BG Festival, Wisconsin Style!

Bluegrass in the Pines 2011 - Dueling Banjos Uncensored
Bluegrass in the Pines 2011 - Dueling Banjos Uncensored
Anthony & Dale in "Dueling Banjos II: Deathmatch (Uncensored)"

Just got back from playing with The High 48s at an incredibly fun bluegrass festival in central Wisconsin called Bluegrass in the Pines. It is hosted by one of my all-time favorite bluegrass bands, Art Stevenson and Highwater. They have managed to put together an event that combines a great location (literally in the pines – full of shade, soft ground, fragrant air etc.), with top-notch music (Bluegrass PatriotsBriar Pickers,  Hand-Picked BluegrassSloppy Joe  etc.) and one of the most amazing, fun-loving, appreciative bluegrass crowds I have ever had the pleasure of playing for.

Highlights include: the dancing at every set (day or night), the all-ages crowd (infants to elderly), the top-notch jam circles, the local microbrews (New Glarus and Central Waters available on-site), the authentic Wisconsin dinners (fried cheese curds and beer), hangin’ with Highwater and, of course, the final uber-jam version of  “Will the Circle Be Unbroken”  to finish off Saturday night… Amazing!

Offstage antics at MBOTMA 2011

MBOTMA 2011 - Backstage with Bob Black
MBOTMA 2011 - Backstage with Bob Black
Backstage with Bob Black

It was a real treat performing at the annual Minnesota Bluegrass & Old Time  Music Festival last weekend, one of the best run festivals in the country IMO (IBMA “Event of the Year” nominee multiple years). Of course, I had an amazing time playing with the Mark Kreitzer Band on Fri. and Sat. (we were really warmed up after the previous weekend in SD), but I also had some great adventures far from the main stage as well.

MBOTMA 2011 - Old time clogging in Sherwood Forest
Old time clogging in Sherwood Forest

The highlight of the weekend for me was performing in the bluegrass banjo showcase with Bob Black, one of Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys (as well as one of the best melodic, “Keith Style” banjo pickers out there today), what an honor! Other great offstage experiences included: hanging with my new friends in the Foghorn Stringband for another weekend in a row; teaching an advanced banjo workshop to a really nice group of pickers; playing drums at a drunken, country-fried, Ranch House afterparty (Clay Hess being among the pickers!), and, it was my first time crossing party lines and camping with the Old-Time folks in “Sherwood Forest”– very hospitable people I must say (of course, I kept my finger picks in the case). All this and I got to see a bunch of great music on stage and off.