Following the workshops on the Creekside Stage on Saturday afternoon at Merlefest, we were treated to three intimate sets with Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings, The Grascals, and The Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet.
Gillian Welsh and David Rawlings took the stage for the best set of the festival in my humble opinion. Their set proved to be the largest crowd ever drawn to the Creekside Stage. There were people even nestled in the trees for this set. When Gillian introduced Nobody Knows But Me she mentioned that it was the first song David and she'd ever sang together and that she wished she'd written it. Later, before she performed Tear My Still House Down she commented that she "knew it was done, the first time she heard someone else sing one of her songs". (Nashville Bluegrass Band) Other notable songs included Bye the Mark, One More Dollar, and I'll Fly Away. Another fan commented to me during the set, "When they are cooking, there is nothing like it!"
The Grascals followed Gillian and David and once again proved to be a favorite of the crowd. When you see these guys, you have no doubt about why they are racking up all those awards. There is so much energy emanating from the stage, it's high powered stuff! Their music is definitely "Hoe Down Music" with people on their feet dancing and clapping. Another aspect of their performance that make them crowd pleasers is their banter with the audience. During their set they performed most of the cuts from their award winning debut CD, "The Grascals" including Me, John & Paul, Hard Times, White Lightening, Viva LasVegas and Tear Drops in my Eyes.
The last set we saw at the Creekside on Saturday was The Peter Rowan and Tony Rice Quartet featuring Sharon Gilchrest and Bryn Davies. This group represents two legends, like well worn books, seasoned but well loved supported between the two shining beautiful bookends of these talented young woman. Peter Rowan dressed in his bright red print shirt with a signature cowboy hat in a cream color. Tony Rice, thin and stately in a suit jacket and black jeans and the girls dressed in lace, sequence and sparkles. The music was incredible. The set started off with Panama Red and was followed by an instrumental of unknown name but where each traded leads. Two other notable pieces included Angel Island and Wild Mustang Always Run Free
I learned on this day, that the lure of the main stage is enticing but being at the Creekside offered an intimacy not found on the other stages. Don't forget to wander off the beaten path to find the treasures within.
For more information on the festival check out the Merlefest website.
For more pictures of Merlefest 2006 - Checkout
Photo's by Big Al by permission
Photos by Chris Curtis
If you want to get a flavor of the festival, you might consider one or more of these recordings.