Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Cabin Fever Picking Party 2014 in Virginia Beach

Ahhhhhh…temperatures finally in the 60’s today.  Spring must soon be on its way!!!

Needless to say it has been a long, cold, snowy winter and we all have a bad case of cabin fever.  Well the best way to cure that is to play some great bluegrass music with friends from near and far.  And that we did.

We have returned home from the 2014 Cabin Fever Picking Party in Virginia Beach, VA and I can say it was awesome.  We had some great jams, good food and visited with friends old and new.  I have looked forward all winter to seeing my young friends from the band Lonesome Sound from Sylva, NC.  Last we saw them we had jammed into to the wee hours of the morning at the IBMA.  We had a repeat performance at Cabin Fever.  I stayed out way past my bed time and had a blast. 

This video is snippets of the entire indoor event.  There is a few seconds at 8:51 of me jamming late Saturday night with Will, Mike and Robbie Benzing on banjo, Alby 'Bugsy' Lopez on mandolin from Marv Ashby and 
the High Octane band 

We met Jacob Jones and Will Howell four years ago at Cabin Fever when they were part of the Rye Holler Boys.  These are very talent musicians that are only out done by their politeness and charm.  They were barely 16 years old when we first met, now just into their 20’s they are road worthy musicians touring on the festival circuit.  We have run into these young pickers at Cabin Fever, Myrtle Beach and the IBMA’s.  We always have a great jam and lots of good times when we are together.  Jacob gets some drooling time over Lonnie’s Stanleytone banjo and I get to hear Will sing me “Free Born Man”.  This year we had the pleasure to meet their parents and visit with everyone.  Mike Morgan is the newest member of the group and every bit the gentleman and great lead guitar picker.

Their current band is Lonesome Sound that includes Wayne Crowe of “The Crowe Brothers” on upright bass.  We got to see them showcase on Saturday evening and they did not disappoint.  I had strict instructions from Will to be in the front row or he would not pick with me Saturday night…I listen real good…Lonnie and I were front and center for the show.  The crowd loves these young fellows and gives them lots of hoots and hollers during the show.  I got a real nice surprise when Will closed the show by saying he was asked to play a special song on Friday night when we were jamming…that would have been me…so he closed their Saturday show with Free Born Man but forgot to clue Jacob in before the song started.  Lonnie kept nudging me during the show saying Will was gonna sing that song for me…and he sure did.  He put it all out there, it was great!  After the show he jumped out from behind the stage and gave me a big ole hug.  He is going to be real lady killer some day…”sing me a song that will make me cry!” is what he always says.

After the Lonesome Sound show we caught the last show case band Kody Norris with our other favorite Stanley style banjo player Matthew Henderson.  Matt is another special young man with talent just pouring out of him.  There are two great Stanley style banjo players, Steve Sparkman and Matt Henderson.  They can play Ralph Stanley banjo just as good or better then Ralph.  Matt is just an awesome young man, very sweet and so very polite.  We got to jam a bit with him and his Daddy Herb on Friday afternoon.

Matt playing Lonnie's Stanleytone banjo...sounded as great as always and me on Polly Pretty Polly the 1937 Kay M-4

Hope Matt left some notes on it for Lonnie

Some of our other great friends and pickers that we visited with included Billy Lee Cox who is an absolute monster banjo picker and jammer.  He was in jam’s everyday for hours and I do mean hours…8-9 hour marathon sessions.  When I talked with him Saturday night he asked if I had herd the jazz jam on the 3rd floor.  Apparently he did an all jazz jam with Dennis Lee on bass and a top shelf guitar player.  I missed it, I bet it was awesome.  We caught a good bit of his jams on Thursday with Scott Brannon, Tracey Dent Rohrbaugh on mandolin and the lead singer from Big Country Bluegrass Eddie Gill and others. 

We also had time to visit with the ever charming and down to earth Al Batten and his sweet wife Gloria.  We always enjoy talking and picking with them.  You could not meet two nicer people that always make you feel welcome to sit down at the table and share a meal…which we have done!

All in all this was a great break from the winter weather and a much welcome high quality jamming and picking session that I was in need of.  Now that we got some good music in us we can brave the predicted 17 degree temperatures later this week.  We can’t wait until the IBMA’s where we will have an opportunity to see all our southern friends again.

Cabin Fever did not disappoint us.  It made the long winter melt away for a short time.

It was all good!

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