I wanted to write about what a great time I had at the Joe Val fest this year, and as I was looking at my 2009 post on this festival, I remembered why I gave up writing in this blog. The beginning would be exactly the same, and I wouldn't change a thing I wrote in the final section on bluegrass accordion.
This mid winter festival is still a great way to escape the winter doldrums, especially this year with a blizzard swirling outside for most of Saturday. Those of us who were lucky enough to be "camped" at the hotel had no worries about the outside conditions. A few bands couldn't make it due to the weather, but the Gibson Brothers filled in nicely on Friday for Sideline with a terrific set of vocal duets, and the Lonely Heartstrings band - denied an encore on Saturday morning in favor of keeping with the schedule - were a fine substitution for Junior Sisk. Desert Rose band's acoustic set was good, but I found it lacking in drive because their bass player apparently couldn't make it...All the songs they did were familiar and I don't know why one of the many bass players in attendance was not asked to fill in. Sister Sadie I think was my favorite "new" discovery - I had seen Dale Ann several times before but not with this group, and I was really impressed with the fiddling of Deanie Richardson and the playing and singing of all of the members of this all-female group. I missed IIIrd tyme out because I was pulled into a rollicking jam in the lobby, but my husband Joe enjoyed them very much.
Besides the non-stop jamming, some of my favorite moments were on the Showcase stage - there is always lots of variety there in a much more intimate setting. Especially thrilled with the debut of a "dance" set, as Brother's Rye (not really bluegrass but more of a jug band) actually got them to move some of the chairs out of the way so those of us who were inspired could do some high stepping if we wanted to. Could Joe Val fest be turning a corner? I also enjoyed Too Blue, Honky Tonk Masquerade, and EC's Moonshiners who all played on the Showcase stage on Sunday. All of these bands play a little different styles than bluegrass, like western swing and country/blues.
All in all a fantastic time with friends both old and new... Can we do it again next weekend?