Bluegrass Today, Festy & Bristol Rhythm

It’s been a busy fall festival season for us. We covered both Bristol Rhythm and Roots and The Festy Experience for Bluegrass Today. Click here for the stories from two of our favorite festivals of the year. Bristol Rhythm and Festy.  We also talked to Emi Sunshine at Festy and are working on a profile of her as well. Watch for that soon!

Not everything we heard and saw in Bristol and at Festy fits into the bluegrass genre. Here’s a bit on the other great stuff we caught.


Joan Osborne

Joan Osborne was a treat at Festy. She’s a wonderful singer. We first saw her at Roanoke College back in the early 90s when she first broke onto the scene. Then she showed up with the Dead a few years later. Her albums are fantastic and her most recent efforts looks at the songs of Bob Dylan. Her set at FEsty was all Dylan, with a little interview time worked in as part of an Almost e-Town set with Nick Forster. Osborne said there was a moment of panic when she learned Dylan won the Nobel Prize for literature and she thought everyone would be doing his songs. At Festy, she sang Tangled Up in Blue and many other classic Dylan tunes. Her band has a great groove with a piano and guitar.

Also at Festy, the Drive-By Truckers played a great set. These guys are true Southern rockers. Their latest album is American Band. They did a wonderful heartfelt Tom Petty tribute, The Waiting. They also did a recent song called Perilous Night about the recent problems in Charlottesville that led to Nazi marches and the death of one young woman and two Virginia State Police officers. A similar, much smaller, march was happening again in C-ville at the same but we didn’t realize it from the venue that night.


Sam Bush

Sam Bush, the newgrass king, also addressed recent violence in America, just days after the deaths of 58 people shot and hundreds injured at a Jason Aldean concert in Las Vegas. Bush remembered those people and thanked the audience for coming out to listen to live music. He combined the sentiment with a Tom Petty tribute with I Won’t Back Down. After a terrible week of news from Las Vegas and the loss of Petty, it was a moment of unification for the audience. Later in his set, he played a new song called Stop the Violence.


Beats Antique

Another interesting band at Festy was Beats Antique. Some have described it as electronic tribal music. It’s heavy on drums and very visual. Three singers/dancers/drummers played drums but it was more of a performance. They were also cheerleaders and belly dancers. The show ended with a giant inflatable cat!


Ani DiFranco


Ani DiFranco did a great Festy set. Many in the crowd on a sunny Saturday afternoon were there to hear her brand of folk rock.

In Bristol, The Broadcast rocked the twin city festival. They are bluesy rockers with a killer singer. Amanda Shires did a great set of rocker fiddle music on the State Street stage. Dust Bowl Revival was still rocking the Bristol crowd late Sunday afternoon. The Cactus Blossoms were a new one for us but awesome. We also count ourselves among the new fans of Langhorne Slim and American Aquarium too. Hope to catch them again soon.

Both festivals included Phoebe Hunt and the Gatherers as well as Love Canon. Phoebe’s music is folky but with a good dose of bluegrass. Love Canon is a fun band and everyone loves to sing along to their bluegrass versions of songs we know by heart.