Sunday, May 27, 2012

KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Competition

As a teacher, there are few things that are as rewarding as seeing your students do well.  This weekend's KSMU Youth in Bluegrass Competition at Silver Dollar City was no exception.   A total of 20 bands were selected to compete in this competition from a field of almost 30 bands. Just making it to the competition deserves praise!  All four Illinois bands that competed this year got their start at The Bluegrass Shack:  The Worthing10s, Barbedwired and Lipgloss, The Pickin' Chicks, and Charlie & the Girls.  Two of these bands placed in the top five, but let me tell you more first!

Mr. D.A. Calloway and Silver Dollar City have quite the competition going on here.  They promote not only the bluegrass music, but they help the youth in bluegrass from all across the US meet each other.  The Youth in Bluegrass competition is actually part of the Bluegrass & BBQ event at Silver Dollar City, which was voted by the Illinois Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) as The Bluegrass Event of the Year!  Mr. Calloway himself was voted by The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America (SPGMA) as the Promotor of the year.

The competition is held over two days -- Saturday and Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend.  Each band has up to 6 minutes to perform each day.  There are three judges on Saturday, and three different judges on Sunday.  Bands are judged not just on their musical ability (both vocal and instrumental), but also on how they are able to work a single microphone (which is the main basis of this competition), their dress, and the audience response.

Now here's where I want to talk about some of the bands I watched this weekend.  They were ALL so amazing!  The new bands that I saw this year were the Bost Family Tradition, the Young Family Band, the Zepp Family Band, the Haining Family, the Smith Family Band, and WMD Bluegrass Band.  None of these bands placed in the top five, but all of them were good enough to have been in the top five!  Each of these bands had outstanding family harmony.  The mandolin player with the Bost Family is the Arizona State Champ, and it was easy to see why!  Their lead singer is a 16-year old, left-handed guitar player.  I especially enjoyed Pearl's harmonica playing and the Memorial tribute from the Haining Family. 

The rest of the bands I have seen before, and I am personal friends with some of them.  Lindley Creek is one of the bands I have been watching locally for at least 5 years.  We first met them at a bluegrass festival in Eureka, MO, and they have since been to our shop.  The Baker Family is another one of those bands that I have been watching locally.  These two bands are so talented and so entertaining!  The Burie Family is a band I have become personal friends with.  They are from Wisconsin and they have participated in our Hee Haw show and retreat for the past two years.  They were also voted Wisconsin's Best Gospel Band of the Year!  I got to hear Rebekah yodel this weekend for the first time.   The Bluegrass Blondies have been to our shop as well.  I met them last year at this contest, and then again in Mount Pulaski when we both played the same festival.  Very talented and such a nice family!  The Amber Waves Band was great last year, but even more amazing this year!  The River Berry Players is another band I first met last year.  I loved their performance of Petticoat Junction.

First time bands that came from The Bluegrass Shack were the Worthing10s Family Bluegrass Band and Barbedwire & Lipgloss.  I am so proud of these two bands!  They worked especially hard with me this year because it was their first year.  The Worthing10s included all TEN members of the band in their music.  Quite a feat since the children range in age from 3 years old up to 18 years old.  They played so well and had such great choreography (thanks to mom, Susan!).  If there had been a contest for best name, Barbedwire & Lipgloss would have won it hands down.  Even the emcee, Mike Smith from KSMU radio station, commented on how much he liked this name.  This is a young band, having played together for just a couple of years, but you would never guess that if you had heard them play.  They nailed their hard, a capella endings both days!

And now to the top five bands!
1st Place - The Sherman Mountain Boys
2nd Place - The Petersens
3rd Place - Prairie Fire
4th Place - Charlie & the Girls
5th Place - The Pickin' Chicks

Congratulations!  You all did a great job!  Am I proud?  You bet!

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