Charleston Bluegrass Festival
Last Saturday afternoon at the Sewee Outpost, it took a band with more roots in rock than bluegrass to get folks on their feet, but once the crowd stood up for Asheville's Pierce Edens and the Dirty Work, they never returned to their seats.
Edens and his trio delivered one of the weekend's marquee performances, taking advantage of their prime 6 p.m. time slot as the singer/guitarist snarled his way through an upbeat set with his signature rumbling voice.
Athens-based Corduroy Road maintained the energy, with the crowd migrating back-and-forth between two adjacent stages between shows, allowing for non-stop music all day long. The quintet's official show was fun, but they shined best when they led the late night campfire jam from midnight until nearly sunrise.
All-girl trio Underhill Rose demonstrated that they deserved their 8 p.m. slot, singing pretty to a crowd that huddled close around the stage, before Atlanta's Mosier Brothers took the stage to roaring approval. Seconds into the Rev. Jeff Mosier's lightning fast banjo picking, the trio evidenced a heightened caliber of musicianship that served well to cap the day.
Apart from a few traditionals dropped into their sets by Hit or Miss (featuring Joel and Ward from Sol Driven Train) and the Mosier Brothers, the evening was mostly devoid of old-school bluegrass, apart from the aforementioned campfire jams. Friday night (April 6), however, was a different story, with Town Mountain pulling off one of the weekend's highest caliber shows. Gathered around one very hot mic for vocals, the veteran quartet showed off the chops that have helped bring them to the forefront of the traditional bluegrass scene nationwide. Out in the crowd, singer Shannon Whitworth and her husband, guitarist Woody Platt (of the Steep Canyon Rangers), kicked back and enjoyed the rare chance to hear their friends play without the pressure of performing themselves.
About 700 people attended the inaugural Charleston Bluegrass Festival over the weekend, in addition to performers and staff, and organizers Eddie White (of Awendaw Green), Brooks Geer (of the Sewee Outpost), and Perry Darby (of the Surf Bar) seemed pleased with the response. Everything Awendaw Green and Surf Bar do is laid back, and the festival matched that reputation. This wasn't Bonnaroo; there were no security pat-downs or long lines — or lines of any sort, for that matter. Someone even brought their pet goat. But it was a bluegrass festival, after all, and the vibe matched the bill.