I surprised some friends and showed up at the Niles Bluegrass Festival. Chuck and Deb, Mike and Sally, were camping along the river. Tom and Sharon came by later; as did Lynn. I was going to come Friday but had driven the big truck since midnight and some weather blew through. I wimped out and ended up missing Jason and Hope and family. The Niles Fest is a great festival. And it is FREE!
Niles' downtown is downhill toward the river. At the bottom, on the north of the main drag is a nice park. The park has a large pavilion with the perfect grassy hill for an audience. Downriver from the Pavilion is a playground under some trees and then a large open field. Under the trees next to the playground, the Festival puts up a second stage. The open field is available for camping with the local Boy Scouts keeping it cleaned up. Between the main stage on the pavilion and the second stage was a parking lot where food vendors, trinkets and other stuff was available. There were also some tents for workshops. You could learn some bits about Guitar, Fiddle, Singing Harmony, Banjo etc.
The Niles Fest is Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It is really done very well. Check out their site. Also, on the same site is a summer schedule. Niles has free music on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Sundays all summer. If you can make it, don't miss Cornmeal on June 15!
On Saturday, I got up on stage with the Open Mic. It was really an Open Jam. I wasn't expecting to be on stage with a band. Usually, an open mic is everyone getting a turn on the mic. As I walked across the grass toward the guy running the PA, the band waved me up on stage. There was another guitar, two harmonicas, a fiddle and a standup bass. They were all very good. After they got done with the song they played as I got there, they looked me and said "What's your name and you're up, what are we playing next?" Wow! I don't know many bluegrass standards, but I like to play "Roll in My Sweet Baby's Arms." They all jumped in behind me, I sang, the others soloed and then we wrapped it up. It was great fun! Then we stumbled through a version of Freightliner Blues, one of favorites. The band did well hanging on behind a song they didn't really know. Our audience was 20 or so people on lawn chairs and the Boy Scouts back in there camp. The pictures look way better than the performance was, but I had so much fun. I haven't played in front of people I don't know in 20 years; especially in front of people I was reasonably sure were sober! :o)
Here are some pictures Chuck took for me. Click on the picture to see it full size.