Blues to the Point

‘Bama Band’ to headline
Carrollton’s blues festival

Rockin’ blues, country
add soul to this year’s lineup

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

CARROLLTON, Ky. (September 2009) – Whether backing up a big-name headliner or performing on their own, the Bama Band knows how to engage the crowd in a show-stopping performance. From rock-and-roll to country to blues, fans say this band exemplifies what top-notch musicians should sound like.
“The Bama Band loves Kentucky and has played all over the state for the last 25 years, on our own and with Hank Williams Jr.,” said Billy Earheart, keyboardist and member of Williams’ band since 1985. For more than 20 years, the Bama Band has been the touring band for Williams.

Blues to the Point Music Schedule

Friday, Sept. 11
Main Stage
5 p.m.: Little Joe McLerran
7:30 p.m.: Jimmy Davis Band
10 p.m.: The Stella Vees
Acoustic Stage
6:30 p.m.: The Brotherhood

Saturday, Sept. 12
Main Stage
2:30 p.m.: Will Owen-Gage
5 p.m.: Wayne Young’s Eric Clapton Tribute
7:30 p.m.: Gordon Bonham
10 p.m.: The Bama Band
Acoustic Stage
4 p.m.: Roy Gentry
6:30 p.m.: Lazy Eleven
9 p.m.: Little Joe McLerran

• Admission: $25 for a two-day pass; $10 for a camping permit; $15 for Friday only; $20 for Saturday only.
• Information: (502) 727-1050 or visit www.BluesToThePoint.net

The four-member band has played on many of Williams’ gold and platinum albums and appeared in many of his videos. In addition to Earheart, the Bama Band consists of Wayne “Animal” Turner, lead vocalist and guitarist; Ray Barrickman, bass guitar and vocals; and Bill Marshall, a long-time veteran musician.
“We always look forward to a chance at a cool festival in the beautiful bluegrass state,” said Earheart. He also plays with the Grammy-award winning Amazing Rhythm Aces.
The Bama Band will be the featured band closing out this year’s Blues to the Point festival, scheduled for Sept. 11-12. The band will take the stage at 10 p.m. Saturday. Friday’s festival hours begin at 5 p.m. with the last band taking the stage at 10 p.m. Saturdays’ hours begin at 2:30 p.m. with the last band taking the stage at 10 p.m.
This will be the first time the Bama Band has performed at Blues to the Point. The band has record four CDs, and Earheart describes their sound as a “rockin’ blues based country mixture.” Blues artists that have influenced the band include Elmore James, Robert Johnson, BB King, the Allman Brothers and Eric Clapton.
“After touring as the band for Bocephus for more than 20 years and having our own separate touring schedule, it’s pretty amazing that we’ve been able to stay together and continue to have fun and do what we love,” Earheart said. “Playing on the road with Hank Williams Jr. for all those years taught us that its gotta be a fun experience onstage, and we always have a ball.”
The Blues to the Point festival has been held annually since 1995.
“We still have a two-day event with 14 bands,” said festival co-producer Clayton Dermon. For the last four years Dermon has co-produced the event with Mark Davis. The festival was not held in 2005 because the producer at the time determined he was no longer able to carry on.
“Not wishing to see the demise of such a nice music festival, Clayton Dermon and I met with Carroll County Tourism in late 2006 and agreed that the festival was too much of an asset to lose,” said Davis.

The Bama Band

Photo provided

For more than 20 years, the Bama
Band has been the touring band
for country superstar Hank Williams
Jr. and will bring their own unique
sound to Blues to the Point.

When Carroll County Tourism decided it still wanted the festival, Dermon and Davis organized the 2006 festival in less than three months, said Dermon.
Carroll County Tourism has underwritten practically the entire cost of the festival since 2006, said Davis. The duo has found important media partners in the last couple of years but still need to find sponsorship to ensure the festival’s future.
Now that they are more established in their role as co-producers of the festival, Dermon and Davis continue to tweak the format each year. “We strive to make it an enjoyable weekend of fun and music for all ages,” Davis said. “The festival is an opportunity for locals and visitors to unwind, celebrate and enjoy good times and good music in beautiful surroundings.”
Location is the key to the continued success of Blues to the Point, according to Davis. “Point Park at the confluence of the Kentucky and Ohio Rivers is the first thing visitors’ mention,” he said. Also high on the list of positives is the laid-back, friendly atmosphere of the festival and community.
The addition of a second stage in 2006 has been hugely popular, said Davis. Constructed for solo-duo acoustic acts, the second stage “allows the festival to provide a generous variety of continuous live music throughout the festival.”
Festival-goers are from a geographically diverse area that includes a local crowd, Louisville, Cincinnati (Northern Kentucky) and southern Indiana. Quite a few music fans also attend from Cleveland, Ohio, Tennessee and West Virginia.
When it comes to Blues and Bluegrass music, “those folks are acclimated to going to festivals,” said Dermon. “Both are American roots music.”
Fellow music lover Davis said organizing the festival is a lot of work but also a lot of fun. While “meeting and working with musical and cultural icons like Leon Redbone, Russell Smith (The Amazing Rhythm Aces) and the incomparable Mussel Shoals Rhythm Section is a rush, it is equally gratifying to expose artists such as Tim Krekel, Tyrone Cotton, Ricky Nye, Phil Berkowitz and sonny Moorman to a wider audience who embrace them whole-heartedly.”
Both Dermon and Davis agree it was the late Tim Krekel who was instrumental in the success of the festival and remained a tremendous supporter. When they took over in 2006, they realized too late that all nationally know blues artists had been booked for months for other shows. Due to Krekel’s musical contacts the show was able to continue, making Krekel the impetus that re-launched Blues to the Point.
When it comes to choosing the band lineup, Dermon and Davis start by finding nationally known artists within their budget range, then select popular regionally known acts. They leave several open slots for local acts and late discoveries. “We try to strike a balance in music styles and the artist’s homebase,” said Davis.
As for the participating bands point of view, “We sure do look forward to seeing a bunch of old friends and meeting some new ones in Carrollton,” said Earheart.

Back to September 2009 Articles.



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