Check out the 2017 Line-up! Follow our Newsletter for updates.
The Del McCoury Band
Born in York County, PA seventy years ago, Del McCoury would once have seemed an unlikely candidate for legendary status. Bitten hard by the bluegrass bug when he heard Earl Scruggs’ banjo in the early 50s-“everybody else was crazy about Elvis, but I loved Earl,” he says with a chuckle-McCoury became a banjo picker himself, working in the rough but lively Baltimore and D.C. bar scene into the early 1960s. He got his first taste of the limelight when he joined Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys in early 1963; the Father of Bluegrass moved McCoury from the banjo to guitar, made him his lead singer, and gave him a lifetime’s worth of bluegrass tutelage direct from the source in the course of little more than a year. But rather than parlay his gig with the master into a full-time career of his own, he returned to Pennsylvania in the mid-60s to provide steady support for his new and growing family.
For over forty years, the five-time Grammy winning multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter, photographer and historian has been building a rich legacy at this very crossroads. On his latest release with his band The Fabulous Superlatives, the double-disc Saturday Night & Sunday Morning, Stuart captures all the authentic neon and stained-glass hues of country music – from love and sex to heartache and hardship to family and God – in twenty-three tracks. “I’ve always thought that country music had a really unique relationship with gospel music,” Stuart says. “It is interesting to me that country stars can sing drinking and cheating songs authentically, then at some point during the evening or the broadcast, take their hats off and say, ‘Friends, here’s our gospel song.’ If it’s the right messenger it seamlessly flows. That’s a time-honored tradition, from Jimmie Rodgers to Hank Williams to Johnny Cash. Rogue prophets and rogue preachers. That is my world.
Keller Williams has been a favorite of the jam-band circuit for well more than a decade. With a highly rhythmic playing style, Williams delivers some of the most danceable, high-energy acoustic music out there. Definition: ADM (Acoustic Dance Music), solo acoustic guitar and voice with every other song walking the line of electronica. If you need a title to file under try electro-hippie acoustic downtempo.“What kind of definition is that? It’s the kind of definition that will take you actually going to a show to decide for yourself and put it to your own words. This element of my life is what I refer to as my day job. Which is essentially me finding new ways to entertain myself on stage in front of an audience. Using technology and a technique, described by Dr. Didg, as live phrase sampling or looping, I am able to entertain myself for two sets. Nothing is prerecorded and all sounds and beats are created live by layering loops on top of one another and then singing or soloing over top if all if it.
The Quebe Sisters
When the Quebe Sisters from Texas take a stage, and the triple-threat fiddle champions start playing and singing in multi-part close harmony, audiences are usually transfixed, then blown away. It’s partly because the trio’s vocal and instrumental performances are authentic all-Americana, all the time, respectful of the artists that inspired them the most. And whether the Quebes (rhymes with “maybe”) are decked out in denims and boots or fashionably dressed to the nines in makeup, skirts and heels, the fresh-faced, clean-cut sisters, all in their 20s, look as good as they sound.
Over 40 years since they began playing together at weekly jam sessions in Ben Eldridge’s Bethesda, Maryland basement, The Seldom Scene have become one of the single greatest contributors to the progression of bluegrass while setting a new standard and attracting new audiences to the genre. Their legendary weekly DC-area residencies included bluegrass versions of country music, rock, and even classical pop. The band’s popularity soon forced them to play more than once a week—but they continued to maintain their image as being seldom seen, and on several of their early album covers were photographed with the stage lights on only their feet, or with their backs to the camera. The Seldom Scene have performed at the White House many times, and continue to tour year-round.The Seldom Scene are founding member Ben Eldridge (banjo), Lou Reid (mandolin/vocals), Dudley Connell (guitar/vocals), Ronnie Simpkins (bass/vocals), and Fred Travers (dobro/vocals). The album was produced by three-time GRAMMY award-winning Smithsonian Folkways Sound Production Supervisor Pete Reiniger.
The Dead South
They wear white shirts and black suspenders, black pants and travellers’ hats. They sing about murderous, estranged spouses and runaway lover cousins in a boot-stomping acoustic configuration that includes banjo, mandolin, cello and guitar, some whistles, hoots and hollerin’, and finger snappin’. Sometimes their fans dress up like them too and dance and sing the night away – but that’s not mandatory.
The Dead South are fun, modern hillbillies from Regina, Saskatchewan (that’s in Canada btw), who can make you forget your troubles and even what century you’re in.
But the band isn’t just about style and good looks. Their full-length album, Good Company (released on Curve/eOne), is full of rousing bluegrass kickers that challenge you not to smile or do a little jig, or, heck, even head-bang. They’ve played them all over Europe and the U.K. multiple times, as well as Canada and into the U.S., enthralling fans who just can’t get enough.
Danny Barnes Trio
Danny Barnes, the roots music legend and recent winner of Steve Martins Prize for Excellence in Banjo, is teaming up with two young creative voices of the acoustic world: mandolinist Joe K. Walsh and guitarist Grant Gordy. This new trio draws on a wide array of influences, its members collectively keeping feet in the rock, bluegrass, jazz, avant garde and electronic worlds.
Barnes output as a soloist and a master collaborator with the likes of Bill Frisell, Dave Matthews, the Bad Livers and countless others has cemented his standing as one of the open secret greats of American music.
Joe K. Walsh has been hailed as one of the best mandolinists of his generation by the CBC and has toured extensively with bluegrass royalty such as Darol Anger, the Gibson Brothers, and Scott Nygaard. He has played the Caffe previously as a founding member of acclaimed Boston band Joy Kills Sorrow, as well as with the Gibson Brothers.
Guitarist Grant Gordy spent 6 years touring with the progressive David Grisman Quintet and his playing, according to Just Jazz Guitar magazine, rewrites the book on crossover bluegrass/jazz/flatpicking guitar. He has performed all over North America and Europe, everywhere from Carnegie Hall to Montreal Jazz Festival; Jazz at Lincoln Center to Bonnaroo. To put it mildly, a sold out show is anticipated so please don’t wait until the last minute to buy your tickets!
A virtuoso multi-instrumentalist and award winning songwriter with a distinctive voice, Molly has turned the heads of even the most seasoned industry professionals. She began performing on stage when she was 11, and recorded her first album, The Old Apple Tree, at age 13. Since then, she’s appeared on A Prairie Home Companion and at Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, was featured on the cover of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine, won first place in the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at Merlefest, and, last May, graduated from the Berklee College of Music, which she attended on a Hazel Dickens Memorial Scholarship. Her lovely voice, impeccable guitar playing, and sensitive song writing make her a star on the rise. She has already received more than two million YouTube views and has recently released two EP’s with The Goodbye Girls and as a duo with John Mailander. She now makes her home in Nashville and spends time touring, writing and recording.
The Bumper Jacksons
The Bumper Jacksons are hot and sweet, painting America’s story from the streets of New Orleans to Appalachian hollers. Unafraid to scrap together new sounds from forgotten 78’s, the Bumper Jacksons boldly and elegantly balance paying homage to the traditions while fashioning their own unique, DIY style. Honored as the region’s 2015 “Artist of the Year” and “Best Folk Band” from 2013-2015 at the Washington Area Music Awards, the Bumper Jacksons are playfully creative with their originals and re-imagining roots music with both power and tenderness. Bursting at the seams with some of the richest threads of old America, Bumper Jacksons bring you into the center of a party where everyone’s invited and the dance floor never sleeps.
This West Coast outfit was a loose collection of musical misfits until 2012 and 2013 when Front Country gathered around a single microphone at the RockyGrass and Telluride festivals, and won first prize in those prestigious band contests that once launched the careers of the Dixie Chicks, Greensky Bluegrass and the Steep Canyon Rangers. The contest wins bolstered their confidence in their unique mix of original songwriting, vocal harmonies and instrumental virtuosity, steeling their resolve to take a leap of faith and become a full time touring band.
Furnace Mountain Band
Furnace Mountain Though often overshadowed by Southwest Virginia and its famed Crooked Road, the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia’s northwestern counties have always been fertile ground for traditional music, and they continue to be home to many of its finest practitioners. The region is situated between the Appalachian hills of West Virginia and the culturally diverse and ever-changing Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and is known for producing musicians who transcend generic categories, deftly taking traditional music styles in new directions. Furnace Mountain, named for a mountain near where all the members grew up, consists of some of the most innovative and gifted young musicians in Virginia. With Aimee Curl on bass and vocals, Danny Knicely on mandolin and fiddle, Dave Van Deventer on fiddle, and Morgan Morrison on guitar, bouzouki, and vocals. Furnacemountain.com.
For more than five decades, The Ingramettes have been bringing their music and ministry to congregations in the Tidewater and Piedmont. Their commanding, spirit-filled performances demonstrate the extraordinary depth of talent in American gospel music. The group is one of Virginia’s premier gospel ensembles. Brought to you by the Virginia Folklife.
Mile Twelve is a fresh, hard driving young band beautifully walking the line between original and traditional bluegrass. Fast gaining recognition for their outstanding performances in bluegrass and folk circles, Evan Murphy, Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, Nate Sabat, BB Bowness and David Benedict write captivating songs and daring instrumental pieces from diverse influences. Banjo luminary Tony Trischka says, “Mile Twelve is carrying the bluegrass tradition forward with creativity and integrity.”
Ken & Brad Kolodner Quartet feat. Rachel Eddy
The dynamic father-son duo Ken & Brad Kolodner weave together a captivating soundscape on hammered dulcimer, banjo and fiddles pushing the boundaries of the Old-Time tradition into uncharted territory. Regarded as one of the most influential hammered dulcimer players and Old-Time fiddlers in North America, Baltimore’s Ken Kolodner has joined forces with his son Brad Kolodner, a rising star in the clawhammer banjo world. Together, they infuse their own brand of driving, innovative, tasteful and unique interpretations of traditional and original fiddle tunes and songs. They perform with a “creative curiosity that lets all listeners know that a passion for traditional music yet thrives in every generation.” In concert, they’re joined by bassist Alex Lacquement (Bumper Jacksons, Charm City Junction) who locks everything together with his commanding yet tasteful choices and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Eddy (Early Mays, Uncle Earl), who brings an infectious passion and energy to the group.
Megan Downes and the City Stompers
Megan Downes, a world-class percussive dancer, has been joining the Furnace Mountain Band to set dancing to their driving fiddle tunes since 2005. Megan Downes teaches dance to Southern Appalachian fiddle music at New York City’s only clogging school. more info at City Stompers.
“The Woodshedders bring the influence of vintage American music forward in its songwriting. The band is known for fun, danceable shows that swerve between different genres to create exciting original sounds.” The lineup includes Dwayne Brooke on guitar and vocals, Ryan Mayo on upright bass and piano, Jared Pool on guitar and mandolin, Jesse Shultzaberger on drums, and Dave Van Deventer on fiddle.
The Cabin Creek Boys
The Cabin Creek Boys play old-time hillbilly music from the mountains of southwest Virginia and northwest North Carolina, performing at area fiddlers’ conventions, festivals, square dances, and other community events. Led by multi-instrumentalist husband and wife duo Chris and Erika Testerman of Lansing, North Carolina, the band also includes Jackson Cunningham of Grant, Virginia, on guitar; Trish Kilby Fore of Galax, Virginia, on clawhammer banjo; and Jerry Steinberg of Salem, Virginia, on bass.
Johnny and Jeanette Williams
Johnny Williams grew up in Fries, Virginia, a small community nestled alongside the New River in Grayson County. Grayson County has long been steeped in bluegrass and old-time music, and Johnny soaked up the musical culture around him at fiddler’s conventions, local performances, and jam sessions. Eventually Johnny moved with his family to Danville, on Virginia’s Southside, a region home to diverse musical styles. Johnny became a powerful singer and songwriter and, after stints with soul and blues bands, returned to his bluegrass roots.
The Fly Birds
Winners of the 2016 Watermelon Park Fest Band Competition: The Fly Birds are a trio made up of Elizabeth Baker and Mary Dunlap of Winchester VA on Banjo and Bass and Sarah Twigg of Barton MD on the guitar. Their unique vocals as well as original style of folk music is topped off with tasteful songwriting skills and a charming presence on stage and record. The band was formed in April 2016 and plan to release their first record in 2017.
The Jacobs Ferry Stragglers
The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers draw freely from old-time, bluegrass, country, jazz, rockabilly and swing styles to create their tight, high-energy string band music. Well-crafted original songs with emotional depth, masterful picking, and resonant vocal harmonies combine to forge new territories and a fresh take on Appalachian Americana music. Band members Gary Antol, Libby Eddy, Mitch Hall and Ed Croft hail from the mountains and river towns of southwestern Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio.
“What began as a simple duet that has quickly burst into a colossal sound flared by robust song writing, ardent vocals and sturdy musicianship. This folk quartet originally met in the mountains of Appalachia. Dalton Dash began creating songs that spoke of love, loss, and troubles that today’s young people could relate to while keeping a traditional yet tempo pushing style.Their eclectic taste has allowed them to play shows that range from bluegrass to hard hitting rock and roll sets. With guitar playing that would knock the wind out of any listener just by watching and mandolin parts that bite at the heels of any dancer, the jovial and up-beat acoustic sounds seem electrified by their very energy, even when they slow it down a notch.”
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