The NedFest version of Woodstock
by Dave Gibson
At Nederland’s own mini Woodstock last week, concert goers were treated to “three days of fun and music.” Even though the crowd didn’t chant “No Rain” when afternoon storms approached, as they did in Bethel, NY (site of 1969’s Woodstock), everyone got wet once or twice with bare feet muddied and still had “nothing but fun and music” at NedFest 2013.
Whitewater Ramble’s classic quintet of guitar, mandolin, fiddle, stand-up bass and drums, opened the festival with lightning-speed picking in what they’ve branded “High-octane Rocky Mountain Dancegrass.” Personally previously only aware of the musical genre “Bluegrass,” Mountain Standard Time’s “Freegrass” was an education blending a variety of influences while bringing things down to earth a notch with a more sustainable pace.
When San Francisco rock band Tea Leaf took stage, they had brought some of their fans with them. A young man and woman shouted their praises when he yelled “We follow man! We saw you in Long Island!” As they started to play, the girl totally lost it reminiscent of film footage of front row female Beatles fans in the mid 1960s. The rhythm-driven jams of the Funky Meters grooved into the night.
Sunday began on a good note (or notes) featuring local favorites Gipsy Moon with special guest Vince Herman. Often appearing at NedFest, accomplished musician and guest on the Discovery Channel’s “Deadliest Catch,” Vince always brings good tunes and times that I could listen to and participate in for hours.
There are few if any people alive today that perform authentic bluegrass the way that Dr. Ralph Stanley does. Born in 1927, his career spans an impressive 67 years. Teaming with his brother Carter, The Stanley Brothers released “Man of Constant Sorrow” in 1951. It is probably best known today from the movie “O Brother Where Art Thou?” starring George Clooney. When he was a child, Stanley’s father would sing the traditional folk song around the house. Ralph won a Grammy from the film’s soundtrack for his a cappella version of “O Death.” When he performed the Appalachian dirge Sunday, not a sound other than his voice was heard for blocks. Nursing a sore throat from a cold or possibly almost seven decades of touring, the eighty five year old Dr. Ralph had earned the right to stand on stage sipping a soothing glass of ice water while his Clinch Mountain Boys carried the day through the first few numbers. It was an honor, when Ralph joined in, to witness one of America’s last true bluegrass legends.