Duck Jazz Fest Highlights Great Weekend of Music

Davina and the Vagabonds headlined an outstanding day of music at the Duck Jazz Festival.
Davina and the Vagabonds headlined an outstanding day of music at the Duck Jazz Festival.

One thing is for sure—between the Duck Jazz Festival and the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival, the Outer Banks sure knows how to throw a music party.

Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival Highlights

We’ve had a chance to talk about the Blue Grass Festival, and it did not disappoint. Three acts in particular really stood out for us, although music is a lot like beauty—it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Love Canon, with their bluegrass arrangements of classic 1980s hits are worth a special trip to see. An informal survey pointed to their version of Sledge Hammer as being as good as the original if not better…really.

Flatt Lonesome is a young group—no one is even pushing 30. They’re talented, great vocals, and they take some chances, coming out with a different sound that is rooted in bluegrass with a distinct country flair.

Our favorite, though, had to be Billy Strings. The songs start as bluegrass but they wander off into other genres in short order. There’s rock, jazz chords and jazz riffs that are as good as anything out there. Amazing.

And for the traditional bluegrass fans—Rhonda Vincent truly is the Queen of Bluegrass. The consummate professional with an outstanding band, the Rage.

Duck Jazz Festival and Davina and the Vagabonds

The Duck Jazz Festival though is every bit as good as the Bluegrass Festival.

The Jazz Festival has become a two day affair, beginning on Saturday, but luckily Sunday is the main day so no one has to make painful choices.

The Robert Jospe Express—a trio of very talented musicians traced the development of jazz from the basic blues music to the African and Latin American beats that have helped to define it. He ended his show with at least 30 members of the audience on stage, clapping out rhythms.

Davina and the Vagabonds gets our Blue Ribbon Prize for the weekend as the best performance we saw. Great music, great vocals, wonderfully talented band, and Davina keeps up a conversation with the audience that is at once informative and funny.

Bluegrass Festival the OBX Place to Be

Balsam Range performing Thursday evening at the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.
Balsam Range performing Thursday evening at the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.
Great Music on the Outer Banks Stage

We had a chance to check out the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival yesterday and for any of our Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates guests visiting the Outer Banks this weekend, Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo is the place to be.

The weather is looking absolutely spectacular through the weekend, although the festival wraps up on Saturday.

Yesterday we caught Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, Balsam Range, and Steep Canyon Rangers at the festival. That’s three very big names in the world of bluegrass and they lived up to their billing.

The Rage is probably the most traditional of the groups, but Vincent has surrounded herself with amazing musicians and the result is bluegrass done right.

The vocals that Balsam Range brings to the stage is almost otherworldly they’re so good. How good?  Good enough that they have been named Vocal Group of the Year and lead singer Buddy Melton has been named Male Vocalist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

And then there’s Steep Canyon Rangers who have taken the traditions of bluegrass and stood them on their heads combining elements of rock, blues and classical in to their arrangements—and yet retaining a very pure traditional sound.

There’s more great music on tap.

Tonight—Friday—Rhonda Vincent comes back for an encore performance beginning at 7:45. Gene Watson closes out night with a 9:15 show.

Look for the Soggy Mountain Boys closing the show tomorrow night, but don’t come just for the last act; the Bluegrass Festival is an all day event and Roanoke Island Festival Park is a beautiful setting for the event.

Rhonda Vincent Comes to Roanoke Island Festival Park

Rhonda Vincent and the Rage in performance at Roanoke Island Festival Park Indoor Theatre.
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage in performance at Roanoke Island Festival Park Indoor Theatre.

The Queen came to town on Friday evening and she left little doubt about why she is royalty. The queen in this case was Rhonda Vincent sometimes called the Queen of Bluegrass because she has won so many awards in that style of music, honestly—after hearing what she and her band, The Rage, did with music, limiting her to “bluegrass” is wrong.

Entitled “An Intimate Evening with Rhonda Vincent,” she brought her show to the Indoor Theatre at Roanoke Island Festival Park.  Usually playing to festival crowds and audiences numbering in the thousands, Vincent seemed to relish performing before an audience of at the most 200.

The song selection she and the Rage performed Friday night was far broader in scope than she usually plays. There was, of course, a lot of bluegrass and some gospel—that is the genre she grew up, performing but there were some also a couple of surprises.

Her arrangement of Poco’s hit Crazy Love was original, taking full advantage of the skills of the Rage’s musicians, yet still true to the original.

Everyone in the band got to take a lot of solos, and in an evening where everyone stood out, Brent Burke on dobro was creating a new way to think of the instrument—venturing at one point into what sounded like jazz.

Along with some great music the evening was also filled with a lot of humor—probably because it was so relaxing.

A great show brought to the Outer Banks by Corey Hemilright’s Bluegrass Island. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage will be back in September for the Outer Banks Bluegrass Festival.