Friday, May 4, 2012

Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival - Gettysburg, PA

The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, held twice annually at Granite Hill Camping Resort in Gettysburg, PA, will open for its 64th season on May 17, 2012 and run for four days, closing on Sunday afternoon the 20th. I can think of no other bluegrass festival where attendees can sit around a large swimming pool while listening to some of the finest bluegrass to be found anywhere. The campground provides plenty of space for dry camping as well as many full hook-up sites, although these are usually booked in advance. The new stage, sitting at the foot of a gradual hill has wonderful site lines on a gentle hill. Sound at Gettysburg is among the best anywhere. A full roster, still being completed at this writing includes the following bands:

Rhonda Vincent & the Rage (Saturday)
The Boxcars (Friday)
Mountain Heart (Thursday)
Lonesome River Band (Friday)
Blue Highway (Saturday)
The Hillbenders (Sunday)
Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out (Thursday)
Steel Drivers (Saturday)

Steep Canyon Rangers (Friday) 

Seldom Scene (Saturday/Sunday)

Charlie Sizemore Band (Friday)
The Tuttles w/ AJ Lee (Saturday) 
Della Mae (Sunday)
Dry Branch Fire Squad (Saturday/Sunday)
Long Road Home (Friday)
The Roys (Sunday)  
Patent Pending (Friday) 
Donna Ulisse (Sunday)


 The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival achieves a remarkable balance between familiar old favorite bands and ones that are either new on the scene or new to this venue. While I'm not completely certain this list is correct. Here's an overview of bands coming to Gettysburg for the first time.

Charlie Sizemore Band

Charlie Sizemore spent several years as lead singer with Ralph Stanley & the Clinch Mountain Boys and is an entertainment lawyer practicing in Nashville. The combination yields songs with plaintive, sad lyrics and witty songs displaying a mordant sense of humor. Sisemore is a great choice for Gettysburg.  


Donna Ulisse


Donna Ulisse has a great story to go along with her wonderful voice and personality. Drawn to Nashville a generation ago with a recording contract, she found herself relegated to contract writing and performing demo recordings. Several years ago, Keith Sewell convinced her to put some of her songs on a CD, which turned into something of a hit. Since then she's put together a first rate band and begun touring. Donna will be at Gettysburg on Thursday for two not to be missed sets. 

 The Tuttles with A.J. Lee

The Tuttles with A.J. Lee made a big splash at IBMA last year. A family band with the addition of Ms. Lee, who's a fine singer, they should provide a very pleasant surprise. Molly Tuttle, accompanied by her father Jack won the Chris Austin Song Writing Contest's general division last week with a her song "Walden" written as a high school project several years ago.

 Della Mae

Della Mae has had several recent personnel changes reflecting changes in their sound and direction. They have been increasingly prominent with performances at Telluride, DelFest, and Grey Fox coming up this season.  Celia Woodsmith's smokey, rocky voice along with the band's increasingly tight instrumental sound and drive promise this band will be a highlight.

Long Road Home

Long Road Home has morphed from a hot field picking jam band into a more mature and focused group featuring some of the original members along with newcomers to the band who add maturity. Pete Wernick head this least on banjo. I haven't heard this band, but I'd bet that with Pete in the group, it'll be tight and both innovative and traditional sounding.

 The Roys
Lee Roy

Elaine Roy

Lee and Elaine Roy are a rising brother/sister duo who have become increasingly visible in the past two years. Nurtured in bluegrass with a strong country tinge, they've surrounded themselves with a young, hot-picking band, making a splash in the bluegrass pond.


 Patent Pending

I've never heard this band, and there's very little information about  this band on line.


 Gettysburg always has a full schedule of workshops in the spacious, inventive workshop tent shown above. You can always count on interesting super-jams as well as teaching sessions and more at the workshop tent, which schedules programs on the first three days of the festival.

Lineup & Tickets

You can find more information about the festival lineup and schedule here and tickets here.

Granite Hill Campground Features
The New Stage 

 The large new stage features a distinctive warm, wooden background in a barnlook building that sits perfectly into the site. The gently sloping hillside gives excellent sitelines and helps keep the very good sound rolling up the hill. Food vendors and artist's merchandise tents are conveniently located along the right side while craft tents line the back. There are two covered spaces for people seeking to avoid both the sun and the rain. A snack bar operated by the campground is to the left rear with the B&B just above the large pool. A fish pond completes the central part of the campus to provide a unique and comfortable festival setting. 


Shade Tent

Pool and B&B

Fish Pond

 Sand Box

Be Prepared for All Kinds of Weather

And Always Great Music from Folks You Know, too!

Seldom Scene

Rhonda Vincent

Mountain Heart
The Lonesome River Band

 Blue Highway

 The Boxcars
Dry Branch Fire Squad

 IIIrd Tyme Out

How to Get to Granite Hill

View Larger Map 

 The Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival at Granite Hill Campground Resort is one of the best. See you there.