Friday, November 15, 2013

Mountain View AR 2013 Fall Bluegrass Festival
at the Ozark Folk Center

Buck White, Pam Setser, Sharon White, Cheryl White, Steve Thomas

Photo courtesy of Vic and Pam Setser

     All right, I confess! I love bluegrass music! And bluegrass gospel inspires me beyond imagination! When bands such as THE WHITES come around, I am going to be there. When Mountain View's own PAM SETSER joins The Whites for "Wayfaring Stranger," you know I am going to be there! Pam Setser performs regularly in and around Mountain View. Be sure to catch her and her friends this holiday season at "Caroling in the Caverns" in Blanchard Springs, AR. You will be delighted with the performers and the beautifully-lighted caverns!

     The Mountain View Bluegrass Association puts on a festival at the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View, AR, in the fall and spring of each year. For three days, November 7-9, 2013, the Association threw a big bluegrass party for 1,000+ ardent fans, and the fans got their money's worth.
     Starting the night of gospel music were the HARTLEY FAMILY, LONESOME RIDGE, and CODY SHULER & PINE MOUNTAIN RAILROAD. Pine Mountain Railroad performed Over in the Gloryland, Gonna Be Movin', Let's Meet by the River, among others, and they closed with I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy. Their instrumental and vocal work were impeccable!

     While this writer had not seen or spoken with The Whites for much too long, she can tell you that 30 years vanished like they were yesterday. BUCK WHITE is legendary in bluegrass and Texas swing music! He ate up the mandolin and tickled the ivories to a fare-thee-well! His harmony with daughters SHARON WHITE, and CHERYL WHITE brought tears! It was splendid! An extra treat was the introduction of local favorite PAM SETSER. Pam said what a treat it was to get to sing and spend time with her friends The Whites. The joy continued with the introduction of the legendary fiddler, STEVE THOMAS. It was a genuine pleasure for everybody in the auditorium.

     The Whites' program consisted of the following gospel songs: There's a Higher Power, The Baptism of Jesse Taylor, I Just Steal Away and Pray, Buck's Run (of course), Dust on the Bible, In the Cross, Follow the Leader, Down Home Waltz (Steve Thomas' instrumental), I've Got a Mansion Just Over the Hilltop, Wayfaring Stranger (great version with Pam Setser), Livin' in the Name of Love, I'm Doin' It by the Book (Buck on piano), It Ain't What You Know But It's Who You Know, Golden Slippers, Keep on the Sunny Side, and they closed their portion of the program with Swing Down Chariot.

     Friday evening brought new and exciting bands for some traditional bluegrass music. VOLUME FIVE is rather new to this writer, but they are one fine band! Headed by Iuka, Mississippi's own  GLEN HARRELL on fiddle and vocals, the band is solid traditional with a twist! Harrell is aided by his terrific band mates, PATTON WAGES (banjo and vocals), CHRIS WILLIAMSON (bass and vocals), HARRY CLARK (mandolin and vocals), and JEFF PARTIN (Dobro[r] and vocals). Look them up online and they will play for you right then and there! Volume Five performed Like a Stone; Sweetheart of Mine; The Lamb, the Lion, and the King; Until I Found the Lord; The Gospel According to Luke (powerful song); King of California; See the Big Man Cry (a Charlie Louvin song); The Thorn Tree Shade; The Rich Man's Daughter; Hickory Holler's Tramp; and a barn-burning version of My Walking Shoes Don't Fit Me Anymore. 

     CODY SHULER & PINE MOUNTAIN RAILROAD have been around for quite a while now, and they've got it down! They're solid with their tight vocals and instrument work. CODY SHULER (mandolin and vocals) is supported ably by BILL McBEE (bass and vocals), MATT FLAKE (fiddle and vocals), and JERRY COLE (guitar and vocals). The guest banjo player for the weekend in Mountain View was world-class artist, TERRY BAUCOM! Solid? Ah, you bet! The band's more traditional bluegrass tunes were When Snow Falls on the Bluegrass; Is This the Part Where You Tell Me Goodbye; Knee-Deep in Bluegrass (Baucom instrumental); Thank God for the Red, White and Blue (tribute to veterans); I Cried Holy to the Lamb; I Don't Worry About You Anymore; Rank Strangers; Cry from the Cross; and their very popular song, Beyond the Rain.

     NOTHIN' FANCY is a bluegrass band that defies description! While their name may imply that they're nothin' fancy, in fact, they are mighty fine! They drew the audience in and didn't turn 'loose! Nothin' Fancy is based in Virginia, and their sound just oozes with influence from Charlie Waller and the Country Gentlemen as well as the Seldom Scene. Leader MIKE ANDES (mandolin and vocals) and his very capable musical friends MITCHELL DAVIS (banjo), JUSTIN TOMLIN (guitar and vocals), CHRIS SEXTON (fiddle), and TONY SHORTER (bass and vocals), are one of the most entertaining bands we have seen in quite a while. To educate yourself, just check out Nothin' Fancy online and read their bio information. You will be astounded! Mike Andes readily admits that he appears to be maybe a hippy escapee from The Farm at Summertown, Tennessee. His long hair and folksy ways are quickly forgotten when he plays and sings. This guy knows his stuff! Then, there's Chris Sexton, whose fiddle reverts to classical violin at a moment's notice. What an entertainer he is! Mitchell, Justin, and Tony all do their special parts in making Nothin' Fancy an exciting band. What about their selection of songs? There's Down by the Waterfall, Thanks a Lot, Take this Hammer, I Remember the Touch of Your Hand (powerful), Fly with the Angels, Mama Done Stepped on the Scales Again, Little Wooden Crosses, Someday We'll Meet Again, A Good Woman's Love, Darby's Castle, Wait a Minute, Two Little Boys, Sea of Heartbreak, Darkness and Dirt, Back on My Mind Again, Orange Blossom Special, and Walk Through this World with Me. 

     THE REDHEAD EXPRESS (four red-headed girls) and their counterparts THE WALKER BOYS (three brothers of the red-headed girls) were delightful and so talented. From Alaska, they were influenced by the band Cherryholmes and they are surely headed for real success! They lack for nothing in vocal and instrumental work! They've got it!

     We regret to say that JUNIOR SISK AND RAMBLERS CHOICE had to perform without this writer. We don't move as fast as we once did, so we beat the crowd of over a thousand out of the auditorium, most of whom clambered for the shuttle buses (knocking people aside in the process) to take them down the steepest of hills to the parking lot. A wonderful bus driver took us right to the car and we made it safely back to our delightful Pinewood Cabins. Thanks, Mr. Bus Driver!

    A couple of things stuck in this writer's mind, and both are fixable: Firstly, the Ozark Folk Center does not recycle plastic or cans. There were mountains of plastic bottles and cans for three straight nights and plenty of trash cans for those items, but the bottles and cans were likely carted off to a landfill somewhere. That's a shame! Secondly, members of a band walked onto the stage carrying a sign while another band was performing. That's distracting and quite inappropriate! It happened in 2012, and it happened again this year. When a band is performing, that is their moment! Other bands should respect that notion, and most do a fine job with it.     

     Gripe session is over...we thought you might enjoy some photos from our weekend in Mountain View, AR. If you haven't been, you need to go soon!

     Special thanks to REDMOND KEISLER and his crew for some very fine sound work during the entire weekend! They know their bluegrass and what it should sound like!

Jimmy Driftwood Barn - Folk Hall of Fame Mountain View AR

Fall of the Year at Pinewood Cabins Mountain View AR

Impromptu Pickin' at Stone Co. Courthouse Mountain View AR

Veterans Wall at Stone County Court House Mountain View AR

Sharon, a fan, Cheryl, and Buck White at Ozark Folk Center

Favorite View from JoJo's Catfish House Mountain View AR

Pick away!

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