Friday, June 28, 2019

Green Mountain Bluegrass Festival - Preview

The Green Mountain Bluegrass & Roots Festival kicks off its second season at Hunter Park in Manchester VT for a four day run from August 15 - 19, 2019 with a strong lineup featuring Sam Bush, Darrell Scott, Mandolin Orange, Town Mountain, Chatham County Line. Donna the Buffalo, Mipso and many more. Featuring a main stage and a dance stage along with numerous vendors and plenty of camping space, this bluegrass, Americana, folk, and roots festival has something to please and delight fans across the broad spectrum of Amercan music. Located in the lush mountains of Southern Vermont in mid-August, the chances of good weather are high. Average August temperatures in Manchester feature a highs of 77, lows of 52, with 8 days of rain.  Check out all the entertainers and be sure to come to see and stay to luxuriate in the intimate, warm climate promoters Jill and John Turpin have created for music lovers.

The Lineup

One feature of this festival is that many of the artists will appear in varying configurations as part of or as guests of other groups, meaning you're likely to experience some pleasant surprises. The headliners will draw crowds, while the new voices and surprises will continue throughout the days and evenings of this event. Sunday's interesting, expanded program is focused around Mandolin Orange, with reunion performances by many people who have worked with the band. Plan to attend all four days. 

Sam Bush

After some health problems this Spring, Sam is on the mend and we look forward to seeing him and his band perform at Green Mountain. Sam's accomplishments in bluegrass are so pervasive and important, it's hard to encompass them in a short introduction. To meet him up close, listen to this podcast with Craig Havighurst. His influence on American music over the past generation puts Sam Bush in a class by himself. 
Sam Bush - Girl from the North Country

Darrell Scott

One of the  most influential singer/songwriters of this era, Darrell Scott is also one of its most dynamic performers. His song, "You Can't Leave Harlan Alive" has been covered by some of the greatest singers in music, capturing his haunting lyrics and melodies along with his deep conviction, which comes through in everything he does. I chose one of my favorite Darrell Scott songs to share, because it's so evocative of an era and the adolescent experience. 

Darrel Scott - Helen of Troy, Pennsylvania (Audio)

Mandolin Orange

Mandolin Orange is Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz, a North Carolina duo whose haunting music and original vibe offer evocative, melodic word pictures capturing the imagination. Their tour this summer, ranging from California to Denmark suggests the breadth of their appeal, Red Line Roots wrote in No Depression, "The voices of Andrew Marlin and Emily Frantz were seemingly destined to make music and beautiful sounds together in harmony. Like finding that final puzzle piece under the couch cushions that completes the image you have been seeking out for what seems like forever, the music they make is nothing short of perfection." Sunday's lineup is devoted to this band including its present and former members as well as collaborators. 

Mandolin Orange - Into the Sun

Town Mountain

The name says it all: Town Mountain. When bluegrass music left the mountains where it originated, migrating into the towns where recording companies and radio stations worked their magic, the music became more widespread and began to change. So, Town Mountain has brought a mountain heritage to the ever-widening world of Americana music. Garrett K. Woodman, writing in Rolling Stone, said, "The Ashville, North Carolina, quintet is a rapidly-rising string ensemble, despite being more rock & roll than bluegrass and more honky-tonk than country." Look for a bluegrass experience stretching your vision of what bluegrass is. 

Town Mountain - New Freedom Blues
Photo: David Simchock

Donna the Buffalo

Originating in Trumansburg, NY in 1989, Donna the Buffalo has been a pioneering eclectic Americana band for nearly thirty years, attracting a mellow counter-culture crowd at roots venues across the country. We've seen them work (and play) at Merlefest and Suwannee SpringFest. They draw strong off-stage crowds to their camping area for non-scheduled music and fun. Co-founder Jeb Puryear writes, “Successes? We have certainly tried to make a difference in the world, trying to inspire ourselves and others to treat their lives as a work of art, and our collective destiny as something that we are creating, not just something we are subject to.  And at the same time we’re having a blast, who wouldn’t want to ride around on a bus playing music with their friends?”

Donna the Buffalo - I Love My Tribe

Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld

Montana-based Martha Scanlan, toured with the Reel Time Travellers, who appeared on the Cold Mountain sound track in 2003. She has toured with Oregon based Jon Neufeld, who is her long-term producer and accompanist, with an active tour in 2019. 

Martha Scanlan & Jon Neufeld - Little Bird of Heaven


Originating in Chapel Hill, the home of the University of North Carolina and one of the hippest places on earth, Mipso captures the smooth sophisitication of the University Triangle as well as the rural vibe permeating much of the state. We first saw Mipso at IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) in Raleigh in 2014, when they were a featured showcase band. Their music has progressed and mataured in the succeeding five years. as they have widened their world and their reach. 
Mipso - Monteray County

Lonesome Ace Stringband

The Lonesome Ace Stringband breathes new air into Gogi Grant's 1956 "TheWayward Wind" in the video below, recorded in Germany. Perhaps this is a metaphor for their story. Just returned from a trip to Germany, Denmark, and Switzerland, the band will appear during the summer at major events here at home before embarking for a tour of the United Kingdom in the Fall. Three Canadian musicians bringing an old time and bluegrass sensibility with bluegrass instrumental skills into the wider folk and Americana world have much to offer in a number of forward-looking settings. Apparently, ten years as the house band in Toronto's Dakota Tavern before ever recording has had the desired effect. 

Lonesome Ace Stringband - The Wayward Wind

Chatham County Line

Beginning life as a country/rock band, Chatham County Line, from North Carolina, soon discovered their calling as they morphed into a bluegrass band with major pop, country, rock influences. According to singer/guitarist Dave Wilson, "We thought we were kind of a traditional band as far as instrumentation.” But Wilson says they only got away with that for a short while after their eponymous 2003 debut, on a quest to find their own voice. ”We’re rock and roll kids, and we came to it for the love of the genre and the style of performing.” He insists that nobody who knew bluegrass ever thought they were a ‘grass band. “We’re kind of an Americana band without drums, or a rock and roll band who doesn’t plug anything in.” Wilson's description may stand as a template for the development of many emerging Americana bands as they seek and find their own unique place. 

Chatham County Line - The Carolinian

Danny Barnes, Grand Gordy, Joe K. Walsh

Take three noted instrumentalists, each recognized for their individual accomplishments in music, put them together, and see what develops. It might sound like Barnes, Gordy, and Walsh. Danny Barnes, winner of the 2015 Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, perhaps the most important and certainly the most lucrative award for a banjo master, Barnes takes the banjo to places you never quite imagined it might travel. Grant Gordy has played guitar with an A+ list of noted bluegrass and Americana artists, including six years with the David Grisman Quintet, from his home base in Brooklyn as a live performer and session musician. Joe K. Walsh, mandolin wizard, gained early national recognition with Joy Kills Sorrow and The Gibson Brothers, before heading for a faculty position at the Berklee College of Music, as well as stints with a variety of progressive bands. Together, they tour as the Danny Barnes Trio. 

Danny Barnes Trio - Get It While You Can

Phillips, Grier and Flinner

Three remarkable instrumentalists whose individual reputations as solists and side musicians keep them always busy as session musicians and as traveling side-men who can fill in with any kind of band at a moment's notice. Todd Phillips, known since the 1970's for his work with the storied Bluegrass Album Band through his stint with the David Grisman Quintet, he's established himself as one of the most versatile bassists anywhere. David Grier, son of Lamar Grier, who played banjo for Bill Monroe for  many years, played bluegrass with Country Gazette and the Doug Dillard band for many years before branching in Pyschograss with Darrel Anger and Mike Marshall. He is also know for his instructional materials and solo concert performances as well as recognized by Fretboard Magazine as one the ten most influential guitarists of the 90's and three time IBMA Guitar Player of the Year. The list of fine bands Matt Flinner has played with is way too long to list here. Matt won instrumental national championships at Walnut Valley on both banjo and mandolin. Jazz times commented, "Flinner continues his reign as perhaps the most exciting and creative mandolin player on the scene today."  How can you beat these three for their accomplishments in accoustic music?

Phillips, Grier & Flinner - Nine Pound Hammer

John Reischman & Eli West

John Reischman is, perhaps, best known as the leader the Vancoever-based John Reischman and Jaybirds, a leading west coast progressive bluegrass band, but has been at the forefront of bluegrass and progressive roots music since his days with the Tony Rice Unit during the 1970's. He's been a winner of a Grammy Award and a Juno, the Canadian equivalent. Eli West has toured with a varity of artists, mostly on guitar accompaniest. West is relatively little known, but a podcast in Fretboard Journal provides plenty of insight into this elusive musician: Eli West Podcast on Fretboard JournalEli west is a shy, but articulate,  musician from the from Puget Sound area near Seattle. Influenced by Tony Rice as a teenager, West has moved from progressive towards more traditional, eclectic sounds working with what he found. He talks about reinventing rather than recreating. West has toured widely and recorded with Cahallen Morrison. He talks about giving up job security for the geographic promiscuity of the traveling musicians life.  He describes his lifestyle as “weird” and “non-traditional.” He performs largely in house concerts, bars, and festivals, where he tends to specialize in instrumental music, playing both acoustic and electric guitar.

Reichsman & West - Brick in the Road

Molsky's Mountain Drifters

Bruce Molksy currently is a visiting scholar in the Roots Music Program at Berklee College of Music. He is best known as a multi-instrumentalist specializing in old-time music. With his band, the Mountain Drifters including Berklee alums Allison deGroot and Stash Wyslouch, they appear at folk and roots events as well as instrument camps around the country. Molsky has also produced recordings by major artists like Joe Walsh, April Verch, and Mark Simos. 

Molsky's Mountain Drifters - Across the Plains of Illinois

Jordan Tice

Ten years ago Jordan Tice released a guitar album which attracted attention and acclaim. Since then he has forged a career as both a band leader and an able side man on the progressive side of bluegrass music. His mellow baritone voice and rich guitar stylings have shown he impresses either as a side man or as a band leader. There's no substitute for talent and versatility. 

Tice, Kowert & Haas in California

Lonely Heartstring Band

Green Mountain may be one of your last chances to see the wonderful Lonely Heartstring Band, which has succeeded beyond the members' wildest imaginations when they emerged about five years ago as a Beatles cover band. These five Boston-centered musicians have decided to disband, heading in their own directions. Their combination of peerless musicianship and thoughtfully conceived originals as well as rock music adaptations for bluegrass band have energized many young, new bluegrass bands coming behind them. 

Lonely Heartstring Band - The Road's Salvation

Rayna Gellert & Kieran Kane

A former member of the Freight Hoppers and pioneering all-woman band Uncle Earl, Rayna Gellert has been well know in traditional fiddle circles for some years. She was also a label-mate of mine as a columnist in No Depression.  Kieran Kane is known to Gibson Brothers fans as the co-writer of the iconic "One Raindrop," but has had a long careers as a member of touring band the O'Kanes as well as a solo career. The blend of these two voices evokes combinations of country and old time which will evoke memories of a time long gone.....

Kieran Kane & Rayna Gellert - I Don't Know Why


Hawktail is a superband consisting of Brittany Haas, Jordan Tice, Paul Kowert, and Dominick Leslie, each well known in their own right, coming together to create a unique, often haunting sound. Brittany Haas explained how the band came together to Jon Weisberger in The Bluegrass Situation, "Well, for me, it kind of came about because of our long musical friendship. At the time that we started being a trio officially, we’d been friends for maybe six years or so, who just played for fun when we had time. But then I was getting a little bit more free because Crooked Still was slowing down, so I thought, I need something new to fill the time. And I’d always loved making music with these guys. So that was the impetus of it for me. But the longer that it goes on, and the deeper we get into it, the more it’s just a really cool creative outlet, and one that I learn a lot from, because it pushes me in different ways than the other projects." Hawktail only plays in a few festivals, so don't miss this opportunity. 

Hawktail - In the Kitchen

Christian Sedelmyer

Fiddler Christian Sedelmyer will appear at Green Mountain as a solo act. Craig Havighurst has written about him, "Otherworldly fiddle. He goes to some daring places, and the whole band is better for it" Here he is with frequent collaborator Rachel Baiman playing a John Hartford Song. 

Christian Sedelmyer - Out On the River 

Dead Horses

Sarah Vos, lead singer of Dead Horses grew up in a fundamentalist Lutheran community where her Dad was the pastor. When they were ex-communicated her life and and experiences led her into new directions and outlets, which have produced the haunting, searching quality of their music. Known as a duo, with bassist Daniel Wolf, the Milwaukee-based band can be soul seering and inspirational. 

Dead Horses - Golden Sky

Twisted Pine

Twisted Pine has experienced some personnel changes in recent months while retaining its driving and experimental sound driven by Kathleen Parks' lilting vocals and Dan Bui's inventive mandolin play. This band has been characterized by exciting covers from across of range of genre's translated into a string band aggregation exhibiting an adventurous and exciting musical spirit. Stay with them as they continue to develop. 

Twisted Pine - Bound To Do It Right

Andrew Marlin

Andrew Marlin, who will also be featured with Mandolin Orange during this festival, will present a solo performance on his Gilchrist mandolin featuring work from his new solo album Buried in a Cape. Writing about this new effort, Marlin says, "I love instrumentals. One of the ways I learned how to play mandolin was by learning old fiddle tunes. And I love Bill Monroe's instrumentals, too. He's one of the best examples of someone who can write really great vocal tunes yet understands instrumental fiddle music well enough to create all these great instrumentals on the mandolin as well. So that's something over the years that I've been really interested in trying to get better at. I had all these tunes built up that I'd been working on over the years and I was able to put together the right crew for it, so we went to Nashville and recorded it all in three days." 

Andrew Marlin - The Jaybird

Beg, Steal or Borrow

Winner of the 2017 Podunk Band Contest and the 2018 Thomas Point Beach Contest, Beg, Steal, or Borrow is a rising and innovative bluegrass band based in Vermont and deserving much wider attention than it has so far received. This year will see them playing major venues, mostly in New England. You'll enjoy this band, returning to Green Mountain for a second consecutive year. 

Beg, Steal, or Borrow - Wild Horses

Rachel Baiman

Rachel Baiman's record label, Free Dirt Records, comments about her new recording Shame, "In many ways, Shame, the new album from 27-year-old Nashville Americana songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Rachel Baiman, is an exploration of growing up female in America. “I wasn't necessarily trying to write songs that would be easy to listen to,” Baiman says of the project. “I wanted to write about reality, in all of its terror and beauty.” Listed by Rolling Stone as one of ten artists you should know, this is part of what they had to say, "Sounds Like: Woody Guthrie’s social consciousness, Alison Krauss’s fiddle, and Emmylou Harris’s vocal shimmer sharing a brown-bag singalong around a hobo fire." Sounds like quite a package!

Rachel Baiman - Something to Lose

Sunny War

A video on YouTube uploaded eight years ago describes Sunny War as "...Amazing Venice Beach homeless girl on beach." Eight years and almost nine million plays later, she's come a long way. Described as a punk-blues singer, War probably defies easy categorization, but her singing is smoky and moving. Be sure to hear her in her sets at Green Mountain......

Sunny War - Gotta Live It

Lula Wiles

Lula Wiles "The trio of Isa Burke, Eleanor Buckland, and Mali Obomsawin was founded around the fiddle, their journey beginning as teens at fiddle camp in their native Maine" according to Cillia Houghton's Spotlight article in No Depression. They came together again at Berklee College of Music in Boston, where they fashioned their unique socially conscious vibe and exciting presence. They're lively, tuneful, and throught provoking. 

Lula Wiles - Nashville Man

Green Mountain Playboys

The Green Mountain Playboys, a relatively new Cajun band based in Vermont, have become an increasingly visible band from their home in Montpelier, VT where they came together as a band, performing regularly at a local pub. They strive to maintain an authentic Cajun sound while having spent considerable time in Lousiana and Quebec province. It's hard for those hearing Cajun music to keep their feet still, so expect a good deal of dancing while listening to this lilting Cajun band. 

The Green Mountain Playboys - LaCassine Special

The Brother Brothers

Twin Brothers David and Adam Moss, The Brother Brothers, began their musical lives as solo performers and sidemen, but discovered their own particular sound when they came together as a duo. A reviewer in Pop Matters commented, "Gentle in pace and performance, the Mosses have ample space to glide through beautiful, harmonic melodies, as they do. All-in-all it does what they do best, presenting the musical power in weaving their stories and songs with subtlety." Their music was shaped and honed in the bas scene in New York City, where they come from, but carries a universal contemplative and melodic musical sound that sweeps a listener away. “I just want people to listen to it once and want to listen to it again,” David says of the album. “And every time they listen to it, I want them to find something new and in some way relate it to themselves. Whether they're listening to it today or in 40 years, I hope it will make them feel just the same.”

The Brother Brothers - Frankie

Bobby Britt

Bobby Britt is a North Carolina-based fiddler, classically trained in Suzuki method from age five until age thirteen, when he discovered bluegrass, old-time, and traditional music. He tours regularly as a member of Town Mountain, but has also toured internationally with Joe Walsh and Grant Gordy as The Peregrines in addition to major international tours with Town Mountain. He is available for fiddle lessons on Skype and was nominated for an IBMA Momentum Award. 

Bobby Britt - Out of the Woods

Josh Oliver

Josh Oliver who often tours with Mandolin Orange also has a solo career on guitar. East TN native Josh Oliver has spent the past five years as a side man, touring all over the United States, singing harmony, playing lead guitar and piano with the likes of the Everybodyfields, Sam Quinn + Japan 10, Jill Andrews, and Mandolin Orange.  With his debut album, Troubles, he takes a stab at being out front. The album features both original and traditional material, including a unique take on Townes Van Zandt's, "White Freightliner Blues," and a mournful rendering of the Carter Family tune, "I Never Will Marry." The album features Oliver on lead vocals, guitar, and keys, as well as familiar faces Brandon Story on upright bass, Megan Gregory on fiddle and vocals, and Sam Quinn on harmony vocals. Troubles, a warm and inviting collection of songs, harkens back to a simpler time, whether it's through the contemporary renderings of traditionals or the traditional style of Oliver's self-penned tunes. This album, from start to finish, is a piece of classic, easy Americana. (from reverb nation)

Josh Oliver - It Ain't Over 'Til It's Over

Terrible Mountain String Band
Photo by Nancy Nuttle

Founded in 2017, Terrible Mountain Stringband sings in traditional Cajun and Irish dance tunes often heard at Caelies in Canada and the far northeast. According to their Facebook page, "Terrible Mountain String Band is Lila and Ida Mae Specker on twin fiddles and Josh Norman on guitar and percussion. Carrying on the legacy of their forefathers, the band pays homage to the past while continuously evolving their unique sound. At its core the group is built on a solid commitment to having fun and to family." Members of the band come from Vermont and New York.

Terrible Mountain Stringband - Been All Around This World (Live)

The Details:

Tickets: The festival grounds open on Thursday August 15 at Noon and close on Sunday, August 15 at 8:00 PM. Pre-sale four day pass costs $135.00, while tickets at the gate are $145.00 for a four day pass. Day tickets cost $40.00, including vehicle or RV. You can buy a weekend pass online here

Where: The Green Mountain Bluegrass & Roots festival is held at Hunter Park (410 Hunter Park Road) in Manchester Center, VT. Manchester is a major year-round tourist destination featuring skiing at several resorts in winter as well as golf, and general tourism year-round, including equestrian events, extensive shopping, great restaurants, and more. In addition to camping on the site, there are numerous accomodations in the vicinity, including luxury hotels to campgrounds and motels. How to get to Hunter Park:

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Hunter Park Map for Green Mountain Bluegrass & Roots Festival:

Kid Friendly: This is a family event with plenty of kid friendly activities to keep children interested and active while you can get away to enjoy the music. 

Alcohol - Wine and craft beers will be available on the grounds. Please do not bring outside supplies.

Camping and Accomodations: There is rough camping available on site, including an RV area where generators can be used, a quiet camping area, and a tent area with no vehicle access. People wishing to camp, but not posessing appropriate gear can arrange with Base Camp Gear Rentals for a seamless experience. Porta-Potties are available on the grounds, while flush toilets and showers are available in the adjacent Riley Rink. Numerous other accomodations are available in town and the surrounding area, from Bed and Breakfasts to luxury condos. I found numerous AirBnB and VRBO accomodations available for this year's festival dates.

Questions: If you have other questions about the festival, you can ask by email - or call 802-824-3575. Also check out its Facebook Page.

Promoters Jill & John Turpin Tell the Green Mountain Bluegrass & Roots Story

The Green Mountain Bluegrass & Roots Festival is the right event in the right place, convenient to music lovers from the New York metropolitan area to Boston. We look foward to seeing old friends from bluegrass festivals and meeting new ones from a broader range of American music. See you there!