Thursday, July 17, 2008

Podunk Bluegrass Festival - East Hartford - Preview


Podunk Main Stage
Photo by Larry Bilansky


The Podunk Bluegrass Festival’s thirteenth edition will run from July 31 – August 3 at Martin Park in East Hartford, CT. Podunk is often used as dismissive name applied to a small place of little significance. It also represents a place in Hartford named after the Podunk Indians. While suggesting a small, rural setting, Podunk is actually held in a 27 acre city park in East Hartford, CT. Although located in the urban center of Hartford, the park offers a quiet and protected place for a bluegrass festival. Podunk has achieved a rank among the top four bluegrass festivals held in the northeast each summer by offering top notch entertainment, plenty of associated activities, and, this year, an innovative series of seminars for bands and bluegrass professionals to work with national authorities on elements of their professional development.



This year’s lineup is an exceptional one, offering both traditional and progressive bluegrass bands in rich combination including international, national, and regional representation:

Aldridge, Lester, and Ferguson with Gail Wade, Kene Hyatt, and Marc Roy (MD) – Thursday Blistered Fingers (ME) - Sunday

Blue Moon Rising (TN) – Saturday

Chris West (Blue Moon Rising)

Keith Garrett (Blue Moon Rising)

Dale Ann Bradley (KY) – Thursday and Friday

Dale Ann Bradley

Dailey & Vincent (TN) – Friday

Jamie Dailey


Darrin Vincent

Cadillac Sky (TX) – Saturday

Brian Simpson (Cadillac Sky)

Matt Menafee (Cadillac Sky)

Cherryholmes (TN) – Saturday

Jerry Cherryholmes


Cia Cherryholmes

Sandy Leigh Cherryholmes

Skip Cherryholmes

B.J. Cherryholmes

Molly Kate Cherryholmes

Larry Cordle, Carl Jackson, and Jerry Salley (TN) – Saturday

Gravity (Sweden) – Thursday

The Infamous Stringdusters (TN) – Friday

Jeremy Garrett (Infamous Stringdusters)


Travis Book (Infamous Stringdusters)

Chris Pandofi (Infamous Stringdusters)

Andy Hall (Infamous Stringdusters)

Andy Falco (Infamous Stringdusters)
Joy Kills Sorrow (MA) – Saturday and Sunday

Claire Lynch Band (TN) – Friday

Claire Lynch

Jim Hurst (Claire Lynch Band)

The Muellers (ME) – Friday

Tony Trischka Double Banjo Bluegrass Spectacular with Special Guests (NY) – Saturday

Tony Trischka

Noam Pikelny (Double Banjo Spectacular)
Nothin’ Fancy (VA) – Thursday

Nothin' Fancy
Dan Paisley & Southern Grass (PA) – Saturday

Dan Paisley Band


Dan Paisley

Pine Mountain Railroad (TN) – Sunday

Karl Shifflet & Big Country (TX) – Friday

Carl Shifflet & Big Country

The SteelDrivers (TN) – Saturday

The Larry Stephenson Band (TN) – Saturday

Larry Stephenson


Kristen Scott Benson (Larry Stephenson Band)

Jason Barie (Larry Stephenson Band)

Check here for a specific performance schedule. There is also an extensive selection of workshops and family oriented activities. Podunk offers a Kids Academy staffed by the same people who work at Strawberry Park and Grey Fox, providing continuity for kids whose families attend more than one festival as well as first class learning experiences in making bluegrass music. Look for some interesting surprises in at least the Tony Trischka and Cordle, Jackson, Salley sets.

This year Podunk will be sponsoring a series of workshops and seminars for bands and musicians scheduled to be held off site at the East Hartford Cultural Center in East Hartford on Saturday at a nominal cost of $15.00. Offered for bands, people who play in bands or are thinking of starting one, these workshops offer an opportunity to learn from musicians, song writers, and industry executives about the nuts and bolts of being a bluegrass professional. Workshops include:

Working with an Agent - by Jim Roe, Roe Entertainment, Nashville, TN

Record Companies – Ken Irwin, President, Rounder Records

Producing Your Record – Carl Jackson

Booking at Venues – Arnie Fleischer, Promoter Emelin Theatre, Mamaroneck, NY

Managing the Band – Pete Wernick “Dr. Banjo” and Vickie Simmons

Songwriting – Larry Cordle and Jerry Salley

For more information on this remarkable opportunity, call festival promoter Roger Moss at 860-282-8241.

Camping at Podunk is “in the rough” but provisions are made for hot showers. A feature of this camping experience is a “Best Campsite” competition, so campers who like to decorate their sites can have at it. There are nearby shower and toilet facilities, and pump outs will be provided, presumably at a price. Campers may begin to check in on Wednesday. Podunk provides its own food cantina and promises a wholesome menu including vegetarian choices. Other vendors will be on site, but have not been announced.

Tickets to Podunk cost $99.00 for a four day pass with camping. Adult day tickets on Friday and Saturday are $38.00 with lower prices on Thursday and Sunday as well as discounts for juniors 13 – 17 and seniors 65 and over. Children under twelve are free. Tickets may be ordered on-line at these prices. Gate prices are higher. Check out ticket information here. My friend Jack Holland has posted a preview of Podunk at his blog Bluegrassers. Check it out for more information about the bands.

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