Bristol Rhythm and Roots Reunion
Festival Recap by Miles, Jackie & Resa
September 14-16, 2007
We met early Friday morning at Gaye Adegbalola's house in Fredericksburg and packed Miles' station wagon full of instruments and wardrobe changes. We drove through rain for much of the six-hour trip and arrived in Bristol with plenty of time to register at our hotel and check-in at the festival site.
The Festival is mostly Old Time Bluegrass and Country Music. People travel long distances from various states to listen to and play fiddle and banjo dominant songs. The music started Friday afternoon and a jam was held Friday night by the artists, starting at 11pm, at a restored theatre in the center of town. Resa, weary from the long drive and preoccupied with M.S.G.'s debut, retired early; while Jackie and Miles hung out until the wee hours of the morning. We mingled with fiddlers, guitarists, bass, banjo and mandolin players backstage until unions were formed and jams begun. Jackie played bones and harp with several of the different inpromtu acts and Miles played guitar. We played with Matt Morelock, Dom Flemings from the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Chloe and Leah- two sisters from Rising Appalachia, just to name a few. We were having so much fun. We wandered out of there around 3am to drive back to the hotel, only because Saturday morning we were scheduled to play our first gig.
A word about the festival: it was one the more organized and well-run events we've ever been a part of. They had 14 stages and the times ranged from 5pm to 11pm on Friday, 9am to 11:30pm on Saturday and 12noon to 6pm on Sunday. The hospitality area for the musicians was in a culinary school where breakfast, lunch, and dinner were available for free all three days. The coordination was incredible and everyone was relaxed, gracious and anticipating our needs.
Saturday, we played at Java J's at 11am. All of us were significantly refreshed and energized by all the continuous music around us. The Java had a nice sized raised stage with a very savvy sound technician. The shop was packed with morning coffee drinkers and music lovers. Some people thought they were coming in just for coffee and sat through our entire set! There were so many people mingling around, we were told over thirty thousand folks that entire weekend.
At 6pm, we played The Manna Bagel Stage. We saw a couple of folks who heard us in the am. and returned for more. This audience really lifted us up. They laughed at our jokes. They sang along with us and, at the end of the performance, they gave us a standing ovation. Our audience was truly special. We've never quite had such an out-pouring of positive responses and what made it more gratifying was that we were in new territory, in front of people who were unfamiliar with our music and us…we won them over and they us!
At one of Rising Appalachia's gigs, Leah and Chloe invited Jackie up to play harp on a spiritual and the crowd loved it. We also got to spend some limited time with Dom, Rhiannon and Justin from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. The CCD are a young African American string band, who are carrying on the tradition of Black String Band music. Unfortunately, our performances were roughly at the same time, so seeing them or they getting to see us, for more than a moment, was pretty nearly impossible. We are kindred spirits, none-the-less, and we're looking forward to the next time our paths cross.
So in closing, that festival rocked, and as we were leaving Resa's statement summed up the weekend's festivities… "Wow, I can't believe we got paid to do this!" We just smiled at each other and quietly got in the car to drive home.