FESTIVAL REPORT: by John & Katie Brutcher

We're back for what should be yet another exciting year of bluegrass music, and looking forward to bringing you our feedback from all our travels and sharing our adventures with you. Hoping to see ya all out there on the fields with us.


Overcast skies, down pours and blustery winds could not prevent the start of the newly formatted 4-day Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival. This was not how we expected to start our bluegrass season, but the phenomenal line up, to this annual trek, did not disappoint.

Campers and festival goers started setting up on Thursday, this year. After several wardrobe changes, to keep dry, John and I, along with a new member of the CNYBA, Mac Claflin and his wife Cathy, made our way to the main festival tent where OFF THE WALL kicked off the festival at 6 pm. This local band is mostly from the Camden, NY area.

From Nashville, THE GRASCALS, hit the stage with two shows, playing their first big hit, "Me, John & Paul" and "Are You Up To Getting Down Tonight". "Weary Cowboy" and "Time", written by our very own local songwriter, John Cadley were also performed. They continued with hits like, "Walk'in", "Hard Times", "Bluegrass Melodies", and the TV theme song to American Pickers, which you will find on the HISTORY channel, "Here Comes the American Pickers".

The GRASCALS also beautifully performed, "I AM", which is a song about the children at St. Jude's Hospital.

The down pours continued on Friday, as we waded through mud and followed the sea of multicolored umbrellas to the main tent.
The LAKE EFFECT BLUEGRASS band, led by Steve Millett out of Caughdenoy, NY, got things up and tapping with their new, reconfigured band including newest members Shawn Martin on mandolin, Gordon Lyons on banjo, and Charlie Ingersoll on dobro. They opened with, "Love, Oh Love, Please Come Home", and the "Old Home Place". They sang a Gibson Bros. song, "It's A Long Ways Down".

Dave Willson, their fiddler, pleased the audience with his yodeling and Karen Campolieto kept a reliable, steady beat on bass.

Friendly banter went on about lake effect snow, lake effect rain, and lake effect sunshine, which we were all hoping would show itself, but momentarily the audience seemed to forget about the weather outside. Everyone took their turn on "Salt Creek", which was their instrumental number.

DARIN & BROOKE ALDRIDGE'S program included their new release "Home". I did not know that Becky Buller is now part of this duo as their fiddle player. They played, "The Window Sill Song", which Becky co-wrote with Tom T. & Dixie Hall. I always wondered how she was able to make that "trill" sound on the fiddle and now I know. It was exciting to watch her perform this.

John & I were really looking forward to the next band, having heard them so often on the radio and always missing them at other festivals. JOE MULLINS AND THE RADIO RAMBLERS did not disappoint. This very professional group does it all. They are mostly out of the Ohio and have a new CD out titled, "Hall of Fame Bluegrass". This is one band that you should definitely check out.
Of course, what would a Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival be without AUDIE BLAYLOCK & REDLINE. They come in fast and hard driv'in and they leave even faster and hard driv'in, but this is another band that can do it all. They played a crowd favorite, "Drink Up and Go Home", a sensitive number, "Fools Such As I", and the classic, "Back Up Push".


An advocate for the mandolin, MIKE COMPTON is a one man performer, at least on this occasion, playing his mandolin and singing. It was an interesting presentation, and quite entertaining. I'm glad I saw him. He played, "Frogs On The Lilly Pads", "Bring Your Clothes Back Home and Try Me One More Time", and "Roxanna's Waltz".
Once again, Buckridge Chainsaw Sculpture donated a bench seat. Terry McKendree does a beautiful job. There were also food vendors and a bluegrass academy for kids w/ Aaron Foster. There were other prizes given away and a 50/50 raffle.

THE CROWE BROTHERS, from Maggie Valley, NC, delighted us with some of their hits like, "The Winds Are Blowing in Maggie Valley", and "Engineer's Don't Wave From the Train Any More" and their newest recording, "Eighteen Wheels". Ryan Blaylock, no relation to Audie, was on banjo and The Crowe Brothers performed a rendition of "Remmington Ryde" which was the fastest I've ever heard it played. In order to get the "chop" sound of a mandolin, their bass was outfitted with a tambourine. Talk about innovation. It sounded pretty darn good, too.

THE LINDSEY FAMILY BAND took to the stage for two sets. It's wonderful to watch these kids grow up and see how musically talented they've become.

The host band for the festival, THE ATKINSON FAMILY BAND, did a tremendous job this year performing everyday tolerating all the rain and mud.

By now, we had enough. We let the weather get the best of us and we headed home. By 9PM, I was sitting in my hot tub with a glass of wine saying . . . ahhhh!

The Traveling Bluegrassers,
John & Katie Brutcher