there were people sitting in lawn chairs in the creek. I wasn’t sure where the stage was or anything else, so I parked in an easy spot and went for a walk to meet people and find out what they wanted me to do, but of course I started taking pictures and working a little bit.
The moment I approached the stage area I was greeted by Mr. J Ray Grossman the legendary roadie for the Goose Creek Symphony, whom I met at The Goose On The Lake before the Colonel Jon Hensley died. I got to talk to him for a bit before meeting Mr. Byron and Mr. Kenton who greeted me with open arms..like I was family. We have a great admiration for one another on many levels, and they directed me to a camping spot, where I could get settled in. Now mind you I was doing all this on NO sleep for that Friday! This was about noon I’m about to tell you about the first band I covered for this job here soon, yeah I realize I already wrote the Old Testament.
When I got settled in more I got to meet Mr. Byron and his son Mr. Kenton, the birthday boy! They hugged me tighter than my own adopted parents would. We began talking about the history of the actual festival itself, how the sound booth was part of the original stage and that the stage now currently has a portion of it embedded into the frame.
His own home was built with his own two hands and his children were raised on the property, parts of the living room are parts of building that date back to the Civil War, which if you are like me YOU KNOW that’s a interesting historical event. I study the regiments of the Confederacy and the Union all the time, and I found it amazing how intricate the detail to the house was for him to build this. Mr. Byron himself was raised in the area, and stayed where his heart remains.
This man literally threw the largest front yard barbecue party the world has ever witnessed, and don’t get me wrong IT HAS NO SPONSORS unlike everyone else… this wasn’t “brought to you by so and so”, this was brought to you by the Roberts family…all of them and their community.
One of the first bands I got to see myself was a fellow I met a few years ago in Huntington West Virginia on the W.B. Walker Anniversary show, and he is from Saskatchewan Canada. He is none other than Mr. Blake Berglund, and his band the Vultures.He had the lovely Miss Belle Plaine playing with him, more on her later, but the gentleman in the overalls on the guitar was Mr. Bryce Lewis and he plays for both Berglund and Miss Belle Plaine.
Mr. Blake is the real deal folks, with a true western twang and a cattle ranch feel to his songs, that make your heart crave cookie’s chuck off the fire pit. He is a champion bull rider and skilled songwriter, and he played many great songs for us like “Rain Delay”, which I believe was new.
Now from his 2017 album called Realms, he played us “Pretty Good Guy” and another great song called “Moose Mountain” where he reflects on his youth of making mistakes, and a thirteen year old Palomino Mare with the need for a contact high. It paints a truly splendid picture in the listener’s mind of gorgeous nature.
His last song was called “Crooked Old Earth”, it was a truly fine closing song to this set. Now before you think wow these were short sets, please remember there was only one stage. And they had to keep it moving along, and EVERY BAND was personally introduced by Mr. Byron himself. He would come out on stage and say a short piece for every act.
Mr. Grayson Jenkins and the Resolutions were next, and he is from Greenville Kentucky MY NECK OF THE WOODS but currently is based out of Lexington Kentucky. he and his band kicked off the set with “If I Was A Cowboy” and another called ” Junior Walker” from his second album. You may recall I covered him on the Master musicians Festival as well.
“Somewhere In Kentucky” was from the album “Cityscapes And Countrysides” which also includes a really good version of the song “Atlantic City” that Mr. Bruce Springsteen released in 1982. That is the aforementioned second album.
They played a truly wonderful version of Don William’s classic song called “Love Me Tonight”, off the album You’re My Best Friend in 1975. His drummer Mr. Zach Martin was amazing, as was the rest of the band on this set here,let me tell you more about them. Mr. Ryan Allen on guitar, Mr. Tyler Young on bass, and joining him on vocals was Miss Abby Hamilton. As I ventured off into the vendor area they played a song called “Mockingbird” which was pretty much self explanatory.
Before I go into venturing off into some of the vendors that were here, I want to extend a huge online hug to the folks over at Pickup Country 104.9 FM who I need to publicly THANK for letting me put my stuff by them, and for keeping an eye on it for me. Miss Angela and her crew were some truly friendly folks, and I loved laughing and meeting them. Please go check out what they do music because it is a HUGE labor of love.
I want to talk about some of the food and merchandise vendors, as well as what Miss Kelli Roberts and her daughter spearheaded on the Kickin’ In The Creek shirts, posters and “stuff” department. Those ladies ran a stellar operation selling stuff for artists, and helped make shopping a FUN time.
The entire left side of the front yard was filled with many nifty looking things to spend money on, and yummy food to equally liquidate your pocket. I mean WHY NOT spend a ton on food and stuff…I DO. Let’s be honest guys the money goes into the band’s gas tank to make the next show, and hey WHY CAN’T Mr. Justin Wells feed his twins with his merch money? Isn’t that what this is all about?
One of the food trucks I got some WICKED pulled pork nachos from was Mr. Justin Taylor who operates the Roll ‘N’ Smoke rolling smoke truck. I tell you WHAT I got some tasty HOME MADE nacho chips and his sauce was really REALLY good, generous portions of the meat on my nachos.
I also met Mr. Steve Walters, who runs Estill Agate Works and although he has no webpage you can contact him in Irvine Kentucky at firstname.lastname@example.org. Miss Rebecca Thomas operates the True soul Clothing Company out of Huntington West Virginia, and we had a pleasant chat this morning.
Next to her were the folks at Stewart’s music that also said they had no webpage but I thought it was kind of smart to have a music store here in case someone needed strings or a capo, and I had a pleasant time getting to know them as well. drank some shine with them too!
I spent a lot of time watching bands with one of my own band buddies Mr. Pat Reedy, who has a band called the Longtime Goners. He has a REALLY GOOD new album out NOW and you can find out more about it on our review HERE. I also reviewed his set at MUDDY ROOTS see, Mr. John R Miller plays bass for him. See how this is just one big circle of family? Also, I’m going to be talking about his 2019 Ameripolitan Nomination.
Now one of the things I didn’t care for was the one central spot for toilets in the back area. That was a little pressing however I can see the reason, they didn’t want septic trucks driving all over the property. That was an obvious answer to a dilemma MANY patrons were talking about, so to squelch the displeasure that is probably why they did that.
This next young lady is one I have and will be talking a lot about here toward the year’s end, Miss Belle Plaine because her new album is SOLID. You can read my partner’s review of it SOON. You can order the album if you click up there on her band site, so please do that for her.
She opened her set with “Golden Ring” which is the first single off the album out now on Spotify and all else, and had Mr. Blake Berglund playing leads for her. Her work on Mr. Colter Wall’s debut album was equally good, and I have been a fan of hers for some time now.
The song “Good Heart” is featured on her 2016 album The Unrequited Love, and was played at many of the shows I got to see her perform at. Her other album called Notes From A Waitress, that album brought forth the next song called “Port Angeles”. That song is a peaceful and soft ballad with lovely piano on the record, and if features her soulful voice vividly.
The next two songs were offering from the new album called “Is It Cheating” and “Laila Sadie Johnson Wasn’t Beaten By No Train”. I CAN tell you this new album features a fine voice, and in my opinion she has truly evolved her style into a whole new echelon.
After another few good pulls of some of the many flavored moonshines available behind the stage here, on the porch I decided to rest a moment and gather my notes. To bring you the next band up today, and visit with some more friends coming and going.
I got to finally meet Mr. Jonathan Newsome for the first time today and we had a photo showdown…he won..I bow to him. I always have admired good photographers and if you know him or Miss Alexis Faye, they are two truly gifted photographers in their respected communities. I belong to no scene or family, but I am humbled to have been invited into theirs.
All the while these festivities are transpiring, My Byron went personally from group to group hugging people and thanking them for coming to his home. To his domain and to his yard to celebrate something he holds dear to his heart…music. EVERY ACT he personally chose and personally enjoyed.
This festival was carefully planned with intricate attention to detail and every aspect was attended to in a down home family type demeanor. If you weren’t convinced of the sincerity of Mr. Byron Roberts, you weren’t REALLY there. Never before have I EVER encountered a director so in love with people and spirit, and I don’t believe I ever will again.
Mr. Jeremy Short And Company I mean this cat slung one mean assed guitar around. Mr. Jeremy Short is based out of Kentucky and knows no genre really, but he knows how to pull that soul out of that axe. And with Mr. Josh Nolan on guitar (who played for about nine acts this weekend) and Mr. John Clay on drums, he broke out a damn fine set today.
“Bartender” was first from the album Lost In a Spin, which sent the crowd into a huge blistering frenzy. It was already hot as crap here with no relief from the heat until around 4 when the sun began to be hid by the trees on the side of the holler.
“Shake It Off” was one of my favorites because it was well written and genre bending in every aspect. I mean there was NO WAY to classify this music other than it was GREAT! I didn’t catch the entire set sad to say because I was wandering so much at that time to eat.
I found some wood fired pizza that was pretty good, but the selection was only two types of topping. I think for easier storage they couldn’t offer sausage toppings or ham. The pepperoni was really not bad at all, and to be honest the prices here were all really truly reasonable.
You sort of want the food trucks to be more near the stage area to market the smell to the crowds, and I found that to be somewhat against the norm. But really in the main camping area is where everyone ate, I didn’t see the audience eating while watching music. That’s hard to call if they don’t usually do that…or it was the result of lost sales?
I had many new faces to tell about my website here this weekend, and I met many new friends, and I had some old ones that recognized me. This was a whole new world that I am engulfed in this weekend, and I’m loving every minute of this. Once again, I’m very lucky to be included in this, and this community is very friendly.
This mountain region of America is often overlooked and underappreciated, and I think politically the coal mining industry was hated by the government. I won’t indulge my politics in public…I never do, but I think that it’s not appreciated. And I think these folks are often rudely stereotyped by others, they were some of the finest upstanding folks I ever met.
many things are going on this weekend for charities and volunteer fire departments, in fact I donated 50 at the door to someone, I think it was volunteer fire dept. This guitar was left to be signed by every act, and it was being raffled off during the show. They also were doing some things for veterans and other groups of folks here.
Mr. William Matheny was next onstage here, and he called his band the Strange Constellations, also another thing about him. The merch booth person kept correcting the public it is prnounced MATHEENIE not MATHANEY. Which I’m sure is a common mistake here, like Mr. Jack Grelle gets mispronounced.
He also had Mr. John R. Miller, and Mr. Josh Nolan playing for him today onstage, I enjoyed his beautiful version of the Bobby Bare classic “That’s How I Got To Memphis”, also I cannot begin to name how many others have recorded that song.
He played an exciting set tonight with a song called ‘Tonight And Every Night From Now On”, which isn’t on either of his albums, but I found it to be one of his better songs…just that it spoke to me. He is a true multi talented young man in many aspects of the craft.
He also included the wonderful song called “Christian Name” which was another well written song with a great melody to it. His voice complements the lyrics and makes them vivid, and when you combine that with his unique delivery you get Mr. William Matheny.
Vintage Pistol I first heard of from hanging around the folks at the Fayetteville Roots Festival in the Arkansas area. Because that’s where they hail from, indeed. And they brought the most energetic stage presence we saw all day so far, until the Wooks came up. But they have also played for my friends in Kansas City at the Westport Saloon.
Mr. Garrett August on the keyboards went absolutely CRAZY for us and his glasses flew off, we had to help him find them! This five piece band of guys went totally nuts for us. I was so busy watching this band perform I forgot to write the songs down, to be honest.
Mr. Taylor Smith- guitar, vocals, Mr. Walt Blythe- lead guitar and Mr. Jake Schaffer – drums make up this band, they had one more member I couldn’t find the name, and my email went unanswered.
The next three acts were Mr. Byron’s pride and joy acts of the day, not that ANYONE was lesser loved or wanted, but by then Mr. Byron’s voice was already giving way to going out. He was already worn out and running like a cat on a hot tin roof…his exact words.
He was still going from group to group personally welcoming all of the people he saw, and hugging EVERYBODY. Playing with kids, and I tell you what he personally went and got me a water at one time. EVERY volunteer worked tirelessly to make this a different kind of event. The fire department, Medics, security, golf cart drivers, gate keepers, ALL OF THEM went the extra mile to make this happen.
The backstage area was equally amazing, there weren’t many new friendships being made because they already knew one another. There was an intense level of mutual respect for each other here in Appalachia, and I admired every waking moment of this despite the intense heat.
Mr. Byron emceed the event with precise care, and loving words for each artist. He knew them all, and some of them he bounced on his knee as children. Some of them he knew all their lives, and was a second father to them. I relate quite well to that, if a gal is under 25 I think….man I got a daughter your age.
The big man from Lexington Mr. Justin Wells made his appearance tonight, and it’s always a treat to watch him perform. I personally love his music very much and I equally enjoy seeing him and getting to talk about things. He is currently playing some new songs in his set lists, I noticed a few new ones.
His first song was ‘The Dogs” and my favorite song called ‘Still No Rain” followed it. He will tell you he is very blessed to be able to feed his family with his music, but I tell you WE ARE the lucky ones to have him around. he does MANY positive things for humanity as well as the music community. RIGHT NOW they are all raising money for addiction in their community. He always has kind words to lift us all up.
I noticed the Dire Strait’s cover of ‘So Far Away” from my favorite album Brothers In Arms, and he played ‘Three Quarters Gone”. I plan to catch up with him for an interview soon before he goes into the studio for his next album, and PLEASE go buy some stuff from him, to enable him to do this next record.
He just had fun up there tonight, as the sun set and night began to relieve us all of the wretched heat, I got quite settled in to my surroundings, and my camp. I haven’t slept in a tent in ages, but hotel rooms here are not existent. In fact in my 2019 article for this event I won’t even include lodging, just camp.
The last two songs I recognized were called “Going Down Grinnin” and “Another Night Lonely”. Honestly I use his music many times for uplifting me before medical procedures and other things that mentally bring you down in life, because he is a very positive influence.
This is Mr. JJ Waters who helps operate Honky Tonk Heros on Facebook, and for new bands in this area, and events you MUST GO check them out. Currently they are preparing things for their annual Christmas toy drive, for the West Virginia community. They become involved in many if not all of the local area shows and venues, and take nothing in return for their actions. I think they deserve a lot more credit than they are given for the time and effort they put into making things happen for local music.
Magnolia Boulevard is a five piece band out of Lexington Kentucky, that I missed the last time I had an opportunity to see them. But this time I did not fail seeing them here this weekend. This band consists of Miss Maggie Noelle on vocals, Mr. Ryan Allen on keyboards, Mr. Todd Copeland on drums, Mr. John Roberts on bass and finally Mr. Greg Erwin on guitars.
Their 2018 self titled EP boasted many of the songs they played in their set tonight including songs like “Sister” and many long instrumentals within the songs. This band is extremely energetic and multi sounding within genres. You really couldn’t classify them as anything accept damn good music.
Their set began with a song called “Without You” and after many instrumentals they went into one called “Call On Me.” Miss Maggie is quite the energetic spirit up there, moving about frantically as she delivers the lyrics out.
“Smooth Sailin” was another great song on display here tonight, and as the crowd began to fill up with anticipation for the next band that I self admittedly originally didn’t like..we were treated to some truly fine musical talents here. Another good song they played was called ‘Strong Willed Woman” , and they closed their set off with the song called “Ride”.
So I’ll start this portion of the article on an honest note here, I did NOT initially care for the music of The Wooks but after about 30 spins of their debut album and seeing them LIVE, I realized how deathly wrong I was. In fact I am downright ashamed of myself for even insinuating that they stunk..
OK well they have a new album coming out in 2018 called Glory Bound, and you can pre-order it by clicking on the name over there. I’m also going put on a cover of the album here for you. The first song from their set was a Steve Earle song called “Tom Ames Prayer”, you can find it on the 1994 album called “Gringo Honeymoon” by Mr. Robert Earl Keen.
Next up was the song called “Out Of Mind” from their debut album called Little Circles, they played almost that whole album as well as a bunch of great covers like Springsteen’s “Atlantic City”, and the Road Goes On Forever. The band consists of Mr. CJ Cain | Lead Guitar, Mr. Harry Clark | Mandolin, Mr. Arthur Hancock | Guitar, Mr. Roddy Puckett | Bass and finally Mr. George Guthrie | Banjo.
One of the highlights for me during this set was the instrumental called the “Wookie Foot Shuffle” which had us all going insane this late at night. I sat there in my chair amazed at their solidarity together and the fact that they just KNOW what the others are doing at all times. There are some lyrics to the Wookie Foot Shuffle, but it’s pretty much focused on instrumentals.
“County Girl” was another great song followed by ‘Crooked Piece Of Time”. Another great song they played was called “White Lines And Neon Signs”, which was the very first song they do I was exposed to. I just cannot apologize to this band enough for not liking them at first.
Now then they played the song called “Feeling Good Again” and in between that song and the self titled song called “Glory Bound” there was a special appearance by Laid Back Country Picker, and he gave Mr. Arthur some trademark mutton chops! Mr. Byron put him in a full nelson rasslin hold and O’l Laid Back shaved him because his beard was not up to code.
I want to thank Mr. Byron for making me come up on the stage during this to catch it all as it transpired. I’m pretty sure it was only partially planned because the set list says that Laid Back was coming on, but not this. Everybody enjoyed the comedy of Laid Back and on my part two, I’m going to tell you about a little funny with Miss Honey.
The band resumed playing songs the likes of “Night bird” and also “Spanish Pipedream” among others, like the classic ‘Rollin In My Sweet Baby’s Arms”. With all this going on, there was some really cool fire dancing going on side stage and other things going on. It truly was a lot to take in at once, upon many different occasions.
So in just a few days I’ll tell you all about Saturday on the Creek from the Robert’s. AND ALSO a little portion of some of what I missed, and other things that need to be told on here.