Helluva Hootenanny

Growling geezers, East Coast fiddlers and the famous voice borrowed by George Clooney.

Dan Tyminski: the voice that came out of George Clooney's mouth
Dan Tyminski: the voice that came out of George Clooney's mouth

Bluegrass is the coolest, most genuine all-American real alternative music out there. No tape loops or fake synth noises.

Nothing dreamed up by some tone-deaf ad-man-turned-record-exec trying to get rich by guessing who will be the next Lady Gaga. It’s all heart and roots and soul, real musicianship to rip your face off and singing that could break your heart. And so, in no particular order, I give you the best reasons for you get off your ass and drive out to Medical Lake this weekend.

Local and regional bluegrass bands you probably don’t know how sorry you are that you’ve been missing. For sure don’t miss David Keenan’s (of Downtown Mountain Boys) vintage wardrobe, stunning up-do and banjo work, the spine-tingling duet singing of husband-wife team Kelly Bogan and Dannie Lynn (of Molly and Tenbrooks), or the mind-blowing talent of New Mexico’s youngest old-sounding bluesman/slide guitarist and old-timey banjo stylist, Cahalen Morrison.

The Growling Old Men For one thing they’re not that old and pretty much never growl. Maybe you caught them a few years ago on Prairie Home Companion. If not, get your first taste of this Montana-based bluegrass power-duo at Blue Waters. Chill, Montana-style bluegrass: big tone and wide-open spaces.

Della Mae Hot new all-girl band from Boston featuring hometown girl — and national fiddle champ — Kimber Ludiker. They have a fresh, high-energy style of playing and wicked-good harmony singing.

Martha Scanlan Flat-out the most accomplished songwriter on the festival billing, and the only one to have penned a song which inspired no less than novelist Joyce Carol Oates … and provided Oates the title for her latest novel, Little Bird of Heaven. That’s some songwriting! An old-timey vibe, relaxed and groovy.

Dan Tyminski You may not know that you’ve heard him, but if you saw the Coen Brother’s O Brother Where Art Thou, you have. Every time George Clooney opens his mouth to sing, that’s Dan. But that’s not all — Dan Tyminski is also a member of Alison Kraus’s Grammy-winning super group, Union Station. He’s a terrific presence onstage — affable, genuine — and one of the finest at everything he does. And yes, you can pretty much count on it: He’ll sing the Clooney hit, “Man of Constant Sorrow.” It was a great song before the movie and no one sings it better than Dan Tyminski.

If Dan Tyminski isn’t reason enough to check out the Dan Tyminski Band, then go to see the most bad-ass banjo player of his generation, Ron Stewart (no relation to ROD Stewart).

It doesn’t get better.

What’s more, Ron Stewart is also positively one of the most shredding fiddle players alive. Good chance he’ll get to fiddle one or two Saturday night. Don’t miss that.

Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival takes place on Friday, Aug. 6, from 4 – 9 pm, Saturday, Aug. 7, from 11 am – 9:30 pm and Sunday, Aug. 8, from 11 am – 5 pm. Tickets: $10 - $40. Visit bluewatersbluegrass.org or email info@bluewatersbluegrass.org.

Smokey Robinson @ Northern Quest Resort & Casino

Sat., July 24, 7:30 p.m.
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About The Author

Greg Spatz

Greg Spatz teaches in the MFA program at the Inland Northwest Center for Writers, Eastern Washington University. He also plays fiddle with the bluegrass outfits the Jaybirds and Mighty Squirrel.