I attend a lot of bluegrass festivals over much of the country, so I get to see a lot of talented local bands, some better than others. Once in a while, there is a band, a band that stands out above the rest. Maybe it is the lead guitar, or melodic mandolin or a dynamic fiddle. Maybe it is the comedic stage antics. Bluegrass enthusiasts come in many forms, young and old alike, some like the tradional bluegrass in the tradition of Bill Monroe, or Ralph Stanley, or The Osborne Brothers. For others it is the new bluegrass, more driving, sometimes blues-like sounds, like Cadillac Sky, The Infamous Stringdusters, Balsam Range or The Steeldrivers.
So here I am recently at one of our longest running midwest bluegrass festivals, Dixon MO. This festival, with bluegrass roots over 40 years running, consistently features local and regional talent from around the midwest. It was here that I had an opportunity to see that rare gem of a band that just grabs your attention and reminds me of why I love this style of music. Sitting in as a guest spot with another local favorite (Honey Creek) are a group of musicians from the southwest MO area going by the name of Hwy 64. Hwy 64 is comprised of Velinda Roberts on fiddle, her 2 daughters, Cheri Volko (banjo) and Joanna Roberts (mandolin), and Derek Potter on guitar. What eminated from the stage was some of the most beautiful harmonies and vocals that I have heard in some time (Dailey and Vincent struck me in a similiar way). God has truly blessed them with the ability to sing. They only sang a few numbers, but that was enough to peak my interest. Luckily I was walking around with camera in hand and was able to grab a few pictures of them while they were on stage.
I got a chance later in the day to pick with and hear more of this family, and let me tell you, they are some of the most genuine, down to earth people I have ever met. I felt like I hade known tem all of my life and was treated as such. We jammed until 6am, watching the sun come up the next morning. Do not underestimate this band, what they lack in experience, they sure make up for in enthusiasm. We played everything from soft melodies, bluegrass heartbreak songs, to hard driving, Ricky Skaggs style instrumentals. I did not want this jam session to end, wishing it could go on all day (as I am wring this several weeks later, I can still vividly remember the beautiful harmony that I heard that night).
So, if you are browsing the festival schedules, and happen to see Hwy 64 mentioned on the schedule, do not miss it, they will touch your heart and sole with beautiful bluegrass and gospel music. At the time of this writing, they have not yet recorded a project, but I hope that that changes soon. As soon as something is available, you can bet it will be listed here on the new release page. I cannot wait to get another opportunity to see this band and wish them the best of luck in their musical endeavor.