Suwannee Spring Reunion Festival 2019

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Apr 032019
 

By Joshua Wallace

Photos By Joshua Wallace

This year I had the pleasure of attending Friday and Saturday night of the Suwannee Spring Reunion Festival. This festival actually ran March 21st – 24th, 2019 which is Thursday through Sunday so I did not get to go to the entire festival, but I still had an amazing time with all that I saw. This was actually my first experience at the Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park with a festival. I live within 45 minutes of the park but I have only had the chance to visit them around Christmas time for their amazing drive through Christmas lights display. This year I was able to correct that error and I had an amazing couple of days at the Suwannee Spring Reunion.

Town Mountain Jamming

I arrived Friday afternoon and took a minute to get my bearings. The site for the festival is huge and sports a total of 4 music stages plus a 5th stage that is mostly various workshops. The two main stages are the Amphitheater Stage and the Porch Stage which alternate all day long. There is a Florida Stage, which is a tent stage in a nearby field, and a Music Hall where you can enjoy various acts in an in-door setting. The workshop stage is called the Music Farmer Stage. I focused most of my time between the two main stages and the music hall. This festival is scheduled so that bands have 2 or more sets throughout the weekend so if you miss one set, you’ll be able to catch another later on. The only band that did not repeat was Marty Stuart and he had the Saturday night headlining slot.

Town Mountain

When I arrived, the first band I saw was Town Mountain. They were playing on the Amphitheater stage and I arrived in time to catch some of my favorites from them. They did “Down Low” and “New Freedom Blues” from their new record, but also took the time to do some of their older tunes like “Law Dog”. The band’s second set on Saturday afternoon at the Porch stage saw them going deeper through their catalog. I was really impressed with this band live and hope to see more of them in the future.

The Shawn Camp Band

Next, I went into the Music Hall area and caught a bit of Shawn Camp and his band. I was not familiar with much of his music before seeing him but I enjoyed what I saw. He played songs I knew like “Bad News” which is covered by Whitey Morgan and “I”m Dying For Someone To Live For” which he co-wrote with Loretta Lynn for her 2018 album Wouldn’t It Be Great. I did not get to spend much time with this show, however I enjoyed what I heard and look forward to hearing more in the future.

Steep Canyon Rangers

The next band I saw on the main stage was Steep Canyon Rangers. I was looking forward to seeing this band live as I had never seen them before, but I have been a fan of theirs since they first recorded with Steve Martin back in 2011. Between their two Amphitheater Stage sets, one on Friday and one on Saturday, the Steep Canyon Rangers hit most of the songs you would want to hear from them. One of the highlights for me was an extended version of “Radio” which changed mid song into a full version of Tom Petty’s “Running Down The Dream”. They also hit deeper songs such as “Tell The Ones I Love” and “Out In The Open”. That track actually featured a nice long harmonica solo from Graham Sharp. As I said, this was my first time seeing this band and I’m looking forward to seeing more. Their form of bluegrass is a bit more rocking than other groups, and I dig it. It fits well into the longer jams often heard at the Suwannee festivals.

Steep Canyon Rangers on one mic

The Grass Is Dead

Speaking of longer jams, I went over to the Music Hall to catch some of The Grass Is Dead. This band takes songs from the 70’s rock band Grateful Dead and does their long jams in bluegrass style. Jerry Garcia played in some bluegrass bands during his time, and that influence sometimes crept into his music with the Dead so a bluegrass tribute band to the Dead is not a stretch by any means. While I am a fan of the Grateful Dead, I’m not familiar enough with their catalog as a whole to go through everything the band played. I do remember “Alabama Getaway” and “Samson And Delilah” during this set. Another highlight was that this set got a lot of people dancing and moving their feet which is always nice to see at these festivals.

People Dancing with The Grass Is Dead

Billy Strings with Evening Light Show

After The Grass Is Dead, I finally sat down at the Amphitheater Stage for one of the highlights of the festival. I have always heard about Billy Strings and how amazing of a guitar picker he is and seeing him live certainly blew me away. He played a good hour and a half long set on Friday night and a slightly shorter set on Saturday. Both sets had some nice extended jams which highlighted his guitar picking and the talents of his band as a whole. A highlight on Friday night was an extended “Meet Me At The Creek” which went for almost 15 minutes. Then on Saturday he stretched “Dust In A Baggie” out to almost 11 minutes. There were plenty of other long jams during his set and the crowd loved his style of blazing fast flat-picking. I will most certainly be seeing Billy Strings more often in the future as these two sets made a lifelong fan out of me.

Billy Strings Rocking Out

Jim Lauderdale

Saturday, I saw two country music legends on stage. First up was Jim Lauderdale and his band. I have been a fan of Jim for a while and this was the first time I was able to see him live. Some highlights for me of this set included a Odie Blackmon Co-write “Two More Wishes”. This song actually appears on the new George Strait album and Jim stayed close to what is performed on that record. I also enjoyed hearing the track “Wild On Me Fast” from his latest record Time Flies. Finally, he also did the title cut of the Wait ‘Til Spring album he did with Donna The Buffalo who also perform at this festival regularly.

Jim Lauderdale Jam Session

Marty Stuart and The Fabulous Superlatives

The finale of the Suwannee Spring Reunion Festival for me was Marty Stuart. I’m a huge fan of Marty and his show with The Fabulous Superlatives is one of the best country shows you can see. Marty was in good spirits for this fest as he praised the Suwannee and Florida throughout. I loved hearing “Tear The Woodpile Down” from his Nashville, Vol. 1 album. He also got to more recent tunes from his Way Out West cd like “Time Don’t Wait” and “Whole Lotta Highway”. He also mentioned that his 1999 album The Pilgrim would see an extended release this year and played a song that was meant for that album but he couldn’t finish until recently. I can’t wait to hear the expanded edition of this album. He surprised the crowd with a great rendition of “Bonanza” and did an amazing solo “Orange Blossom Special”. I love that song more every time I see Marty do it. I have seen Marty perform many times and this was one of the best that I have seen him. I hope he’s back in the lineup next year.

Marty Stuart

Marty Stuart Solo

The Suwannee Spring Reunion Festival featured many acts I didn’t get to see a full set of or missed. I did catch some of Donna The Buffalo, The Pigeon Kings and Cicada Rhythm throughout the festival also. This was my first time experiencing the Suwannee Spring Reunion Festival and I cannot wait to go back. I am looking forward to it’s sister festival the Suwannee Roots Revival in October. For more information on the Suwannee Spring Reunion, check out the festival’s website.

Mr. Del McCoury Turns 80 At the Grand DEL Opry.

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Jan 182019
 

You know folks this past year I have indeed covered a LOT of things that Bluegrass Legend Mr. Del McCoury has been doing, simply because I appreciate his contributions to his craft SO MUCH. But honestly, let’s face it everyone..look what he does for the younger generation that are traveling the roads he paved. He literally has taken Mr. Billy Strings under his wings as well as other bands.

He and his entourage of masterminds have assembled one of the nation’s HOTTEST festivals in Maryland called DelFest, That has opened many doors for new artists and bands alike, and has turned MANY fans (including myself) onto some DARN GOOD bands in the Bluegrass community.

His career spans decades, and involves more people and places than I can even write in an article, but I always give it one hell of a college try. He has graced just about every Bluegrass festival I can think of including one of my favorite ( what I call) variety festivals….Muddy Roots. he played one heck of a memorable show there that year, and secured his place in Muddy history! I cover 200 festivals a year, and I can pretty much dictate what years he played what festivals.

The mighty Grand Ole Opry, I mean do I really need to elaborate on the significance of this name or this institution? I truly think that the Opry means just as much to Mr. Del as it does to all of us, and I think Mr. Del McCoury means a LOT to the Opry in return. Why, I’m almost adamant that standing inside that circle of wood means the world to Mr. Del….so now I suppose you ask WHAT is my point in this rambling?

February 13th, 2019 Mr. Del McCoury will be celebrating his 80th birthday at the Opry, and taking over the entire program, thusly it has been dubbed the Grand Del Opry! With special guests already announced being Mr. Sam Bush, Mr. Marty Stuart, The Del McCoury Band, Mr. Ricky Skaggs, The Travelin McCourys and Mr. Vince Gill. MORE TO BE ANNOUNCED!

Please go HERE to get your tickets for this event by going HERE and there will also be pre sales, you can get them by going HERE.

Dierks Bentley and Old Crow Medicine Show will be joining Del’s birthday celebration at the Grand Ole Opry.  Don’t miss out on the biggest party of the year and get your tickets now.
We want all you Delheads to have an opportunity to experience Del at The Grand Ole Opry.  The Opry is an institution and means more to Del than any venue in the country, and everyone should visit it at least once. The Opry is offering a student discount for Del’s 80th Birthday Celebration, click the link below for buy one get one free tickets in the Opry’s student section!  Discount applies even if you are a student at heart!!!!
Mar 262017
 

One of my all time favorite festivals to write about that happens in the spring happens in Cumberland Maryland, and it’s called none other than Delfest. You know I LOVE ME some Del McCoury and I highly encourage you to attend the 10th annual Delfest on May 25-28th at the Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, MD.

The Del McCoury Band plays many of the festivals I cover throughout the year and it’s always nice to run into them on my website adventures. This is his own festival and never falls short of festival fun and you can purchase your tickets and passes HERE.

This is a multiple stage outdoor festival event, that is conveniently located by airports and many hotels.  The fairgrounds have permanent restrooms and showers, and we supplement the facilities with ample portable toilets. Please be courteous and take only the space you need. Roping off areas and saving space for latecomers is not acceptable festival etiquette. Camping overnight on Sunday is permitted. All patrons must leave the fairgrounds by noon on Monday. There WILL BE a family type camping area that is quieter at night, and camping IS INCLUDED in your ticket price, however you may not be camped near your vehicle due to attendance. You also have to purchase a separate parking pass to park your vehicle on the adjoining property. As always because I am a patron that requires hotels at my festivals that my website covers here are some that I found on their website and my own research.

Hotels and Motels

Fairfield Inn & Suites
21 N. Wineow St.
Cumberland, MD 21502
301.722.0340

Holiday Inn Express & Suites La Vale/Cumberland
1076 National Hwy
La Vale, MD 21502

301.729.4800

Ramada Cumberland
100 S. George Street
Cumberland, MD 21502
301.724.8800

Red Roof Inn LaVale/Cumberland
I-68 at exit #40
12310 Winchester Rd SW, LaVale, MD 21502
301.729.6700

Super 8 Motel La Vale/Cumberland Area
I-68 at Rt 53
1301 National Hwy
La Vale, MD 21502
301.729.6265

Rocky Gap Casino & Resort
16701 Lakeview Rd. NE
Flintstone (Cumberland), MD 21530
800.724.0828
301.784.8400

Frostburg Days Inn
11100 New George Creek Road
Frostburg, MD USA 21532
301.689.2050

Best Western Braddock Motor Inn
1268 National Highway
La Vale, Maryland 21502
301.729.3300

Comfort Inn & Suites
1216 National Highway
LaVale,  MD 21502
301.729.6400

Hampton Inn
11200 New George’s Creek Road
Frostburg, MD  21532
301.689.1998

Microtel Inn
70 N Tornado Way
Keyser, WV 26726
304.597.1400
toll free: 1.800.771.7171

Bed and Breakfasts/Historic Inns

The Inn On Decatur
108 Decatur Street
Cumberland, MD 21502
301.722.4887 or 240.727.7039

Town Hill Hotel Bed & Breakfast
31101 National Pike
Little Orleans, MD 21766
301.478.2794

Local Campgrounds

Rocky Gap State Park
12500 Pleasant Valley Road
Flintstone MD 21530

 

Share your DelFest Photos March 29th!

Be in the DelFest Family Album!

DelFest really is like a family reunion each year—and not just for the McCourys! Your smiling faces are a real part of the fabric of DelFest and we love to see your own special DelFest moments and memories. On that note, today, March 29th we want to turn Facebook, Twitter and Instagram into a virtual 10th Annual DelFest Family Photo Album of memories! Find your favorite DelFest memories/photos and upload them now with the #delfestfamilyreunion hashtag and tell people what you love about DelFest! Then everyone can search for and enjoy each other’s photos…and we’ll reshare some on our pages as well!

 

Del McCoury Band
The Travelin’ McCourys
Trey Anastasio Band
Gov’t Mule
Bela Fleck
Railroad Earth
Leftover Salmon
Hot Rize
The Infamous Stringdusters
Steep Canyon Rangers
Marty Stuart And His Fabulous Superlatives
Tim O Brien
The Gibson Brothers
Sierra Hull
Jeff Austin
Cabinet
Donna The Buffalo
Fruition
Sara Watkins
Noah Pikelny
Billy Strings
Joe Craven And The Sometimers
River Whyless
Dead Man Winter
Cris Jacobs
The Broomstix
Dead Winter’s Carpenters
junior Sisk And Rambler’s Choice
Dre’ And The Collective
The Ballroom Thieves
Head For The Hills
Ghost Of Paul Revere
Kitchen Dwellers
Grand Ole Ditch

 

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Jan 122017
 

It’s time now to delve into the wonderful world of an often overlooked genre of music…..Bluegrass. Often times when the general public doesn’t even have a clue about bands like Seldom Scene or who Del McCoury is I always commiserate with them. Often times they part ways with me with a better grasp of a decades old format of music, and if you tried to sit and analyze precisely WHEN it birthed you would have to ponder for a long time. You probably wouldn’t be able to firmly decide on what to report on the when and where it started, it wouldn’t surprise me if a damn triceratops was buck dancing to the Fruit Jar Drinkers.

Americana bands and String Bands also adorn the stage down here in a place called Bluegrass Underground which to someone like me is an automatic way to generate goosebumps on my arms. You see folks if you go out to East Tennessee toward the majestic Nickajack and Lookout Mountain you will tarry through McMinnville Tennessee. Folks, you KNOW ME and I love to incorporate music jobs with eating so if you are ever in that area you MUST STOP at Jim Oliver’s Smokehouse for a buffet that you will not believe your eyes or your stomach. Within those walls exist a Charlie and Ira Louvin museum complete with artifacts that are sure to compliment your thirst for knowledge like I have.

It is there a whopping 333 feet down inside of a mountain  that PBS airs a television series that began in 2011 and 36 episodes exist today. This show is broadcast from the confines of  the Volcano Room which is a subterranean amphitheater 333 feet below Mcminnville at the historic Cumberland Caverns. This program celebrates many genres of music from Bluegrass to String Bands and Americana. The acoustics within this theater are unlike any in the southern United States and more importantly the entire country, I assure you there is nothing like it anywhere.

Just recently they announced their entire lineup for filming their seventh season of taping for PBS on March 24th,25th and 26th 2017 and I have that lineup here folks:
* NOTE the complete schedule lineup after this one is NOT being filmed.
* You can purchase tickets to attend the LIVE filmed season on January 14th at 11AM.

Friday:
Russell Moore And IIIrd Tyme Out
Chris Robinson And The Brotherhood
Conor Oberst
The Mavericks

Saturday:
Kasey Chambers
The McCrary Sisters
Parker Millsap
Drew Holcomb And The Neighbors

Sunday:
Blues Traveler
Rhonda Vincent And The Rage
Marty Stuart And The Fabulous Superlatives
Don Bryant And The Bo-Keys

So according to their website this is the complete performance schedule for the weekends up until summer of 2017 and if you click on the colored dates above the individual shows here it will take you to the page to purchase tickets for any show you want!

Sat Jan 21st
https://flamekeeperband.com/
Billy Strings

Sat Feb 25th
Doyle Lawson And Quicksilver
Jenni Lyn

Sun March 12th-Sold Out
Tommy Emmanuel
Joe Robinson

Sat April 8th
The Larry Keel Experience
Rumpke Mountain Boys

Sat April 15th
Here Come The Mummies
http://www.laterzaclasse.it/

Sat April 22nd
Dale Ann Bradley
SHEL

Sat May 6th
Town Mountain
Haas Kowert Tice

Sun June 17th
>Larry Stephenson Band
Glade City Rounders