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Banjo Boys at bluegrass festivalTell North Platte what you think
Photo by George Lauby
Sleepy Man Banjo Boys
Photo by George Lauby
Jonny Mizzone
Photo by George Lauby
Robbie Mizzone
Photo by George Lauby
High Plains Tradition
Photo by George Lauby
Joe Mullins, center
Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Spinney Brothers
Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Karl Shiflett and his Big Country Show
Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Remington Ryde
Photo by Kaycee Anderson
Dirty River Ramblers
Photo by George Lauby
Little Roy and Lizzie, center

Hand-clappin’, foot-stomping music highlighted the 13th Annual Bluegrass Festival at the Lincoln County Fairgrounds.

Paid attendence was the highest in the 13 years of the festival, organizers Don and Donna Mentzer said.

After a well-attended gospel music night Thursday, Karl Shiflett & his Big Country Show opened the festival Friday. Shiflett and Big Country are a lively, energetic band that stepped up to a retro radio microphone and kept the audience laughing with jokes and leg-kicking, hip-swaying moves while playing classic country and bluegrass.

Ralph and Barb Baker of North Platte were in the audience. The Bakers have been to all 13 festivals and said they loved them all. When asked what their favorite band was, they couldn't say. They also travel around the country to festivals.

Next, the Spinney Brothers of Nova Scotia played.

The Spinney Brothers play banjo, mandolin, guitar fiddle and bass. The band played a touching song called "Kyra" that left a few audience members shedding a tear or two. Then, after they askedg for audience participation in the next sing-along, they launched into the auctioneers song, much to the delight of the crowd.

Jim and Jane Tierney of North Platte, who have attended the last six festivals, came especially to see the Spinney Brothers.

Remington Ryde were up next with more good bluegrass music and, like the previous bands, they honored the memory of country music artist George Jones, who died early Saturday morning.

A Nebraska group -- the Dirty River Ramblers from Omaha -- were up next, playing top quality old-time traditional bluegrass music. The group won the showcase competition a year ago and returned this year as a featured act.

The afternoon ended with Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, the 2012 IBMA Emerging Artists of the Year. The band provided humor with soothing bluegrass and gospel music.

David Hora, a rancher who lives a mile south of Ringgold, managed to mix the festival in with his work. He spent Thursday afternoon at the sale barn in Broken Bow, where he purchased two truckloads of cattle and sent them to his ranch. After the sale, Hora drove to North Platte to enjoy the Thursday evening gospel music. He got back to the ranch at 4 a.m., fed his cattle, caught a little sleep and was back in North Platte by noon Friday, listening to more music. Hora said he has been to the festival every year. He said that his all-time favorite band was the Ozark Alliance.

The evening ended with the most anticipated band of the day -- the Sleepy Man Banjo Boys – who have appeared many times on national television.

The three brothers from New Jersey have gained national attention by playing top quality music at a young age. The crowd was mesmerized. The Mizzone brothers, 11–year-old, Johnny on the banjo, 14-year-old Robbie on fiddle and 15-year-old Tommy on the guitar, accompanied by mandolin and bass, were a sight to see.

They returned Saturday for two shows – one at 3 p.m. and again at 10 p.m.

On Saturday, a group from Omaha -- Up on the Hill -- won the $400 first place prize in the showcase competition for best emerging band. The Green Valley Homesteaders of Scottsbluff were second and a group from Ogallala and Gothenburg, the Platte Valley Skunkrunners, were third.

More nationally-known acts arrived on Saturday, including the Roys (Lee and Elaine), a brother and sister from New Brunswick, Canada, and Little Roy and Lizzie, an energetic five-piece band from Georgia.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 4/26/2013
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