Great music at Blue Plum Festival from Guy Clark, Darrell Scott and others
The 2012 Blue Plum Festival in Johnson City, TN is now history. The three-day event saw thousands of people coursing through the downtown area – through vendors, artists, musicians and lots of great food.
The Saturday night musical fare on the Main Stage – located, appropriately, on Main St. – featured Malcolm Holcombe, Guy Clark with Verlon Thompson, and Darrell Scott & The Brothers.
All of these artists are at the pinnacle of the craft of songwriting – it was a treat to hear such unique and gifted songwriters in one place in one evening.
Holcombe served as a fine intro. His gruff voice and exquisite songwriting were on ample display.
Next up was Mr. Clark (no relation) with Verlon Thompson, who may be the lesser-known of the two but is certainly not of lesser quality, as his short set within the show amply affirms. “The Guitar” in particular, a spine-tingling tune of predestination, was a standout.
Guy Clark is a legend. No mistaking that fact. Though the years, hard life, and cigarettes have taken a toll on his stamina and his voice, his performance is actually not diminished but is somehow even more appealingly weathered and his songs seem even more personal. In a year in which we’ve lost several legends of music, it is comforting to see Guy Clark is able to continue to share his craft with grateful audiences. Long may he continue to do so.
And a shared experience it was – from sing-alongs on “Home Grown Tomatoes” and “Let It Roll” to the joy of discovering new tunes Clark allowed us to hear for the first time, the audience was made to feel a part of the show.
Darrell Scott and his brothers were given a hard task in following Clark and Thompson, but they proved up to it. The brothers were amazing compliments to Darrell. Their names sadly escaped this scribe – they all begin with ‘D’ – but their performances did not escape anyone’s notice. All of them took turns leading the charge through the evening.
For his part, Darrell took on most of the leadership chores and, of course, he’s the main provider of truly classic songs.
“Long Time Gone” kicked things off, and the show rightfully included “River Take Me” and “You’ll Never Leave Harlan Alive.” An impromptu performance of “Folsom Prison Blues” was kicked off by the roaring of a train (the stage is placed beside active tracks, a nod to Johnson City’s railroading past); the show was visited by three in all during Scott’s set.
Many of the tunes Scott and Co. performed became opportunities for a merging of voices – especially on “Harlan” and the closing tune, “Will the Circle Be Unbroken,” which is always a chance for many voices to rise in unison (or harmony).
This proved to be a fine evening under the sun and stars. Kudos to Blue Plum for 2012 and folks are eagerlylooking forward to more in the future!