In Focus: Oak Mountain Bluegrass and Arts Festival 2014

When invited to cover the Second Annual Oak Mountain Bluegrass & Arts Festival I did not hesitate to jump at the opportunity. What could be better than enjoying some amazing live music in the beautiful Adirondacks? Located in the Hamilton County hamlet of Speculator/Lake Pleasant, this day long event offered family fun with camping, music, vendors, and good eats. With a stellar line up of Swampcandy, Remsen Social Club, The Old Main, Sleep Man Banjo Boys, and Nick/Jay/Nigel from Floodwood, you couldn’t go wrong.

Nick, Nigel & Braids – 2nd Annual Oak Mountain Bluegrass Festival

SwampcandyAs the party began, first up was Swampcandy, the duo of Joey Mitchell and Ruben Dobbs, who brought the beat with their stand up bass and ganjo, rocking those early attendees who had arrived early to secure the perfect spot up front .  These two young men bring to an audience a full piece band as they play and sing original tunes that express life as they know it.

The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys – 2nd Annual Oak Mountain Bluegrass Festival

Remsen Social Club – These four young men, Bryan Davies on tenor banjo, guitar, wash tub, bass, and vocals; Tim Slusarcyzk on upright bass, harp, and vocals; Ben carrier on guitar, mandolin, harp, 5 string banjo, and vocals; and Chris Taylor on Gatling harps, mouth harp, harmonica in a beer can (yes you read that correctly) and vocals bring something unique with their bluegrass, Americana sound.  Playing a mix of original music, such as “Over You Darlin” and “Am I Best” along with some all time favorite covers such as “Stuck In the Middle With You” by Stellars Wheel, they had the crowd wound up and ready for their day long of music and fun.

Remsen Social Club – 2nd Annual Oak Mountain Bluegrass Festival

The Old Main The Old Main showed up ready to give the attendees a show and then some. With Seth Becker on guitar, harmonica, and vocals; Robb Nash on upright bass, tin whistle, and vocals; Gavin Bailey on piano, accordion, and backup vocals; and Mitch Eckler on drums and backup vocals, this quartet certainly sounded as though they had been playing together for ages.  With two full sets to be performed, Seth and Nash took the stage first doing a whole set that included many originals and several covers of some of my favorite songs, such as “Folsom Prison Blues,” “Crazy” and “Winding Road”. The versatility of these two to be able to switch from bluegrass to rock to country was seamless, just as their transition to the second set when the whole band joined them on stage to entertain the attendees for the remaining time. Continuing the party for another hour, they were joined on stage by Chris Taylor from the Remsen Social Club on his harmonica in a beer can contraption that produced a unique reverberation and sound I must add .  Audience members could be found volleying beach balls, singing, and dancing along with the quartet for the entire time. If I had to describe their performance to someone who couldn’t be there…words such as fun, energetic, enlivened, would be a few words chosen to do so.

2n Annual Oak Mountain Bluegrass Festival Vendors

Sleepy Man Banjo BoysFor those who have yet to see these three young men, let me tell you there is nothing sleepy about them. The three brothers, Tommy, Robbie, and Jonny Mizzone, that make up The Sleepy Man Banjo Boys, have achieved huge success in their genre, all by the ages of 16, 14, and 11 years old. Seriously? Oh you betcha ladies and gentlemen. As I stood there with my jaw gaping, these three totally mesmerized me with their musical prowess and skill. They are not new however to the music scene as they have just released their third album. Already appearing at The Grand Old Opry and on the David Letterman Show, Sleepy Man Banjo Boys have acquired quite the following, and now have even more with those that saw them for the first time up to Oak Mountain.

Nick, Nigel, & Braids Always a favorite anywhere they attend, Nick, Nigel, & Braids closed out the Bluegrass Festival in true style. Their ability to bring the party everywhere they go makes them a favorite at every venue they play. With Nigel (Zach) on stand up bass and guitar, Nick on vocals, guitar, and banjo, and Jason (Braids) on mandolin and vocals, a dance party ensues each time they play. Bringing the true spirit of the bluegrass sound from the Appalachian Mountains all the way to our Adirondack Mountains, I can think of no one better to close the Second Annual Oak Mountain Bluegrass Festival than Central NY’s very own Nick, Nigel, & Braids. Whether playing individually, as a duo, or with the other members of Floodwood, their distinctive sound is the essence of true Americana music.

As the day wound down, the weather held out, the embers of the bonfire burned down, attendees departed and with a pep in their step and a tune in their heads, they looked forward to the Third Annual Oak Mountain Bluegrass Festival.

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