Blue might be the word in Wilmington, after last week’s news about DHL closing its operations there. I hope that event is averted, some way or another. We visited the Roberts Centre near Wilmington, Ohio last Friday and Saturday for another kind of blue, a fine bluegrass show presented by Joe Mullins.
A lot of bluegrass fans know Joe from his excellent singing and banjo work in the original Longview. Yes, that Joe. This is about the show, not Joe, but they are hard to separate. Joe produces the show, promotes it on his radio stations, sings on it with his band, acts as the MC and generally does whatever it takes to make the things work. Joe’s Band, The Radio Ramblers, performed jingles for many of his sponsors on the stage during his set. During one of the Radio Rambler’s sets Chuck Wait, of Chuck Wait Tire , asked Joe to throw some (Chuck Wait Tire) T-shirts and caps to the crowd. Joe had Chuck throw out the items, and the band played a jingle about Chuck’s business while he did so. Joe’s band also played jingles from other sponsors from the stage, and people actually applauded. I think the presence of the sponsors and the jingles drew the attention of the attendees into the bluegrass community in the area. It was reminiscent of the radio shows of old, with a commercial presence mingled with live performances. The presence of a music sales booth connected with Joe’s radio enterprise is more evidence of a coordinated effort in producing the show.
The exhibit and concession area featured several instrument dealers, an RV dealer, a jewelry dealer and a booth from Humana, a Medicare and health insurance provider, along with the hotel food concession. The food concession has expanded over time, and offered a pretty good variety of snack items, and a chicken dinner for those who wished to pay in advance. Among the other sponsors were a scrap metal dealer, a restaurant, and a recording studio. I know I missing some, but I’ve mentioned enough for you to see the synergy here that some other promoters may have missed. There was jamming in the hall, and several rooms set aside for that purpose.
So at more than one level, last weekend’s show was another reminder that it doesn’t hurt promoters to be involved, and interested in proceedings. Presenting the show is a big job, and it was well done. Joe often credits his staff and family for their assistance, and we know from personal experience how involved his family is. Tammy, Joe’s wife, helped us when there were problems with tickets and seat assignments at a previous show. She was calm, efficient, and always seems to be smiling. It can’t be that easy, folks, but she does it.
We we arrived Friday there was a fiddle workshop on stage with Joe as MC; BJ and Molly Cherryholmes presenting. In the audience were the members of Alternative Strings, a group from the Centerville (Ohio) School Orchestra. It was great to see teens explaining bluegrass playing to teens. I’m sure it was ten times more effective that having an adult do so. Alternative Strings was the first performing group of the day, and also joined Cherryholmes on stage later, presenting a song Molly has scored for some orchestral performances Cherryholmes will be making this year. Many of the kids from Alternative Strings were in the vendor area, trying out mandolins and guitars, jamming and having a big time for the balance of the day. Kudos to the instructors who are teaching a wider view of instrumental music in their orchestra programs!
Leroy Troy made four appearances during the festival. He took requests, and did everything people wanted to hear. He even did Grandfather’s Clock with borrowed picks. Let me say that again, BORROWED PICKS. Someone asked for the song during the kids show at the start of the day Saturday, and Leroy explained he didn’t have his picks, since he had planned to play GC during a later performance. Someone on the front row got up and supplied some, Leroy bent them a little and carried on without a pause. Picks are pretty personal, but it didn’t seem to slow him down.
Kent “Superman” Blanton played with Leroy, and did a great job.
In addition to Cherryholmes, Alternative Strings and Leroy Troy, the Primitive Quartet, Dailey & Vincent and the Lonesome River Band were part of the Friday show.
The stage area was packed when Dailey & Vincent hit the stage for their first show.
I noticed the line at their CD table was more than an hour long. Pro is the word; Jamie and Darrin stood till everyone was gone, posing for pictures, signing, smiling and acknowledging every fan. All the artists were available, and the fans enjoyed time with them.
I enjoyed seeing the LRB; we somehow missed their show at Fanfest last month. The current group has jelled and the performance was great!
Of course, we don’t think it hurts that Detroiter Andy Ball is in the lineup.
To summarize, Joe Mullins, his family, his radio stations and his band, The Radio Ramblers, and his retail sales outlet have helped create a bluegrass community in the Wilmington, Ohio area. In addition to being a great show, the Southern Ohio Indoor Music Festival is a vibrant part of that community. I’ll write about the Saturday show tomorrow; in the meantime, you can see more of Papa Pictures if you wish.
(And a disclaimer, we haven’t received any compensation from Joe Mullins, or any of his advertisers or enterprises.)