Ol' Man River travels to Del Fest

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Published on: May 28th, 2016


Del McCoury Band at soundcheck


Del McCoury Band opening soundcheck


The Wood Brothers


Ol' Man River & Del McCoury

It's festival season all over the country and I am at Del Fest this weekend in Cumberland, MD. This is the 11th annual gathering of bluegrass greats both young and old. Del McCoury played with the legendary Bill Monroe in the 1960s and now leads a band with his two sons, Ronnie on mando and Rob on banjo, as well as Jason Carter on fiddle and Allen Bartram on bass. Del started the festival to celebrate bluegrass music and he and his family host it. 

I arrived Thursday morning and quickly settled into the campground and festival grounds. There were pickers everywhere and music filled the air. Del's band opened the main stage with a souncheck at 4:45. The rain welcomed us, but it was short lived.

After the sound check we were treated to a performance by the Ag Pavilion Steamrollers who won a contest at the Del Fest Music Academy (more about this in later posts). The next act was Elephant Revival, a Colorado quintet that blends bluegrass, Celtic and a little Americana folk music. They proved to be very entertaining. The night was still young but things were now starting to get fired up!

Next came the Wood Brothers, consisting of Chris Wood on bass (from Medeski Martin & Wood), his brother Oliver on guitar, and drummer and keyboardist Jano Rix to form an interesting trio. Their tunes really got the crowd going and people were singing along throughout the entire set. This would be tough to beat, but fortunately Yonder Mountain was on deck. 

Yonder Mountain String Band began playing at 10:25 and closed out the main stage for day one. They did not disappoint. This band has been around for 17 years and has recently made a couple of changes. Co-founder and mando player Jeff Austin left the band to pursue a solo carrer. He was replaced by Jacob Joliff and they also added Allie Kral on fiddle, giving the band a much broader sound. They were on fire last night from the first note to the last. They ended just before midnight with a crowd favorite, their version of "Parking Lot," which was almost 25 minutes long. They will be playing tonight at 1:45am for the late night set. 

Last evening's late night set opened with Fruition, followed by The Infamous String Dusters featuring Nicki Bluhm. The sets were said to be amazing but I couldn't muster the energy to go. My 1175 mile, 17 hour drive sent me to bed around 1am, but not before scouring the campground for some amazing late night picking and even a few interviews. Tune in to the Acoustic Blues show on June 5 at 2pm to hear some of these recordings and find out about the Del Fest Music Academy.

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