SERFA 24 (part 2)

Performance Highlights

As I mentioned earlier, the Official Showcases at these conferences are generally really good and SERFA 24 was no exception. A couple highlights from this year were Sue Horowitz who did a killer “high school reunion song” and Chris Haddox, who found and shared an incredible coal mining song, written by an African American man. A young fellow from the deep south, Dustin Gaspard not only had just tremendous on-stage energy but was a simply great guitar player.

Perhaps my favorite was Helene Cronin. She is a professional songwriter who has been commuting from Dallas to Nashville for decades. Other standouts for me were Wes Collins, Cast Iron Bluegrass, Ruth, and Max Bloomquist, Couldn’t Be Happier, and Ordinary Elephant, and that is not to say the other performers were not remarkable, they were.

I played the conference “maximum” of three private showcases, so I had plenty of opportunities to check out other performers. And I caught some folks who are consistently great, like Wyatt Easterling, Ash Devine, and RB Stone, and some folks that I knew were good but had never been able to hear in person, like Friction Farm, Rod and Annie Capps, Mattew Sabatella, and Brant Miller. It was a delight to take them in. Some “new” performers for me were Pat Wictor, Randy Palmer, and Emma Francis. Pat is a great slide guitarist, with really good songs and a remarkable tone and touch. I have heard Randy play with his buddy, the other Randy (Lewis Brown), but never by himself, and the delight of the conference was hearing Emma Francis and Ma Crow.

 Emma’s mom is Erin Ash Sullivan, who happens to be a wonderful song writer and singer, and the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. Emma was simply great. Ma Crow is an incredible bluegrass performer who predominately works in the greater Cincinnati area. We got to spend a little time talking and realized that we had several friends in common.   

I regret missing Karyn Oliver, Claudia Gibson, and Carolann Solebello. I have heard of these three ladies before and they are fantastic solo artists. Ah, next time I suppose.

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