"How many of you like bluegrass music?" Stella Parton asked the crowd at Wold Trap's Country Music Festival Saturday night. "Well, I sure wish I knew some," she joked in response to the applause before letting her fiddler cut loose on "Muleskinner Blues."
Oddly enough, both the fiddle and the Jimmie Rodgers song sounded out of place, surrounded as they were by nearly five hours of what passes for country music in Nashville these days -- a pop song, a pedal steel guitar and a tear in your voice.
The show, which concluded the two-day event, was pleasant, polished and painfully predictable. Freddie Weller's set didn't differ substantially from those that followed by Jackie Ward, Stella Parton, Tommy Overstreet and the duo, Helen Cornelius and Jim Ed Brown. Each performer blended his hits with cover versions of pop tunes and added to the mix a bit of homespun humor.
Consequently, much of the material presented was written by pop soloists like Neil Diamond, Randy Van Warmer and Orleans. If that's country music, then Chuck Berry -- represented by no fewer than three songs in Weller's set alone -- should be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as soon as he is free to attend the ceremony.