Happy festival season to all! Last summer I had the opportunity to attend a number of festivals outside of New Orleans and shared those experiences here. I hope to do the same this summer and I am happy to announce that Memorial Day weekend I will be attending my third DelFest. DelFest is a family oriented bluegrass music festival hosted by Del McCoury and his family over Memorial Day weekend, celebrating it’s 11th anniversary this year. Del has had a distinguished career in bluegrass music including playing with Bill Monroe. Some of you may have caught The Traveling McCoury’s on the Fais Do Do stage at last years NOJ&HF, which is basically Del’s band led by his two sons, without Del.
During the week prior to DelFest a music academy is held. Musicians of all ages and ability levels come to learn technique from many of the festival performers in a school type setting. Students form bands on day one by a lottery. The bands compete on the last day of the academy, with the winner performing on the Main Stage during the festival. This all takes place in Cumberland Maryland in the northern Appalachian Mountains, on the Potomac River. The festival grounds are the county fairgrounds with incredible facilities for all types of festival attendees. This is the first year that I will be arriving early and will be able to spend some time with some of the academy's students prior to the festival. I will be sharing my experiences here with you the listener.
This festival quickly became my best overall camping music festival experience and my all time favorite. DelFest opens the envelope of bluegrass music just enough to make it interesting to music lovers of all types, and this years lineup looks to do the same. On the final day New Orleans own The New Orleans Suspects will doing a set. The festival is full of performers who have graced the stages of the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in years past. The festival kicks off Thursday afternoon with a performance of the academy's band contest winner and then The Del McCoury Band doing their first set called the soundcheck. Other performers on day one will The California Honeydrops, Rhiannon Giddens and The Infamous Stringdusters. Some of the other performers that I am really looking forward to over the final three days are the Bryan Sutton Band, The Dawg Trio featuring David Grisman, Fruition, Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder, Greensky Bluegrass, Rising Appalachia, Richard Thompson, The Jerry Douglas Band, Billy Strings, Sam Bush Band, Sierra Hull, The Bluegrass Congress, The Traveling McCourys, The Reverend Payton's Big Damn Band, The Wood Brother, Old crow Medicine Show and our own the New Orleans Suspects.
I will be blogging here daily with a recap of the prior day with photos and for the first time I will be posting interviews with some of these performers within these blogs. This year I will also be including coverage of the DelFest Academy celebrating its 10th year.
After DelFest I will make my way to Bean Blossom IN for my first John Hartford Memorial Festival held at the Bill Monroe Music Park & Campground. Some of the performers I am looking forward to there are Split Lip Rayfield, Horseshoes & Hand Grenades. Billy Strings, The Infamous Stringdusters, John McEuen, The John Hartford String Band, Hot Buttered Rum, Jeff Austin Band and Darol Anger. I hope you will join me here for the daily updates from both festivals. I will be flying my WWOZ flags at both festivals so if you are attending either please stop and say hi.
DelFest Academy takes place May 20-24
DelFest takes place May 24-27
John Hartford Memorial Festival takes place from May 30 to June 2