Last night we ventured away from our hotel compound to the Manatee County Fair, south of Tampa. I'm working on editing the interview I did with Kristin Scott Benson at IBMA after she won her Banjo Player of the Year award and I had gone to the Grascals website to look for something and I noticed they had a show listed in Palmetto, FL. I consulted Google Maps and found that it was only 45 minutes away from our hotel, so I rounded up some folks to go with me, and we headed down.
Cap Spence accompanied me, as well as Tony Hauser and Tony Menditto, who also work on staging for the halftime show. The fair was a good old county fair with games where you can win big stuffed animals, rides, livestock, and an entertainment stage, which is where we headed. This was the first time I've gotten to see Kristin play in her new gig with the Grascals. She's been with them since November and has really settled into the job well.
Kristin had mentioned that one of the things she really had to work on when she got the job was playing fast, since the Grascals have some truly blazing tempos. Well, she's worked out that aspect just fine, and really turned in some killer breaks, especially on the fiddle tune "Bonaparte's Retreat," played out of D position.
The band played for a good 90 minutes and on their last number, "Orange Blossom Special", they donned baseball caps and told the crowd they were going to throw them out to the kids at the end of the song if they gathered down front. Well, not only the kids gathered in front of the stage, everyone else did too, standing and clapping right in front of the band, which gave a great energy to the song.
After the show was over a large crowd gathered around the record table to meet and greet, buy CDs, and get the band to sign posters. Kristin was talking to a young girl, probably about 13 years old, who said she was a Murphy Method student. Kristin said that Murphy's daughter was here and looked around for me. As it happened I was standing right there and talked to Emily, who has been playing about 4 years and has several of the DVDs. Her younger siblings also play and she shows them things. I told her that's exactly what Murphy did---teach her younger sisters how to play.
I also ran into Alice Chadwell, an old friend who used to live in Nashville but moved down to Tampa several years ago. I'd forgotten she lived here, but it was a great surprise to see her and get to meet her mom.
On the drive back to the hotel we listened to the Grascals newest album, "Keep On Walkin'", which is great. The Tonys Hauser and Menditto enjoyed their venture into the bluegrass world, and I really recharged my battery by getting to see my friends and enjoy a night of top-notch bluegrass.