By Matt Wickstrom
IRVINE – With an elevated musical lineup and slight cooperation from Mother Nature, the fourth annual Moonshiner’s Ball was a hit. The new venue, Jenkins Farm in Irvine, provided a more open landscape to navigate, and while rain did dampen the grounds, festival staff did a fantastic job working around the curveballs. While the ground was damp, the spirits of those dancing atop it were anything but.
Unlike years past, the rain couldn’t put a damper on the event. Travis Young and the Blind Corn Liquor Pickers, the host band, and everyone who works behind the scenes with the Moonshiner’s Ball have a keen eye for musical talent and plucking artists just as they’re breaking into the mainstream, and 2017 was no exception. Stealing the show on Saturday were Blackfoot Gypsies, Jon Stickley Trio, Johnny Conqueroo, Aaron Lee Tasjan and Con Brio.
Nashville’s Blackfoot Gypsies, a four piece with roots in old-school blues and rock ’n’ roll, took to the festival’s tent stage shortly after 1 p.m. The group has an incredible energy in its live performance, led by front man and guitarist Matthew Paige with his karate-kicking onstage antics. The group’s entire set consisted of songs off its new record “To the Top”, including hits “I Had A Vision,” “Lying Through Your Teeth” and “Promise to Keep,” a tune with lyrical references to Kentucky that Paige said is about the band’s journey, trials and tribulations, much of which have occurred in the Bluegrass. The Gypsies last performed in Lexington at The Burl in February.