by Charlie Hansen
After a couple of quiet months things are beginning to heat up in the music world down here in Zephyrhills. The city park is alive with music every Sunday and jams are being held in every nook and cranny of the town every day of the week.
We had the opportunity to make a trip down to Skippers Smokehouse on a cool evening to help the Spinney Brothers celebrate the launch of their new CD called Tried and True and take in some Americana and gypsy jazz from a local group called Gypsy Wind.
Gypsy Wind is made up of Kristen Holloway on flute and vocals, Michael Godwin on guitar and vocals, Mark Robertson-Tessi on mandolin and Rob Williams on bass. This group is extremely talented but wasn’t particularly well received by a crowd made up mainly of Maritimers waiting to see the Spinneys.
Much of Gypsy Wind’s material is original laced with a good smattering of familiar numbers rearranged to suit their instrumentation. Some are so rearranged that they are hardly recognizable. This doesn’t lessen the ability of the group but certainly does nothing for developing crowd appeal. On the night that we saw them, the great banjo player, Corey Walker sat in on a few numbers and added to the overall sound of the group. Corey was a replacement for Justin Moses with Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder and was a founding member of Sierra Hull and Highway 111 so he brings great credentials.
The Spinneys took the stage to present two hour long sets made up of traditional bluegrass along with songs from their new CD. The Spinney Brothers band is made up of Rick and Alan Spinney on banjo and guitar respectively, Gray Dalrymple on mandolin and, the newest member, Terry Poirier on bass and corny jokes. Gary has been a member of the group for twenty two years and Terry is just celebrating his first anniversary.
The group was well received by a, mainly, hometown crowd. The down home flavour of their stage show, which is very relaxed, puts everyone in a good frame of mind and makes the audience feel that they are all part of “it.”
The Spinneys told me that although being a full time bluegrass band and traveling extensively in the US and Canada, they find it difficult to operate within the one hundred and eighty three day limit as far as insurance and immigration policies is concerned. Too bad for the most prominent bluegrass group to ever come out of eastern Canada. The group left on a bluegrass cruise the day after their appearance at Skippers.
You can see the Spinney Brothers at the 30th annual PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music festival July 3, 4 and 5 at Rollo Bay.
Next month we’re off to Key West.
Until next time don’t forget to support live country and bluegrass music and listen to Bluegrass Island on Sundays at 9 pm on CFCY 95.1 FM in Charlottetown and on the internet at www.cfcy.fm