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Nine musicians/bands to play at Arts in the Middle

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“Josh Grigsby & County Line” will perform from 10 a.m.-noon on Sunday, June 5, at the Arts in the Middle fine art festival at Hewick Plantation near Urbanna.

Visitors to the Arts in the Middle (AIM) fine art festival, to be held at historic Hewick Plantation near Urbanna on Saturday and Sunday, June 4-5, will be entertained by a variety of music from country and bluegrass to hard rock and folk. The tree-lined drive filled with artists’ tents will resonate with music from each end of the long-shaded lane. “Some of the musicians will be familiar to many local residents; others probably new,” said popular local musician Clayton Neal of Saluda, who selected the lineup and will play.

Neal is a vocalist, guitarist, harmonica player, and founding member of “Jumbo Lump Daddy and the Backfin Boys,” a group that has been voted the best local musicians by the readers of Pleasant Living magazine for eight years in a row. As a soloist, Neal is known for special shows around Middlesex and the Northern Neck and shares his “rivahdacious” style of music with audiences throughout Virginia, North Carolina, and Maryland.

Known to those attending Christ Church Parish concerts in Middlesex and other area events is a beautiful and sweet-voiced singer and guitarist, Paige Melton. Her offerings include Woodstock generation melodies made popular by Joan Baez, Judy Collins, Neil Young, Janis Joplin and Joni Mitchell.

Jeff Wagner of Richmond is a mandolin player and guitarist who performs acoustic Americana music both as a soloist and with his wife Sherry. His music is a blend of modern folk, classic country, bluegrass and roots material with guitar. He has enjoyed entertaining audiences as a soloist and in bands for over 20 years in the greater Richmond area. Wagner recently completed his second CD of original songs.

The “Monument City Jazz Trio” is a sophisticated Richmond group of seasoned musicians  who have performed with many local and regional bands. Their love of jazz pulls them together to keep many jazz classics alive. The trio includes Ken Kellner on upright bass, Dan Grubb on drums, and Randy Melton on piano.

The “Something Different” duo (not connected with the Urbanna restaurant of the same name), well known to those familiar with events at Arts on Main in Gloucester, will offer a variety of musical genres ranging from a capella singing to synthesizer numbers. The pair takes its name from their method of adding wide variety to their performances.

On the big stage will be “Josh Grigsby & County Line,” which was awarded the 2015 Bluegrass Band of Virginia championship by the Virginia Folk Music Association (VFMA). The band also was the winner of the 2014 band competition at the Bluegrass by the Bay Festival in Gloucester. Band members are Crystal Grigsby (vocals), Chris Westcott (guitar, vocals), Frankie Ballowe (mandolin, vocals), Robert Kidd (bass), “Judge” Parker (banjo, vocals), and Josh Grigsby on guitar and lead vocals. Grigsby also was voted first place for male vocals by VFMA while fellow band members Chris Westcott and Judge Parker took second and third places vocals.

Returning are “Herbie D and the Dangermen” who rocked a pre-show AIM event last year. The group has a swampy blend of Appalachian Acoustic Americana and New Orleans Style Jump Blues taken from the hills to the Juke Joint. Winners of the 2013 River City Blues Society Blues Challenge in Richmond and competitors in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2014, Herbie D delivers a unique sound created by the inclusion of an upright bass, swapping out an electric guitar in favor of an acoustic, and by replacing the traditional harmonica with a saxophone. Greg Willard, coordinator of the River City Blues Society Blues Competition, said, “They are inventive and have a good, cohesive sound.”

Providing more beat and heat will be “Itchy Dog,” a 3-piece, “hard- rockin’ soul-shakin’ classic rock & blues” band handling classic and hard rock, and soul music. Itchy Dog combines a mix of carefully selected covers along with their own original material featuring Joe Merolli on guitar, Jimmy Gallon on bass, and Art DeMario on drums. “It’s music we love and have just as much fun playing, as do the people we play for,” said Merolli.

Bluegrass lovers will tune into the “Honeywind Bluegrass Boys” who are based in Gloucester and have been playing together for a dozen years.  Their performances celebrate the golden age of bluegrass and the classic country tunes from the Hank Williams era. They have shared their music at a variety of venues throughout coastal Virginia, Maryland, and North Carolina.

The free Arts in the Middle show featuring over 100 juried artists of all types will be from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on Saturday, June 4, and from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Sunday, June 5. In addition to on-site parking, there will be shuttle service to nearby downtown Urbanna. Tents and oak trees will provide visitors with shade and seating. There will be food and drink concessions. For more details, visit http://www.artsinthemiddle.com.

posted 05.25.2016

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