Going to try something a little different this year and post DAILY blog updates from ROMP 2022.
|SeMiBluegrass Camp at ROMP 2022 Stop by and say hi!|
Day Two (Thursday)
After a great night’s sleep in the camper, and a quick run to Walmart for those “Things I Forgot Because It’s the First Trip in The Camper This Summer” necessities, my day got off to a great start with a free-wheeling open jam with my neighbors Mary Beth and Ronnie. Like all great festival jams, people started coming out of the woodwork and joined in…many of whom I’d met at previous ROMPs and just sort of showed up again—like true “Festival Families”.
After a great lunch from Moonlite BBQ I settled into a LONG day of music. First up were the undisputed kings of Bluegrass Brother Harmony, the Gibson Brothers. With a great band backing them, they launched into a great set of their original hits and some timeless bluegrass classics. At times, their intricate and lush harmony singings made the hair on my arms stand on end. The fact that the opening band of the festival is usually found headlining and closing the night on the festival tour goes to show exactly how full of talent ROMP is from start to finish.
|The Quebe Sisters|
Next up were the Quebe sisters from Texas. These three sisters brought more “sibling harmony” and some well arranged “triple fiddle” to their original country and Western swing songs. With a simple backing band of swing guitar and upright bass, the sisters managed to fill Yellow Creek Park with sound and kept the crowd cheering enthusiastically for the whole set. When the bass player stepped up for a killer solo on one tune, the crowd erupted in appreciation. Not a band I was familiar with before the festival, but one I will surely follow from now on.
|The Incomparable Dan Tyminski Band|
What can you say about Dan Tyminski? From the moment he walked onstage with his untucked shirt and disheveled carefree hairdo and launched into “Man of Constant Sorrow” this Wildman, and self-professed “number one fan of bluegrass” put on a clinic of traditionally based bluegrass and what it can be—thanks in no small part to the incredible band he has put together. Dan told me he went out to find the four best pickers he could, regarless of age, and these four youngsters certainly demonstrated WHY he thinks so highly of them. Jason Davis on the 5-string has a unique, percussive and driving style that gives over-the-top energy to every song. Former Biology teacher (like me!) Maddie Denton is as equally at home throwing out hot fiddle breaks and licks as she is sharing a knowing wink and smile with her bandmates. Newcomer Harry Clark (Clarke?) on mandolin (also the “mystery mandolin man” from the Wednesday night after party stage) has me at a loss for words. Go see him. His sense of style, playing style, and stage presence simply defy description. And Gavin Largent—who borrowed a dobro for the weekend—showed the world why he is both one of the leading dobro pickers and lead/harmony singers in Bluegrass today. Bassist ______Davis, diminutive even next to the ½ size bass she play puts out gigantic, booming and rich bass lines that give the band their soul. I have truly never seen a better band, or one that visibly loves playing together every second on stage. It will be hard to top this performance, but there are two more full days of band who are going to try!
|The Punch Brothers|
The nights two headliner illustrated what modern bluegrass can be. Led by mandolin Phenom Chris Thile, and down a guitarist due to illness, the “newcomers” the Punch Brothers still put on ridiculously complex and entertaining set. Each member of the band is a true master of their instrument which allows them to create, explore and elaborate on musical themes creating complicated and amusing song lines. Established “Jamgrass” veterans Leftover Salmon closed the main stage with a nearly two-hour set of jam-based songs drawn from every corner of bluegrass music (including many “bluegrass adjacent” genres). Coupled with an incredible light show, and with the weather finally cooling down and cooperating, the set was infinitely enjoyable.
|Late Night Stage|
Kicking off the Jagoe Homes After Party Stage were the Hackensaw Boys. Kings of the stripped down sound (Guitar, Fiddle, Stand Up Bass and Percussion) the band played great set of toe-tapping, feel-good tunes that were infectiously groovy and had the late night crowd focused on every note. Alas, the LONG day in the sun caught up with me and I was not able to stay through the final band, Dark Moon Hollow, but by all accounts, they also put on one hell of a show. What an amazing day of music! And it’s only just begun!
Day 1 (Wednesday)
|Brennen Leigh on the After Party Stage|
Since this is the furthest I plan to travel this year, I left early on Wednesday and took by time enjoying the sights on my journey to Yellow Creek Park in Owensboro Kentucky for the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum's excellent festival, ROMP. My plan is to spend the next four days exploring the "Roots and Branches of Bluegrass Music" that this festival does so well. The lineup this year is nothing short of spectacular and I can't wait for the show's to begin!
One of my favorite parts of ROMP is the Jagoe Homes After Party Stage across a small bridge and through a fantasy fairy forest of lights and artwork in at the historic Pioneer village.. The festival kicked off on Wednesday night with two EXCELLENT bands playing to a jam-packed field of music fans. First up was Songwriter/Singer Brennen Leigh and her band with a killer set of original music ranging from Bluegrass to Country to Western Swing. Alive with vibrancy and bounce, all of the band's numbers had the crowd tapping their toes and singing along. I was thoroghly impressed when Ms. Leigh took her turn on a guitar solo breaking off a rich, complex and technical flat picking bluegrass break good enough for any bluegrass festival main stage. I highly recommend getting out to see her, you won't be disappointed.
|The Theo and Brenna Band|
Next up was a Kentucky brother/sister songwiter pair the Theo and Brenna Band. With a great mix of innovative covers (their barn-burner version of Simon & Garfunkles "Kodachrome" was a standout) and original composition, the band was tight, energetic and thoroughly entertaining. Backing the singers was a killer band featuring Maddie Denton (who I suspect will be playing with the Dan Tyminski band and East Nash Grass over the weekend) and a super-familiar looking madonlin player with some SERIOUS chops and one of the best Mandolin tones I've heard. With the late night show in the books, I headed off to a great night's sleep in the camper and many adventures to come!