Dispatch from Common Ground’s bluegrass camp: Don’t you dare call it fantasy camp

Despite what you might have thought, Westminster is not in Western Maryland. It’s located sort of northwest of Baltimore and northeast of Frederick in some beautiful rolling hills. That fact was finally grudgingly acknowledged by the local institute if higher learning in 2002 when, after calling itself Western Maryland College for 135 years, it became McDaniel College. Istanbul, Constantinople, either way it was a beautiful place to visit, or at least it looked that way[…]

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Dispatch from Smoked Country Jam: Another fine adventure in the mountains

Our Smoked Country Jam experience was a little different in a number of ways this year. Last year, our first visit to Ron Kodish’s sweet little hootenanny in the hills, we just made a day trip out of it. We decided before we even started our drive home that night that this year’s stay would be longer. Our plan was to go for all three days of the event. Outside factors, like the need to[…]

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Dispatch from NEPA, where mountain music and the Endless Mountains combined for a fine weekend

You know you are headed the right way for good bluegrass music when you pass a sign like we did a few miles from the site of the NEPA Bluegrass Festival. The sign was an advertisement for the local volunteer fire company’s big summer fundraising event. Some fire companies hold a carnival. Not these folks. The sign advertised their upcoming “Rattlesnake Roundup.” You see a sign like that, you know you are in the mountains.[…]

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Dispatch from DelFest: Nobody was resting on Sunday, including the rain

The emcee was on his way. He was doing double duty, covering two stages, so he may have been tied up over at the Potomac when Serene Green was ready to hit the stage in the Music Hall next door. Or maybe his watch was slow, or whomever’s Serene was going by was fast. For sure they were not in sync. We didn’t bother to check to see what time it was when the boys[…]

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Dispatch from DelFest, where, for some, dreams came true on Saturday

A lot of folks got up festival early to come out and see The Jakobs Ferry Stragglers and The Plate Scrapers on Saturday morning. Festival early is a term we think we just made up. It is inspired by the phrase “hiker midnight,” which Appalachian Trail hikers will tell you is 9 p.m. That is late at night if you walked 10 miles the day before and plan to do it again the next day.[…]

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Dispatch from DelFest, where Bloody Mary mornings turn into red hot Friday nights

Even though he is a Grand Ole Opry member, enshrined in every hall of fame that exists for the music he plays, and widely acknowledged as the reigning king of bluegrass, it seems like Del McCoury is still surprised by his success. Friday evening he stepped on to the stage and his eyes got wide as he looked out and saw the crowd gathered for the festival he hosts. His smile got wide, too. It[…]

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Dispatch from DelFest: 2019 edition of Memorial Day weekend classic off to fine start

DelFest 2019 started a day early this year, at least for us. We rolled into Cumberland on Wednesday in time to get to DelFest Academy in time for Bluegrass Karaoke, one of the highlights of the three-day, pre-festival, music camp for all ages that Rob McCoury’s wife, Lisa, runs each year. Bluegrass Karaoke is the final event of the academy, save the Thursday night opportunity for the Academy’s band scramble winners to play a song[…]

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Artists say a chance to pick with their friends makes DelFest special

For many music lovers, some of the highlights of festivals are always the sit-ins. It’s fun to see different artists collaborate musically. And it turns out, the musicians like it, too. Matter of fact, many of them say their favorite thing about DelFest is getting to pick with friends. That is especially the case for Ronnie McCoury, who says his best memories of DelFest over the years have been those chances to play music with[…]

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Sam Bush’s DelFest memory: Seeking shelter from the storm

Sam Bush won’t be making it to DelFest this year. The mandolin monster is recuperating from abdominal surgery and had to bow out. Before that happened, though, we had a chance to talk with Sam for another pre-DelFest preview. We were talking about DelFest memories when he shared this story. It was headed for the written equivalent of the cutting room floor when a friend made a Facebook post reminding people not to be overly[…]

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