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On The Scene: The Bluegrass Ball

Arts blogger Andy Weber took in the The Bluebird's evening of New-Grass and traditional tunes.


Photo: Rex Thomson,

Cornmeal performs on the stage of the Bluebird.

We know you’re not always available to attend the local shows you’d like, so our Arts bloggers are hitting the venues for you. Andy Weber took in the The Bluebird‘s evening of New Grass and traditional tunes.

The Bluebird played host to The Bluegrass Ball on January 29, a bluegrass music event with performances by The White Lightening Boys, The New Old Cavalry, Cornmeal and Travelin’ McCourys.

The night kicked off around nine o’clock with a set by The White Lightening Boys, a Bloomington bluegrass band lead by singer and mandolin virtuoso Barry Elkins.

The Lightening Boys did a great job loosening up the crowds’ feet and closed the set with a crowd requested cover of Snoop Dogg’s 1995 hit “Gin and Juice.”

Up next was Cornmeal with a rare acoustic set. During the set, the band’s five members huddled around two mics at the front of the stage. Even Cornmeal drummer, JP Nowak, got in on the action, forgoing a drum kit for a wooden board on a guitar strap which he played with brush sticks.

The New Old Cavalry crammed into the corner of the front room to perform in between sets. This last minute idea made the transitions between bands easy and gave the whole night a nice seamless feel.

All credit should be given to Bloomington’s Herm Productions for this idea and for putting the entire night together.

Performing next was Travelin’ McCourys from Nashville Tennessee. Travelin’ McCourys feature the sons and band-mates of bluegrass legend Del McCoury. Ronnie (mandolin) and Rob (Banjo) McCoury lead the ban along with other members of The Del McCoury band.

The McCourys wrapped up their set by doing a few songs with the International Bluegrass Music Association’s fiddle player of the year, Michael Cleveland, who lives right here in Indiana.

Cornmeal came back on around one o’clock to do a traditional electric set. Cornmeal shook things up by being the first band of the night to use a drummer, as well as an electric banjo run through an effects pedal.

Out in the crowd, fans shook things up too. During Cornmeal’s set, fans were jumping and foot stompin’ and more than a few rock horns could be seen out in the crowd.

Cornmeal’s unique blend of bluegrass, rock and even psychedelic gave the crowd an electric jolt and the night its second wind.

Towards the end of Cornmeal’s set, the McCoury brothers joined Cornmeal on stage, offering a fitting climax to the night’s festivities. After Cornmeal and the McCourys wrapped things up, The New Old Cavalry closed down the night back up at the front of the bar.

  • Dweberiu1

    The evening sounded like one that should not have been missed. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend. However, the review and You Tube clip helped me appreciate all the effort that went into an excellent evening of musical pleasure.

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