One of the most delightful elements of Joe Val for me grew out of the decision to program bands which were highly musical while not insisting on strict adherence to bluegrass. The only other venue we've seen Robin & Linda Williams, a duo we're used to hearing on Prairie Home Companion, before this past weekend has been Merelfest. It was a treat to see and hear them up close. The Whites brought their gospel and country roots to the audience to great effect. Jimmy Gaudreau and Moondi Klein, with their smooth and melodic coffee house sound and vibe were a real treat.
Gerry Katz, who's largely responsible for the programming reached out to showcase top-knotch bands on the main stage as well as exciting new-comers on the Showcase Stage downstairs. Three bands stood out for me. We've been seeing and following Hot Mustard for nearly a year, and were happy to see this band get a main stage performance at a major festival. They'll be at others this summer. Gerry used the musical resources of Berklee College of Music very well, with The Berklee All-Stars and Chasing Blue standing out.