Tuesday, August 26, 2008

2008 Fall Festival List

With Labor/Labour Day weekend just a few short days away, it’s time to plan your visits to a few of the splendid Fall festivals. Labor Day may be the symbolic end of the summer vacation season, but it also ushers in the much awaited Fall festival season.

The days will soon be cooler and just right for sprawling out on a blanket in the grass and enjoying some good food and drink and some great music. Mark your calendars, get out and hear some live music. As always, if I missed your favorite festival, leave a comment and tell us about it.

Upcoming Festivals

National Old-Time Country Music Contest, Festival and Agricultural Exposition of Arts and Crafts
LeMars, Iowa
August 25, 2008 - August 31, 2010
Website: http://www.oldtimemusic.bigstep.com/homepage.html

Bass Mountain Bluegrass Festival
Snow Camp, North Carolina
August 29 -August 31, 2008
Website: http://www.bassmountain.com/

Four Corners Folk Festival
Pagosa Springs, Colorado
August 29 - August 31, 2008
Website: http://www.folkwest.com/

Historic Happy Valley Old-Time Fiddlers' Convention
Lenoir, North Carolina
August 29 – August 31, 2008
Website: http://www.happyvalleyfiddlers.com/index.shtml

Louisiana Shrimp and Petroleum Festival
Morgan City, Louisiana
August 28 - September 01, 2008
Website: http://www.shrimp-petrofest.org/

Johnstown FolkFest
Johnstown, Pennsylvania
August 29 - August 31, 2008
Website: http://www.johnstownfolkfest.org/

Arbuckle Mountain 9th Annual Bluegrass Festival
Davis, Oklahoma
September 07 - September 13, 2008
Website: http://arbucklemtbluegrasspark.com/

Charlotte Shout Blues, Brews & BBQ
Charlotte, North Carolina
September 12 - September 13, 2008
Website: http://www.charlotteshout.com/

Roots & Rhythms
Eugene, Oregon
September 13, 2008
Website: http://www.rootsandrhythms.com/

Poppy Mountain Bluegrass Festival
Poppy Mountain, Kentucky
September 16 -September 20, 2008
Website: http://www.poppymountainbluegrass.com/

Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame and Uncle Pen Days
Bean Blossom, Indiana
September 24 - September 27, 2008
Website: http://www.beanblossom.com/
UDATE: dates corrected

Jam'n Bluegrass Style
Salemburg, North Carolina
September 18 - September 20, 2008
Website: http://www.jam-n-bluegrass.com/

Chattahippie Music Festival
Chattanooga, Tennessee
September 18 - September 21, 2008
Website: http://www.chattahippie.com/

Bristol's Rhythm and Roots Reunion
Bristol, Virginia
September 19 - September 21, 2008
Website: http://www.bristolrhythm.com/

Hoppin’ John Old-Time & Bluegrass Fiddlers’ Convention
Silk Hope, North Carolina
September 19 - September 20, 2008
Website: http://www.hoppinjohn.org/home.html

Roots 'N Blues 'N BBQ Festival
Columbia, Missouri
October 3 – October 4, 2008
Website: http://www.rootsnbluesnbbq.com/

Festivals Acadiens et Creoles
Lafayette, Louisiana
October 10 – October 12, 2008
Website: http://www.festivalsacadiens.com/

Richmond Folk Festival
Richmond, Virginia
October 10 – October 12, 2008
Website: http://www.richmondfolkfestival.org/

61st Original Ozark Mountain Folk Festival
Eureka Springs, Arkansas
November 06 - November 09, 2008
Website: http://www.theaud.org/

RiverCity Bluegrass Festival
Portland, Oregon
January 09 - January 11, 2009
Website: http://www.rivercitybluegrass.com/

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Once Every Four Years

The Olympics were a grand spectacle of human excellence and a welcome break from the nightly onslaught of bad news.
I’ve always enjoyed watching the Olympics and the Beijing Olympics were an exciting couple of weeks. No Olympics has been without controversy, but you’ve got to hand it to China for hosting a great event. Congratulations to all of the athletes.

Now that the Olympics are over, the other event that only comes around every four years is about to begin in earnest. The national conventions of both major American political parties will kick off the race to the elections in November. The next ten weeks promise to be filled with a deluge of political ads and all of the empty promises and half truths that traditionally accompany presidential elections.

“On account of being a democracy and run by the people, we are the only nation in the world that has to keep a government four years, no matter what it does.” – Will Rogers

Sir Lancelot - The Century of the Common Man.mp3

Norman and Nancy Blake-The Democratic Donkey (Is in His Stall Again).mp3

Chad Mitchell Trio - One Man's Hands.mp3

Woody Guthrie -This Land Is Your Land.mp3

Sunday, August 17, 2008

The Del McCoury Band & Various Artists: Moneyland

“All of my family grew up in rural America, a place where hard work is rewarded, friends are always ready to lend a hand to someone in need, and they still believe in the "original" Golden Rule--"do unto others...". That's why I can't ignore what is happening to hard working folks all across this country--but especially in rural America. Most have worked just as hard as I have, and love their kids and grand kids just as much as I do--but they've had some bad breaks. If their jobs are going away--along with their pensions in many cases, their hospitals are being closed, and they are struggling to meet their basic needs--I have to do what I can to help.” – Del McCoury

Bluegrass great Del McCoury’s new single, “Moneyland” (written by John Herald), is the centerpiece of this multi-artist compilation album aimed to bring attention to the plight of the working folks of America. All of the songs here speak to the widening economic gap between the top 1% and the 99% of us that are finding it more difficult to find a decent job, afford healthcare, food, and housing for our families.

The CD is bookmarked by excerpts from a couple of once-more pertinent radio addresses from Franklin D Roosevelt’s “Fireside Chats.” Bluegrass pioneer, Mac Wiseman, introduced Del McCoury to Bernard ‘Slim’ Smith’s 1932 recording >”Breadline Blues”, Smith’s original follows the first of FDR’s chat. A newly updated version,”Breadline Blues 2008”, leads into the closing chat. Del Mcoury is joined on this contemporary version by Mac Wiseman, Tim O’Brien, Gillian Welch and David Rawlings.

Between the double bookends, Moneyland is a collections of songs, new and old, about what Del McCoury calls the “Forgotten America” – the working people. The Del McCoury Band brings three new songs to this collection, including a remake of the Beatles’ classic “When I’m 64” and a hilarious story of a rich man who moved to the country to become a rancher entitled “Forty Acres And A Fool.” Country Music Hall of Famer and voice for working folk, Merle Haggard, provides his 1973 classic "If We Make It Through December” and from his 2007 release, "What Happened?" Dan Tyminski supplied his 2001 recording, “Carry Me Across The Mountain,” based on a true Depression era story of a child in need of far-off healthcare. Emmylou Harris and Rodney Crowell provided their moving version of “Mama’s Hungry Eyes.” Merle Haggard and Marty Stuart sing of the “Farmer's Blues.” Pianist Bruce Hornsby provided a reworked version of his 1986 hit, “The Way It Is” with the gospel group The Fairfield Four. Patty Loveless supplied a moving rendition of “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” Chris Knight's contemporary song of rural economic desolation, “A Train Not Running” tells the sad tale of families devastated by closed workplaces.

"I'm in a position where I can make good choices," McCoury says reflectively. "And aside from just doing what I do musically, I can help others do the same themselves, and get a message out that people need to hear and think about-and, especially in an election year, take action on. This isn't about party politics, it's about doing what's best for our country and everyone in it, not just a lucky few."

The Del McCoury Band - Moneyland.mp3

Chris Knight - A Train Not Running.mp3

Artist: Del McCoury
Artist Website: www.mccourymusic.com
Title: Moneyland
Label: McCoury Music
Release Date: July 8, 2008
Available for: purchase or download from: McCoury Music, Amazon.com, Plan 9 Music, or your independent local record store.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

No Escape From Sprawl

It had been more than a few years since our last getaway to Smith Mountain Lake. I’ve always enjoyed the simple peace and beauty of the area.

When Smith Mountain Lake was first developed its shores were spotted with trailers, fishing shacks, and modest lakeside homes. The home where we stayed on this last visit, pictured above, is typical of the homes built along the shores as the waters filled in behind the new dam in the 1970s. Although Smith Mountain Lake is located between the mountain cities of Roanoke and Lynchburg, it is accessible only by twisting mountain roads, as no major highways pass through the hills and hollows that surround the lake. For years this lack of interstate access helped to keep the area around the lake mostly rural farmland.

On our first morning there, we paddled our kayaks past the docks and boathouses and out of the cove. As we rounded the bend into the next cove, we were saddened to see that the shoreline was lined with rows of ostentatious new structures. We have seen whole developments of these pretentious McMansions sprouting from newly subdivided farms throughout the county back home, but here in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains they seemed especially grandiose and, to our thinking, out of place. I suppose I was more disappointed than surprised. These garish public displays of over-consumption and inflated self worth seem to be popping up everywhere, why not a serene mountain lake?

I’m not the only one who has noticed the encroachment of McMansions on once rural areas.

Chuck Brodsky - The Come Heres and The Been Heres.mp3

Artist Website: www.chuckbrodsky.com.
I have featured the poignant songs of Chuck Brodsky many times in past posts. His CDs can be ordered directly from Chuck Brodsky or from Amazon.com.

Susan Trump - Shacks and Chalets.mp3

Artist Website: www.susantrump.com
This cut is from Susan’s wonderful CD of mountain songs, ”What the Hill People Say”.
Check out all of Susan Trump’s CDs here.

A recent Smith Mountain Lake home renovation by Noonkester Construction

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Blue Ridge Getaway

The view in the photo above greeted me for the past five mornings as I stepped out onto the deck, mug of hot coffee in hand. We just returned from a relaxing five day getaway to Huddleston, Virginia and the cabin we rented on the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake.

I have lived on the rolling hills of the Piedmont plateau for most of my life, nestled between the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Blue Ridge Mountains to the west. I learned to paddle along the Piedmont Breaks, the geographic fall line from Washington, D.C. to Northern Georgia, where rivers flowing from the mountains tumble to the calmer waters of the Coastal Plain. As a young man with a new driver’s license and old kayak, I spent many weekends along the Blue Ridge searching for the origin of beloved waters.

During my travels around this continent I have met more than a few people who left their homes in the Blue Ridge in pursuit of love or money. Nearly all express a touch of homesickness for their mountain home. I’m glad that the hazy hills are just a short drive, and yet a world away from my daily grind.

Thanks to the rich musical heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains, all it takes for a brief escape is to close one’s eyes and drift away down a shady mountain road.

The Stonemans - Blue Ridge Mountain Blues.mp3

The Country Gentlemen - Blue Ridge Cabin Home.mp3

The Delmore Brothers - Going Back To The Blue Ridge Mountains.mp3