The ROMP Fest veterans returned to Owensboro Friday night. Both Del McCoury and David “Dawg” Grisham have had a long history with the bluegrass festival, and bluegrass as a genre. They are considered legends in that craft, and the notion of them playing together for the Owensboro crowd was enough to excite anyone with any invested interest in that history.
The day had been marred by lots of setbacks due to the rain. Although, following The Fairfield Four and McCrary Sisters, the night sky seemed to open just in time for the stars of the night to shine on the stars of the ROMP Festival stage.
However, it just wasn’t the case. Everything was calm just until McCoury and Grisham arrived on stage when moments later I heard a defiant, “Welp, there’s the rain again.” This rain was not the downpour that had been striking Owensboro sporadically throughout the day, but I believe it was the nail in the coffin for me. It was hard to maintain my level of excitement when the nice weather couldn’t stay put long enough for the headliners to do their thing.
Weather aside, Del & Dawg did perform one great show. Their harmonizing country tunes clearly grabbed the audience. ROMP Festival is held in a large open field of Yellow Creek Park, where many attendees set up lawn chairs and enjoy music from afar during the stage. It’s not the type of festival where you clamor for a spot in a crowded audience close to the stage. That is, until Del & Dawg arrive. Even through the rain, the audience rose from their seats and greeted the headliners with enthusiasm. The crowd was not shoulder to shoulder, but everyone was excited and present for the familiar faces.
Part of what made Del & Dawg so good together was their history and knowledge with music. Between songs, they would share antidotes from their long-spanning musical careers that could intrigue fans that weren’t already familiar. It helped establish that connection with the audience, and suddenly, the biggest show of the evening felt like a front porch conversation while pickin’.
Del & Dawg’s enthusiasm and talent shined all night long through the sprinkling rain, which no one seemed to mind so much anymore. They brought a little bit of happiness to a day that had seen a variety of inclement weather, so the audience couldn’t be in more debt to Del & Dawg for their contributions. It was their performance that truly saved the day in the end.