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Industrial Strength Bluegrass Spring Festival 2023


The weekend of March 16-18th has ended just like that. As there may have been a lot of frowns seen due to March Madness brackets being blown, there were definitely a lot of smiles walking around the Roberts Centre in Wilmington, Ohio. Thank you, artists, for providing all of us with the great music therapy. Ha-ha! As my first time at the spring Industrial Strength Festival all the familiar sights, sounds and smells from the fall shows came rushing back. It was great to be in the company of bluegrass friends!

First and foremost, I want to personally congratulate EVERYONE at The Industrial Strength Festival for winning the 2022 IBMA Bluegrass Event of the Year (Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers, family, bands, volunteers, vendors, workers at the Roberts Centre, fans and so many more). To see and feel the happiness that all festival-goers shows exactly the reason that The Industrial Strength Festival is one of the best. Thank You Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers for putting on the awesome festival and Thank You fans for making the festival!

Now, let’s dive into the festival venders, bands and everything else. Throughout the entire weekend we were able to visit with all the venders. Please see the list of the wonderful venders below that provided us with more information on a specific topic, beautiful handmade jewelry, handmade crafts, instruments, capos, apparel, snacks and so much more!

As I have mentioned before, I am newer to the whole bluegrass scene and have even been named the ‘Bluegrass Virgin’. Ha-ha! With the love for music, country music at that, I took that as a challenge and have been trying to learn as much as I can about bluegrass. So, what better way to learn about the bands out there than to see them live when they are near. When I saw the line-up for this festival, I was in AWWWW – the line-up of bands was awesome!

Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers opened the festival and entertained us each day of the festival. As always, Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers gave us great insight into the history of how bluegrass was created and spread throughout southwestern Ohio. They covered all the favorites of their fans along with sharing some of their music that was just released! Always a great show to see!

Next up was the multi-award-winning Dale Ann Bradley! I saw Dale Ann Bradley for the first-time last year and I couldn’t wait to see her again. I absolutely love her voice. Her new song ‘Love Train’ has definitely been downloaded and played a few times, honestly, a lot!

To close out Thursday, I was able to see a band that I not only haven’t seen but had not even heard of. The Malpass Brothers were definitely a slam dunk! They played a wide range of music along with giving us many laughs in between songs, even during songs. The Malpass Brothers certainly showed me the true “retro-billy” style of music! It is a show that I would see again, for sure.

After a great Thursday, I could not wait to get back to The Industrial Strength festival! Starting the Friday was a guitar workshop with Adam McIntosh (guitarist and vocalist of Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers) and Friends (Jesse Smathers and Chris Davis). I didn’t catch the whole workshop, but I did see a lot of people that were soaking it all in. I know, I would have been able to catch it, but I got side-tracked tasting the awesome snacks at Lisa’s Pretzels and Country Manor Mixes booths. There were just too many good flavors to try!

If you could judge a day by the first act, the day was going to be fantastic! The first band for Friday was a band from Kentucky that has been taking the bluegrass scene by storm. Kentucky Just Us gave a show filled with great music and entertainment. It was amazing to find out that they have just been doing this for around eight years. Wow!

Seth Mulder & Midnight Run is a band that I have seen a couple times and love catching. I was excited to see them this time because of a few changes within the band. You couldn’t even tell there were any changes, they sounded great and left me energized! Love ‘My, My, My’!

Like Seth Mulder & Midnight Run, I have seen Sister Sadie a couple times and hope the time in between shows is short. Sister Sadie to me is a powerhouse of women artists! Although there have been recent changes to their band members, they still rocked the house! It was awesome to hear their new releases along with their other known hits.

What band could you round off the great line-up for Friday, of course, The Lonesome River Band. The Lonesome River Band gave a performance that we all look forward to and pleased us all with performing ‘Heyday’!

If fans did not get enough picking throughout the day or they felt the need to jam, the Paige Capo booth provided that chance during a Jam Session with Joe Mullins. Then, if that wasn’t enough, all the fans joined The Midnight Run guys for the Midnight Jam sponsored by SamJam.

The second day of The Industrial Strength festival was excellent and everything I thought it would be! On top of enjoying all the top-notch artists and venders, I got the chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones to see again later on at other festivals. One of my favorite people to catch at The Industrial Strength festival is the one and only Christy Mullins Jones – always open arms and big smile!

As the last day of the festival came, so were the first round of the NCAA brackets. Is your team still in it? Mine is but starting to double guess like I do every year. I was excited to see more bands that I have not yet seen and first up was Classy & Grassy. Oh my GOSH, this band, in my opinion, thoroughly impressed me in more than one area. This band did not have one member older the age of 18 yrs old – I mean, the front person was not even old enough to drive! What were you doing at the young age of 13? Speaking for myself, I definitely was not on a stage performing in front of tons of people – shoot, I still can’t play a guitar. For as young as they were, they had an older soul than a lot of us did in the audience. Classy & Grassy brought life back from the classic country artist as well as the traditional bluegrass whom most of us have grown up with. Not only were they great with the music, they stole the hearts of the audience. Their connection with the crowd was spot on, I mean heck, they even got tips handed to them while on stage. Ha-ha.

Our busy Saturday continued by being interviewed by Pluck It Music Brand. While getting set up for the interview and talking with other fans, The Clay Hess Band was playing on stage. Clay Hess is an Ohio native and has played for some big names. The Clay Hess Band sounded great and filled the air with great vocals and bluegrass music. The interview began and Michelle Lee did her thing – talking about her shows Smoked Country Jam and Bluegrass Borderline, sharing info about heading to her website to stay up to date with the Artist Spotlight, Album Release Spotlight, Marsha’s 2 notes page and etc. As you can imagine, I only got a couple words in but I let her do her thing – she’s good at it.

Laughing so hard with Classy & Grassy and working hard on the interview, my body was telling me it was lunch time. During our lunch we had a great visit with a well-known writer Mark BonDurant that is also an Ohio native. One of the biggest songs Mark wrote was ‘Bacon in My Beans’ for Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers which was sung during The Industrial Strength festival. Have you heard it? It is a song that I totally agree with – I must have bacon in my beans.

After lunch we visited some more booths and got ready to read at the Dolly Parton Imagination Library booth. The few girls that came to be read to choose two books – one about kindergarten and the other one was the favorite ‘The Little Engine That Could’. It is a honor participating in such a known and necessary program for our young kids today.

As the time for us to leave came closer, we were able to catch a couple songs of the IBMA 2022 Momentum Band of the Year Full Cord. Full Cord brings a new sound to the bluegrass music but keeping some great picking.

Leaving the festival brought another end to a great festival full of music, meeting new friends, catching up with old friends, and filling my heart with much needed music therapy. As many fans were still there, they continued enjoying the sounds of great artists. Jerry Douglas presents The Earls of Leicester rounded out the festival with their traditional bluegrass songs. Sharing the spirit of Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs at The Industrial Strength was a magical time.

If you missed the March Industrial Strength festival, you can start planning now to attend the November Industrial Strength festival! Pre-sale for tickets begin June 1st at 10am – use code “TIME23” on You don’t want to miss the great artists they have on the line-up!

Thank you to everyone that has ANYTHING to do with The Industrial Strength Bluegrass Festival because it is all noticed and appreciated! Thank you to all the artists that fill the room with such great music and for all the hard work and time you put in to entertain us all!

And as Michelle Lee says, “Until next time, I thank You”