Monday, August 24, 2015

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival: September 17 - 19, 2015 - Preview

Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival is located about half a mile north and 2.5 miles east of Exit 407 of Interstate 40 just north of Sevierville, Tennessee. It is held on a former dairy farm converted to a commercial campground and music park. With the large, comfortable stage located in a slightly sloping former milking parlor, the site provides protection from the weather and good listening, especially with sound provided by John Holder's Blue Ridge Sound. It's one of our favorite festivals, compact, welcoming, comfortable, with plenty of activity and fine bands. People who know it, love it. If you've never been to Dumplin Valley before, why not make this your first trip. The festival will run from September 17 - September 19 this year. Here's the scoop:

Balsam Range 

Balsam Range is the 2014 IBMA Entertainer of the Year and nominated to repeat this in 2015. Coming from western North Carolina, Balsam Range represents a range of personal musical tastes who have come together to develop a sound that rings of both the ancient hills and much newer musical influences that come together to create a pleasing hole. Always a joy to hear.....

Cordle, Jackson & Salley

What happens when three if Nashville's most popular and successful singer/songwriters come together to showcase their talents singing and playing each other's songs, often with songbird Val Storey to add flavor? A magical hour or so of familiar and not so familiar songs, award winning and sometimes provocative, but always moving and interesting. You'll find yourself saying, "Oh, I didn't know he wrote that one!"

Jimbo Whaley & Greenbrier

Jimbo Whaley (pictured here with Dobro player Matt Leadbetter) was a founding member of Pine Mountain Railroad touring widely for several years. Now performing only rarely, and mostly around his home in Pigeon Forge, Jumbo still has an electric personality. His story songs tug the heart as he weaves tales about the hazy, perhaps lost, Eden he grew up in or the courage and perseverance of folks he's known. His band, Greenbrier, is filled with solid music professionals. 

Barefoot Nellie & Co.

Barefoot Nellie & Co. is a Chattanooga-based band that won the Bluegrass Idol contest at Bluegrass on the Plains this year. In the songs we listened to, the adopted a unique take on a familiar song (Aragon Mill) creating an even more haunting air than the song customarily evokes. The contrast of the slow, melodic fiddle behind the past-paced drive of the rest of the band in Lefty Frizzel's bluegrass/country standard "Gone, Gone, Gone" also suggests unique band takes on familiar songs that promises to be interesting. 

Bethel University Bluegrass Band 

The Bethel University Bluegrass Band is a component of the widely recognized Reanaissance Program of this Tennessee sectarian liberal arts college located in McKenzie Tennessee. The bluegrass band is directed by Stephen Mougin, longtime guitarist with the Sam Bush Band who has, during the past few years forged a career in band coaching and mentoring. The band is always a pleasure to see and hear.

Rhonda Vincent & The Rage

Somehow we seem to have gone through an entire summer without having seen Rhonda Vincent & the Rage. We know she's been working, and working hard week in and week out, but, this year, not in the places where we are. This is our loss, as the Queen of Bluegrass always puts on a good show, and her fans come away with a sense they've spent good time with a great performer supported by a group of side men who can'be be beat, nor do they miss a beat. It would be easy to imagine that from Hunter Berry playing fiddle on the left side to Aaron McDaris on banjo holding down the right, Rhonda's band was populated with pickers who each in his own way, is a bluegrass star. Rhonda continues to campaign as hard as ever and to give her best at each satisfying performance.

Josh Williams and Friends

Playing his Todd Sams Tony Rice model D28 replica and possessing on of the finest baritone voices in bluegrass, Josh Williams, who's won three IBMA Guitar Player of the Year awards, performs with a band he's chosen to call Josh Williams and Friends. It's a little difficult to know who's going to be in the band, but I can be pretty certain they'll play satisfying sets of Bluegrass Album Band material that allows Josh to more-than-adequately showcase his Tony Rice style picking. 

The Crowe Brothers

The Crowe Brothers, Josh on guitar and Wayne on bass, come from the relatively isolated and absolutely beautiful Maggie Valley, one of the prime music and tourist destinations of western North Carolina. Their music apologetically cries out "Mountain." Steve Sutton, on banjo, adds much to this very good band which certainly gets less attention than it deserves. Traditional North Carolina mountain bluegrass at its best......

Volume Five

Fiddler, Singer, Songwriter Glenn Harrell has led Volume Five, a Mississippi-based band, since its inception. Nominated for IBMA Emerging Band of the Year this year, the band features well-chosen gospel and secular material that's tuneful and moving. This year and next they are achieving wider national recognition, and should be on the mental maps of all bluegrass fans. Colby Laney has added solid singing (along with his fine flat picking) to a band that has steadily improved.

Becky Buller

After several years of playing with Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, where she established herself as an able song writer, singer, and comedienne, and a stint with the Darin & Brooke Aldridge Band,  Becky Buller took some time off to begin a family while she further established her song writing credentials and hosted a radio show. Now she has formed her own band, recorded her first solo CD, and embarked on a great adventure. Nominated for seven IBMA awards, Becky Buller is making a huge splash in her first full year as an independent band leader. While the personnel of her band remain uncertain, it's clear that Becky Buller is and will continue to be a force in bluegrass for years to come. Catch her early and watch her explode. 

Lonesome River Band

The Lonesome River Band is never willing to rest on its history of great songs played by lasting figures in bluegrass. After more than thirty years and more members than are easy to count, Sammy Shelor, who joined the band early in its life and has continued as its leader for lo these many years, is never content to rest on his many laurels (five time IBMA Banjo Player of the Year, recipient of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo & Bluegrass and more) insisting on adding new songs, many written by singer/guitarist Brandon Rickman. The recent addition of Jesse Smathers singing tenor and playing mandolin adds a different color to LRB's musical pallette. Barry Reid, on bass, is a wonder, both as the strong beat that helps drive the band, and as an inventive bass soloist. The work of both Smathers and Reid on Merle Haggard's "Shelley's Winter Love," is superb. 

Barry Reid

Breaking Grass

Breaking Grass is breaking through. Founded five or six years ago by lead singer/songwriter Cody Farrar, the band selects its music from a wide variety of eras within the bluegrass catalog while writing original material that is sometimes heart rending and at others comical and fun. The band writes together, creating strong shows. Farrar's outgoing personality and fine singing provides a lilting quality to the band. You'll like this band while wanting to get their recordings and and see them again. 

Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run

We haven't seen enough of Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run, but what we've seen has led us to be on the lookout for more. We're glad that she'll be at Dumplin Valley to provide it. Rebecca Frazier is a strong lead singer and standout flat picker. She's surrounded herself with a band designed to support her work while supplying enjoyable music themselves. A look at her tour schedule says that she has enjoyed increasingly widespread national attention recently. Rebecca Frazier and her band deserve more and will surely be getting it. 


We've seen Steve Dilling & Sideline frequently throughout the year as the attractiveness of their well-chosen covers, their fast, tight instrumentation, and good singing combine with Steve Dilling's folksy and famiar emceeing to create real enthusiasm for them as one of the foremost interpreters of traditional covers playing. Choosing most of their material from first and second generation bands, they manage to remain fresh by selecting less well-known songs and delivering them flawlessly. Always a good time.....

Fiddlin' Carson Peters

Carson Peters, at age eleven, shows remarkable poise on stage and off with his strong fiddling, his yet-to-develop voice, and his unselfconscious and smooth emceeing. It's hard not to be impressed with a kid whose experience has already surpassed many of his elders, with appearances in settings like NBC's Tonight Show with Jay Leno and on the floor of the Tennessee State Senate with Jimmy Fortune. He's young and able, and surely deserving watching. 

All told, Dumplin Valley has a fine lineup. But lineup is hardly all there is to this middlin' size, mostly traditional bluegrass festival in East Tennessee, only a few short miles from exit 407 on Interstate 40. Here's the rest:

The Details

Jamming: Plenty of jamming at a number of levels can be found at Dumplin Valley. You can always find Johnny Adams and his moderately paced jam under the pavilion before the festival and out beside the silos every morning of the festival. This jam is always welcoming, a great place for the beginner to wet his or her jamming feet and the somewhat more skilled to continue their progress. Other jams pop up all over the grounds, and you'll be able to find one to your liking at almost any hour.

Potluck Supper: There's no longer a Wednesday evening Pot Luck Supper, but sometimes folks get together to share. Make enough!

Open Stage: On Wednesday evening, there's an open stage for groups that have been around the jam for a couple of days or pickers newly arrived to play on stage, often with host and freaquent guest Joe Soward, half of the promoting team of Mitzi and Joe Soward that make this such a popular festival. 

Nearby Shopping and Attractions: Located just north of the tourist destination towns of Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg, Dumplin Valley provides a myriad of shopping and touring chooices within only a few miles. A Bass Pro Shop is only a couple of miles away. There's an outlet mall just down route 66, and other popular tourism and shopping destinations are quite convenient. When you shop or eat out, the Sowards ask that you save your receipts to deposit them for an annual drawing. They use these receipts to show potential sponsors and supporters of the festival its annual economic contribution to the region, while you stand a chance to win four-day tickets to the event. The Great Smokey National Park is within sight about fifteen miles to the east. September is always a good time to drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. There are restaurants to suit nearly every taste near Dumplin Valley, so come early and stay late to enjoy early autumn in East Tennessee.

Tickets: Prices for tickets to Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival remain unchanged from last year. The period to purchase advanced tickets has passed, but you can call to purchase tickets at the gate price and to arrange camping:
To order advance tickets call 865-397-7942
Gate Ticket Prices*
Weekend pass: $75 (in advance)
Thursday: $25 (adv) $30 (gate)
Friday: $25 (adv) $30 (gate)
Saturday: $25 (adv) $30 (gate)
**children 12 & under are free**
No Refunds

Camping: Dumplin Valley is a commercial campground as well as the location of this fine festival. In recent years, the Sowards have made strides toward increasing the number of full hookup sites and making the facility more attractive to transient campers and tourists. You can get more information here. For reactions of general campers who use the park at other times, check here

How to Get To Dumplin Valley
Place your location in the o and then click
for a custom map

Joe and Mitzi Soward are thoughtful planners and delightful hosts. The result of this is one of the most enjoyable small to medium sized festivals you could choose. They have carefully grown their festival and continued to improve it at every level: lineup, campground, vendors, and amenities. Come out and experience it for yourself.

Joe Soward

Mitzi Soward

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music by Barry Mazor - Book Review

Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music by Barry Mazor (Chicago Review Press, 2014, 340 Pages, $13.49/28.96) is a must read title for anyone interested in the development and popularization of roots music, not only from the U.S. but from Latin America, too. Peer is justly renowned for his early recording and popularization of the Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers. His larger influence on the development of popular music based on roots source material, his vision of how to develop and import international music, and the long lasting nature of his influence are much less well known. In journalist Barry Mazor's carefully researched authorized biography, Peer emerges as a prototype of a certain kind of mid-twentieth century American entrepreneur who was able to make a substantial fortune, build a lasting influence, and live his life with dignity, honesty, and honor. To achieve such a life and reputation in the cut-throat environment of the recording and publishing industry is quite a trick. Mazor presents the story in well-crafted prose that never becomes stilted or pedantic, despite his scholarly approach to the subject matter. Ralph Peer belongs in the library of any student of twentieth century American music.

Ralph Sylvester Peer was born in independence, Missouri in 1892. His father had a small store selling sewing machines, where Peer worked as a youth. As phonographs developed in the early twentieth century, it made sense that Abram Peer would add them to his product line. Thus, Peer grew up in a technological environment where he learned to tinker with phonographs. From early in his life he was viewed as technologically inclined, spending his spare time tinkering and, and as a hobby gardening, which would later become an important element in his life, too. He went to work for the Columbia Phonograph Company, supplying phonograph shops with parts to repair their product. The need for product to feed the hunger of phonograph owners for product for listening led him, perhaps inevitably, to recording and quickly into finding and developing artists to record and markets for phonographs in under-served communities. This led to Peer's lifetime in the record industry, first as an A & R (Artists and Repertoire) man and soon as a music publisher, where he spent the remainder of his long and eventful career. Peer died in 1960.

Ralph Peer

The foundation of Peer's recording fame lies in the well-known Bristol Sessions held in July and August of 1927 during which supervised the recording of local music by a number of artists including the Carter Family, Jimmy Rodgers, The Stonemans, and several gospel groups among others. Now called the “Big Bang” of country music in America, the Bristol sessions set in motion the development of local and regional performers, originally sought out to bolster local record sales, into national acts that would find a larger market. Along the way, Peer signed many of these same artists to personal publishing contracts under a separate company he formed called Southern Music, specializing initially in hillbilly and race records, in which he accumulated and distributed royalties to the performers, keeping a substantial and ethical portion for himself. For company internal political and economic reasons, Peer separated himself from direct employment with RCA, largely because he was personally making so much money. Southern Music was later sold back to Peer and was eventually renamed Peer Southern and is now known as peermusic, typically rendered in lower case letters.

Less well known is that Peer had first recorded early old-time musicians in the Southern Piedmont and New York from the early twenties onward. In 1922, Mamie  Smith was the first black artist specifically recorded to appeal to an African-American audience. Fiddlin John Carson and Charlie Poole were among the now seminal artists also recorded. Peers great gift was to see the appeal such artists, and the many more he recognized and recorded through the next decade or so, could have beyond local and regional appeal. He saw the synergies that could be achieved by matching these artists with different combinations of back-up instrumentation to reach out to broader audiences. At the beginning of their recording careers, dozens, perhaps hundreds, of artists signed publishing contracts with Ralph Peer, who managed the recording of their material by insisting on hiring performers who were also writers and whose work could be copyrighted under the Southern imprint.

An integral part of this book is the central role of Ralph Sylvester Peer in developing, incorporating, and exploiting the ever widening opportunities in commercial, popular music. Finding black jazz performers to back roots artists, for instance, opened up separate markets for the same performances. Signing Bill Monroe, whose music Mazor describes as, “a dynamic musical conversation between the traditional and the very up-to-date.” marked another seminal moment. Such an argument suggests Monroe's own commitment to finding and making these very same connections in his own music and expecting others to continue to do so. Mazor's chapter on the founding of BMI as a rival for the Broadway oriented ASCAP catalog that excluded hillbilly, race, and country music from mainstream recording is the best capsule account of this highly competitive period I've read. I've yet to find the narrower account of the story of the rivalry between these two performers rights organizations. Peer's influence spread to importing Latin American music to the U.S. during the thirties and forties, his work with Walt Disney and MGM in film scores, and much more. Peer deserves to be more widely known and understood. Barry Mazor's book helps accomplish this goal. A list of the artists signed by Peer to Peer Southern contracts, many still widely known and appreciated, would fill several pages if included in this review.

Barry Mazor

Barry Mazor is a longtime music, media, and business journalist and the author of Meeting Jimmie Rodgers, winner of Belmont University's Best Book on Country Music award. He has written regularly for the Wall Street Journal and No Depression magazine; his writing has also appeared in the Oxford American, the Washington Post, the Village Voice, Nashville Scene, American Songwriter, and the Journal of Country Music. (Author Profile from Chicago Review Press)

More than fifty years after his death, Ralph Peer's work still plays an important role in the publication and performance of music, not only in America, but around the world. Even in pursuing his hobby of collecting and cultivating camellias, Peer, because of his thoroughness and gentlemanly demeanor, became known worldwide as he avidly sought out and distributed new and lovely varieties of this beautiful plant. His cultivation of camellias can stand as a metaphor for his cultivation of people and music. In his book Ralph Peer and the Making of Popular Roots Music (Chicago Review Press, 2014, 340 Pages, $13.49/28.96) Barry Mazor has presented a portrait of the best kind of American businessman – ethical, honest, true to his calling, wildly successful, and still admired. Peer Southern, still largely a family business, continues to be influential and widely admired. Spending time with this fascinating and influential pioneer in the development of popular music has indeed been a treat. I bought this book in an electronic format and read it on my Kindle app.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival 2015, September 4-6: Preview

The Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival will run from September 4 - 6, 2015 at the Salem County Fairgrounds in Woodstown, New Jersey, just across the Delaware River bridge Wilmington, Delaware, and within convenient distance for bluegrass fans from New York to Richmond. This historic festival is entering its 44th year with an historically varied and interesting lineup which presents traditional and cutting edge bluegrass music along with closely aligned other music. The lineup this year is outstanding while the festival design is complex and all encompassing. This is the first time we've attended Delaware Valley, so I've relied heavily on photos from other sources, including its own web site. The gates open on Wednesday, Sept. 2.

A look at the list of bands appearing at each of the previous Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festivals confirms the history of this festival presented by the Brandywine Friends of Old-Time Music

Red Wine

Red Wine is an Italian band familiar to regular attendees at IBMA's World of Bluegrass where the band has showcased and members Martino Cappo and Silvio Faretti are regular attendees. The band is lively and fun as it brings a European flavor to wherever it appears. If you haven't seen this band, be sure to see them here.

Rebecca Frazier and Hit & Run

For years women have received short shrift as lead guitar players even while they have begun to gain greater recognition on other instruments. Rebecca Frazier is not only a fine singer, but a very good flat picker. 

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys

Steve Riley & the Mamou Playboys are a Cajun band straight out of Lousiana playing 1990's style Cajun, accordion and all. Filled with energy and life, they're a perfect fit for a change of pace in any bluegrass festival. There's never an argument about whether or not they're a bluegrass band. They're exactly what they claim to be, and you're truly an old curmudgeon if your feet don't start tapping about three bars in. The band is very popular in festival dance tents as well as from the main stage.

The Gibson Brothers

The Gibson Brothers have twice been named IBMA Entertainer of the Year and are nominated again this year. No other band besides Dailey & Vincent and the Del McCoury Band has ever been so-named more than twice. Distinguished by their brother harmonies, song writing, un-rehearsed banter, and simultaneous reverence for the past coupled with contemporary topics and commentary in their lyrics, the Gibson Brothers set a standard for up-to-date traditionalism that's unprecedented. 

Hot Rize with Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers (one set)

Hot Rize was founded in 1978, becoming a major touring band through the eighties and then disbanding after the death of guitarist Charles Sawtelle in 1999. After a period of grieving, the band, using various men on guitar, made occasional appearances. They are currently touring after the release of their first new recording When I'm Free since 1990. They are currently a nominee for IBMA Entertainer of the Year. If they should win, they would have the distinction of being the the first and the reigning Entertainer of the Year. Bryan Sutton. on guitar, has joined Tim O'Brien, Pete Wernick, and Nick Forster in this distinguished and historic band. They are touring with their alter ego band Red Knuckles & the Trailblazers. Enjoy this all too rare opportunity!

Red Knuckles

Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice

Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice are, arguably, the foremost practitioners of traditional bluegrass as it was practiced by the early bands and then reproduced by the Johnson Mountain Boys, which, Junior Claims was the seed band for his love of traditionalism. His song selection, strong on "getting even" stories and Stanley Brothers songs is delivered with sly good humor and plenty of heart. Junior is one of the best. 

David Holt & Josh Goforth

We've known and watched both David Holt and Josh Goforth for years. David, during the years we attended Merlefest, was the voice traditional mountain music on a variety of old-time instruments. Josh, who plays a hillbilly country fiddler in the film Songcatcher, sings with a clear tenor voice and is a wonderful instrumentalist on both fiddle and guitar. He plays with bluegrass band Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, but is known worldwide for his many years of touring with Holt. We're eager to see this show for the first time. 

Sierra Hull

Sierra Hull is touring in support of her new soon to be released CD featuring her singing and songwriting. Playing her mandolin, as well as mandola and mandocello, in a newly mature, jazz inflected style that shows her breaking out of her familiar musical structures in bluegrass, her performance is mostly as a duo with bass player Ethan Jodziewicz, along with the support of Justin Moses on banjo and guitar. The music examines many of the inner workings of Hull as a person and musician. 
Blue Highway
Wayne Taylor

Blue Highway has been together for over twenty years without any but one brief change in personnel, quickly reversed. Through this time they have developed a characteristic sound based on songs written from within the band by Tim Stafford, Shawn Lane, and Wayne Taylor. Their music is infused with Rob Ickes elegant yet fiery multi-award winning Dobro as well as star turns from everyone else. From wonderful a capella gospel quartets to wall of sound songs, this is an historic contemporary band which finds the ancient tones and surrounds them with a modern sensibility. 

Rob Ickes

Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives (one set)

Marty Stuart began to tour with Lester Flatt at age fourteen, a young, Mississippi prodigy. Since then, he has had a storied career, playing and singing with Johnny Cash and Travis Tritt as well as  his own country albums. Later in his career he returned to his first love, bluegrass as well as forging a career on television with The Mary Stuart Show. His performances with the wonderfully ironically named band The Fabulous Superlatives are filled with both country and bluegrass music as well as a healthy diet of gospel, all reflecting his Mississippi roots and musical breadth. Stuart is also noted as a collector of country music memorabilia and as a photographer of rare sensitivity. Marty Stuart made his debut at Delaware Valley in 1972 with Lester Flatt.

Marty Stuart & Handsome Harry Stinson

Sunday (All Performers one set)
With Labor Day following on Monday, there's no excuse for people attending Del Val to leave without staying for the day's fine performances, culminating with Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver followed by Sister Sadie. Look at what you might miss if you packed it in:

CabGrass (from Cab Calloway School of the Arts)

Cab Calloway School of the Arts is a Wilmington, Delaware public school with a mission to provide solid academic training with a strong arts program in music, art, dance, and theater. The school had a 100% graduation rate with 89% attending four year colleges in 2014. CabGrass is led Steve Field, a faculty member at the School and first director of the Kids' Academy at Delaware Valley. This will be the fourth year they have performed at Delaware Valley. 

Kid's Academy Showcase

Tater Patch

Tater Patch is an old-time band closely related to the Del Val festival. 

Dan Paisley & the Southern Grass

Danny Paisley comes from nearby southeastern Chester County, PA where he was nurtured in his father's well-regarded bluegrass band, just as his son Ryan is following in this bluegrass family's footsteps. Along with Junior Sisk, Paisley is one of the foremost practitioners of an older style of bluegrass which benefits from his preservation of it. You can count on high lonesome staying around in an authentic guise while he continues to perform.

Ryan Paisley

Jim Hurst

Jim Hurst is not only recognized as a fine guitarist, as attested to by his twice having been named IBMA Guitar Player of the Year, he's a courageous man of principle. After several years playing with the Claire Lynch Band as well as a couple of years on the road with Missy Raines, he decided he wanted to perform as a solo act while continuing to appear at bluegrass festivals and recording. Jim accomplishes things on a guitar that make one wonder whether there isn't an accompanist hiding in the wings. He's also a fine workshopper. 

Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver

More than fifty years on the road have not diminished this Hall of Famer's enthusiasm for performing nor spreading the Gospel. Doyle's current band continues to impress with a collection of able young musicians. History says that Quicksilver has been a nesting place for young musicians to develop before flying off on their own. The list is nearly endless, with Jamie Dailey perhaps at the head. Some may say that Doyle has mellowed, but his reputation for maintaining his standard while nurturing young musicians remains undimmed. 
Sister Sadie

Sister Sadie is, simply, a terrific band. Five women, four great singers, one of the best fiddlers on the planet, the rest all first rate instrumentalists, including Dale Ann Bradley, five time IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year.  Because each member of Sister Sadie plays in other bands and frequently on other projects, it's too rare that bluegrass fans get to see this Super-group, for that's what they are, in performance. You owe it to yourself to stay and hear these bands.

Other Opportunities at Delaware Valley

The Kids' Academy - The Del Val Kids' Academy is directed by Ira Gitlin, well-known as both a performer and a music educator, and an experienced staff. Open the young people ages 6 - 18 at all levels of experience, the program is carefully structured for teaching, learning, and enjoyment. There are sufficient meetings to provide a worthwhile experience, while allowing for plenty of time for kids to pursue other interests. There's a $25.00 registration fee to help pay for the staff and additional resources. A pre-registration form and further explanation of requirements can be found here.

Wernick Method Jam Class - Heidi Olsen will be teaching a six hour, three session Wernick Method Jam Class at Del Val designed for novice players or those new to bluegrass jamming. Heidi is a patient teacher and friendly presence in a jam setting, creating a positive learning environment. The cost is $65.00 pre-registration or $75.00 at the gate. Individuals can also attend single sessions. For further information about the theory and process of jam classes, click here

Heidi Olsen

Children's Stage (at the  Musical Petting Zoo) - Between 1:00 and 5:00 PM on Friday and Saturday the Children's Stage presents two alternating acts each day. A comic jugglar and and a singer of children's songs will alternate on Friday, and a musician on Saturday. This should be a good alternative for itchy kids and children of all ages. 

Todd Crowley (Friday & Saturday

Michael Rosman - Friday

Chris Capehart - Saturday

Jam Central Station - Delaware Valley has added a place for novice jammers to meet together to jam. This opportunity has been added at the request of a former Wernick Method student.  

Closgging Workshop - A Clogging Workshop will be offered by Fiddlekicks at 3:00 P.M. on both Friday and Saturday, 


The Details
Tickets: You can order tickets online here, or purchase them at the gate. 
Early Bird Tickets Until September 1, 201

$85 Adult
$75 Senior (ages 62 and up)
$45 Student (ages 12-16)

At the Gate:
$95 Adult
$85 Senior (ages 62 and up)
$50 Student (ages 12-16)
Friday (single day):
$50 Adult
$45 Senior (ages 62 and up)
$30 Student (ages 12-16) 

Saturday (single day):
$50 Adult
$45 Senior (ages 62 and up)
$30 Student (ages 12-16)
Sunday (single day):
$40 Adult
$35 Senior (ages 62 and up)
$20 Student (ages 12-16)

Accommodations: A number of lodging possibilities are available, either camping at the Salem County Fairgrounds or nearby campgrounds or staying at local hotel/motels. The fairgrounds are also within a convenient day-trip distance to people living in the Wilmington and Philadelphia suburbs. 

Camping on the Salem County Fairgrounds is "in the rough" camping with little shade, no water or electric (with a few exceptions administered by the Fairgrounds) and a number of restrictions

There is other camping available for campers whose needs differ from the choices offered by the Fairgrounds. Four Seasons Family Campground, a full service commercial campground is seven miles away. Parvin State Park is twenty miles away. It offers limited services with a standpipe nearby, and a shower/flush toilet facility available. Old Cedar Campground is a full service campground thirteen miles from the Fairgrounds. We'll be staying at Four Seasons because of our need for electricity and our traveling with a pet as well as its proximity to the festival. There are also a number of motels located in the area

Other relevant information is presented on the Festival Web site responding to needs, restrictions placed by the management of Salem County Fairgrounds, and the needs of the site. 

How to Get to the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival
Place Your Location in the "o" and Click
for a Personalized Map

Marty Stuart & Ryan Paisley
Closing the Circle
Photo by Frank Baker

Since I've never been to Delaware Valley before, I relied heavily on their new website to garner information about the festival. The new site was designed by Lisa Jacobi of Playing on the Planet, who did wonderful and useful work.