Went to a Bluegrass Festival the Other Day

Milan (Mini) Bluegrass Festival 2020


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Went to a Bluegrass Festival the Other Day

Got a call from Mark Gaynier about a month ago. Mark owns KC Campground near Milan, Michigan, and hosts the Milan Bluegrass Festival every August. This year's festival had to be cancelled, of course, but Mark wanted to invite me to an afternoon show with three bands, and a small group of spectators. So we and a couple dozen others spent a Tuesday afternoon at Mark's place, listening to music and chatting with friends. It was a good day. The bands were Huron Ridge , which is local, the Dave Adkins Band , an established national touring group, and Steve Thomas & the Time Machine , a new touring group with a veteran leader. The show was recorded--you can see Nick Failla and his camera in this photo--and Mark's posting parts of the program as pay-per-view shows to benefit the bands. The first show was Saturday, October 10, featuring Dave Adkins.

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The Dave Adkins Band performed

Had a chat with Dave, once, about the difficulty of keeping the membership of a band stable. People get married, personalities clash, folks decide they don't like living in a van.... Looks like he's solved all that; this is pretty much the same band he brought to Milan in 2019. A good thing, methinks. Dave's performance was streamed Saturday, October 10.

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The Venue Wasn't Crowded

We came to listen--which was good, because one purpose of the "crowd" was to give the bands an audience. The organizer's priority was clearly getting a good recording of the performers. We all seemed to be regular festival attendees; most of the faces were familiar. Social distancing was easy, and mostly we were well-behaved. The band on the stage here is Steve Thomas & the Time Machine.

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Will Clark

The new guy in the Dave Adkins Band plays mandolin and sings harmony. Mark Gaynier, host of Michigan's Milan Bluegrass Festival, streamed the Adkins band's performance on Saturday, October 10.

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Bobby Davis

Bobby's been with the Dave Adkins Band for a couple years, now. Of course, this year's been pretty much a lost cause for all performers.

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Joey Shann

If you watch the Milan Bluegrass Festival's stream of Dave Adkins' recent show, pay attention to Joey's banjo work. It's really quite fine.

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Here's Dave

Dave Adkins is a big guy with an even bigger voice. But he's not a shouter; instead, he's a delightfully expressive singer. He tells stories, too. Some are funny, others are interesting and sensitive. All in all, he's a talented guy who seems to love being on stage. It was good to see him up there last month.

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Dave Adkins Called the Crowd "Intimate"

A matter of perspective, methinks. There were just a few of us (thus, "intimate"), somewhat scattered in a space that often holds thousands. We all had a good time. And I enjoyed (re)watching Dave's part of the show last night on the Milan Festival's livestream.

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Steve Thomas & the Time Machine also appeared

Steve Thomas has been active in Nashville's music scene for nearly forty years, mostly as a fiddle and mandolin sideman with bluegrass and country bands. I saw him with The Cardinal Tradition a few years back, and likely with the Osborne Brothers in the late 1980s (I confess I only really remember Bobby). Given his resume , I likely saw him with other groups and have forgotten. And not many years ago he and Mark Newton released one of my favorite bluegrass albums . This group was obviously delighted to be on stage on September 15. Steve formed The Time Machine about a year ago, and they released their first single ( Down in the Wildwood ) last October. A new band, they'd only played a few gigs before the pandemic closed down the touring music industry.
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