Right now I am enjoying the first act on the main stage presented by the Don Fanklin Family of dealerships and it is a duo called LaMay And Reese. Actually I am sitting in the V.I.P. tent which was over by the merchandise area for MMF, and it was quite pleasant and relaxed in here.
This festival had amazing amnesties for their bands and media, and a REALLY HELPFUL STAFF for the audience, all of these folks are ALL volunteers and are going out of their way to make sure everyone is well hydrated in this heat. Throughout the entire weekend, I am always returning to different portions of these articles to update new things, and I need to once again stress the staff. ALL WEEKEND I witnessed them doing extraordinary acts of kindness and hospitality to me and other patrons, I was PROUD to spend merchandise money here to support this community.
The college grounds offer a wide array of shaded areas for the patrons to utilize as they are exposed to the wonderful music that is about to transpire here. Another NICE thing about this festival was the ambiance of it all, this is a family friendly event, where the kids can run around and I can leave my equipment in one area and not worry. In fact, one of the former board members kindly watched my belongings all weekend while I reported from stage two (which I shall address here shortly), and shopped for merch.
The V.I.P. tent was generously supplied with food from the wonderful folks at Hardees on HWY 27 with delicious burgers and chicken sandwiches all weekend. However I’m going to rave about the Gold Star Chili coneys and the pulled pork nachos too. Diabetes be damned I ate this weekend, I love some pulled pork nachos.
One thing I wanted to express the importance of safety to this festival, VERY SMART LITTLE THINGS I noticed about the layout of this festival. See, this is a science and it takes an army to make it function, but it ALSO takes a brain for details. Port Potty doors facing AWAY from traffic flow so children cannot be injured running out of them, golf cart trails AWAY from main roaming areas, power cords coated with swimmy noodles.
Really the only thing I would have added were flag strips on all tent support ropes, and whomever had the idea of the kettle corn vendor in the main audience area did REALLY WELL, it got me to make an impulse sale just by smell alone. Oh YES food sales at festivals are 60-75 percent impulse sales based.
LaMay And Reese were introduced and steamrolled into a song called “Fireball Mail’, which was a locomotive song, recorded by Earl Scruggs. But in 1951 Roy Acuff also released it, as well as The Lonesome River Band in 1994. The next song was an original they wrote called “Silent Lonesome Sound”, that was created while he drove from New York to Texas on an often time basis. That song for me was easily ascertained to be quite personal to me, I could feel how sincere he was.
Their next song was an old traditional song called “The Cuckoo” and that was followed by an old Bob Dylan tune from 1956 and it was called “Takes A Lot To Laugh, Takes A Lot To Cry”, off of the album called Highway 51 Revisited. Perhaps the best song of this set was one he wrote to encourage her to marry him called “Down By The Willow Grove”, and he said it worked because ten years later they were married.
They played a Dwight Yoakam song called “The Heart That You Own” off the 1990 album called “If There Was A Way”, however their next song called “I Gave Her A Ring”, had a terrific hook in it. You will just have to check into this song here to get the full experience of that hook. In addition I wanted to stress on the vocal harmonies of this duo, it was really enjoyable if you like folk type music.
The next song was called “Hang Me Oh Hang Me” and it was featured in the movie Inside Llewyn Davis. They played another one Uncle Dave Macon recorded called “The Morning Blues”. My final FIRST impression of the main stage was that the emcee did NOT come up for long a duration and push to much information. They were all very succinct, and brief however on the same note they riled up the audience for the other stage and upcoming acts.
Now folks it’s time to move to the side stage for a little bit to see Mr. Eric Bolander. Earlier this week I got to stop and chat with Mr. Eric about what he’s got going on right now, and we talked about his album “The Wind” which I bought on vinyl. As the sun is beginning to set here in Somerset, I can readily enjoy the approaching relief from the heat today. Once again there were too many sponsors that make this event transpire, and I have a wonderful little spot here hidden away to work on these articles while the bands play. I’m going to go into further details about the sponsor of the second stage further into these articles.
They played a really enjoyable set here tonight, as he mentioned earlier the trio brought a bluesy sound with an Amerciana twist, and one can easily ascertain the heavy influence of John Moreland in this man indeed. He stood stalwart in front of his band tonight on the Eastwood Records Stage. “Closer To That Flame” was his first offering from “The Wind” album, along with the song called “The Road”. Now, if you’ll recall him saying that particular song spawned the rest of the songs off that album by itself. I was really impressed with the well written lyrics of the song “The Road”, it just flows so smooth and laid back….speaking of laid back here comes Laid Back Country Picker, more on him later!
All of his songs were originals tonight, like the song called “Do It Right”, and the song that he wrote about the first time he held and looked at his daughter called “Fly (Ava’s Song). Very soulful delivery of those heartfelt lyrics. His first album called Postcards To Myself was represented by the song “Get Carried Away”, to which he made the remark of a song that describes running away from his wife. Mr. Eric left us with satisfied hearts as he played the song called “Maybe I”….The smaller side stage was by NO MEANS a meager substitute for the main stage, OH NO not at all. In fact with all of the nice benches and places to enjoy music here, this was an impressive set up.
This property out here at the Somerset Community College sure is a nice place to hold an outdoor festival of this magnitude, with all the special events going on field wide, it’s hard NOT TO have a blast out here. I am absolutely enjoying myself so far this weekend, what a terrific festival to be a part of here.
Bendigo Fletcher and the bands that followed were different in their own way, and as I ate some wonderful supper in the shade here I heard this band perform their song called “Wonderfully Bizarre”, and they rocked out to other songs as well before I heard them play one called “Sleeping Pad”.
The folks over at the medical tent were SO NICE to me this weekend, and offered a clean place to take my insulin and check my sugars this weekend. They gave out free sunscreen and wipes to me all weekend, and although I had to have my own pills on me (some festivals have little lockers) they were skilled and helpful. One of them was even a diabetes educator, and we got to talking about metronics and insulin pump supplies. I made so many new friends here this weekend I was just gushing with glee.
One of the bands I didn’t know anything about was this one Joslyn And The Sweet Compression now folks I will be honest I missed quite a bit of their set. But I WAS IMPRESSED and I WILL make it up to them in the future…THIS BAND had so many different influences. I LOVE OLD Mowtown and they reminded me of that style, but the lead singer Miss Josyln made me tired just watching her dance.
I do remember the song “Honey, Be”, and one called “What Did You Think”. Folks I must tell you THIS BAND had rhythm and soul, I was reminded of Soul Train and all those wonderful REAL bands from American Bandstand and that era.
Each player in their own right displayed prominent love for their respected place in this band. Together you just had a damn well oiled machine full of greatness that I regret missing in total form, but you know there has to be time to eat and gather notes. This isn’t easy what i’m doing here…and bands like this are the downside of having to STOP to monitor my sugar and prep for my meals.
Before this next band that played on the second stage tonight there was a young lady named Bee Taylor whom brought a heavy dose of rock and roll and Americana here this weekend. In 2016, she released her debut album and has a self defined sound as ” Somewhere between Waits and Winehouse”.
My dear friends from East Kentucky just kept coming out for this one, as did my friends Luna And The Mountain Jets who consist of husband and wife Miss Teresa and Mr. David Prince ( AKA Laid Back Country Picker), and accompanied by Mr. Hayden Miles and Mr. Kenny Miles who are also with the Wayne Graham Band.
This is an Appalachian dirt roots rock band, and that’s all I can say about them. You cannot deny their strong sound or their classic rock infatuations, and never fail to entertain me when I see them. I was first introduced to them from my buddy W.B. Walker (whom I shall touch on later).
Most of their set list from today came from their 2016 offering called “Telling Stories” like the powerful song “Thanksgiving Day” which I’m sure we can all relate to family issues of that holiday. “Lies And Envy” had a good vocal delivery tonight, added by the superb sound job the crew did on this stage here, the instrumental portion of this song was good…. I had some issues on the sound at the main stage the next night.
“That Thing You Said” was from the first album Luna from 2006, there are three albums total. “Walking Away” was a breakup song pretty much with an upbeat tempo. Some of their songs are more on the lengthy side with all of the instrumentals, which is one of their strong points here.
The songwriting was pretty good on the song “Pepsi Girl” in a Coca Cola town, I felt that way last week when I returned to the place I grew up and didn’t recognize ANYTHING..lost in your own hometown. “Firefly” was next and they closed their set with the song “It’s OK”, both from the 2016 album. That was the conclusion of the second stage for the first day, and I returned to the main stage for a band I have been salivating over seeing ALL DAY.
Brace yourselves my dear friends because here is a band I speak VERY highly of, and have been digging into a LOT lately called The Dead South and much like Colter Wall (whom I recently also spent time with) they hail from Regina, Saskatchewan Canada. Mr. Colter played a previous Master Musicians Festival as well, and they also contributed to Mr. Colter’s debut album Imaginary Appalachia on the song “Johnny Boy’s Bones”.
This is a foursome band (with a pictured fifth member, I’ll explain in a bit). At this particular time we had Mr. Nate Hilts, Mr. Scott Pringle, Mr. Danny Kenyon and Miss Eliza Mary Doyle. This band came out with a slow paced song of darkness and woe called “The Recap”, which recaps a life of violence.
Many of their songs are about alcohol abuse and other vices like the song called “Every Man Needs A Chew”. These people dress the part they portray as fact, and their delivery is furious like the very first song from their 2014 offering Good Company called “Long Gone”.
Now Miss Eliza is currently on banjo, whom is actually a studio player that was hired after Mr. Colter their original banjo player was forced to leave the band due to exhaustion and fatigue from a rigorous touring schedule. We were told recently that the original banjo player Mr. Colter will soon be returning to the fold, with songs included in their set like “Banjo Odyssey” they need a good banjo picker.
2016 brought about their album called Illusion And Doubt, which delivered their next three songs one called “Boots”, which was absolutely loud as thunder and hell. This band plays like a well oiled machine with NO FLAWS whatsoever, they ram their songs up your ass with NO mercy. “The Good Lord” was a more slower and calm song with a hint of ragtime sound that I REALLY enjoyed the message here. This band juxtaposes so many great sounds into their own unique brand of darkness.
“Miss Mary” was next followed by the song called “That Bastard Son” with a young man looking for whores and the wild side of life. Because they have absolutely NO regrets of their lyrics in fact their signature song which got more response than any was called “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company”. That song begins with a thump and simple whistling that eventually rolls into a cryptic banjo roll, and creepy vocals.
As the sun began to set here in Somerset, and the dusk ushered in the night, they closed with their song called “Honey You”. Folks I CANNOT stress this enough GO SEE THIS BAND! They WILL BE selling out bigger venues VERY SOON, and The Dead South will be leaving a wake of corpses and burned villages along the way!
So now let’s talk about the last final act of the first day here, New West Records very own JD McPherson. Honestly as I write this, I’m also involved with another article about New West’s 20 year boxed set available SOON. His new album from last year called Undivided Heart And Soul brought us his opening song called “Desperate Love”.
This young man is just pure out simple rock and roll awesomeness and energy. His stage presence rivals none other in the game, and you get a LOT of bang for your buck on this cat. The twang and old time sound of his song “Crying’s Just A thing That You Do”, entertained the entire crowd here. The young kids were jumping around and older folks were jamming to the beat as well.
Mr. JD is well known for his ripping guitar solos, and with ‘Fire Bug” the beats and the solos overpowered the audience tonight. This man and his band mean business when they take the stage, and there is no dead air between songs on his set.
He just steamrolls from one song into another on this type of deal, like ‘I Can’t Complain” which has a really neat rolling piano entry tempo. I REALLY enjoyed the blues influenced guitar solos on this song, just absolutely amazing guitar work accompanied by easy to understand lyrics. One of his last songs I remembered was called “Country Boy”, one nice thing about Mr. JD is that all of his songs easily compliment each other in every aspect.
“Head Over Heals” was the only song offered from his 2015 sophomore album called “Let The Good Times Roll”, and that’s precisely what everyone did this weekend…we ALL let the good times roll.