Festivals To Keep Away The Blues
Are you dreaming about summer festivals yet? No need to wait so long!
New Year's Eve
Have you made
your plans for New Year's Eve yet? There's some fine
music to be
heard at the Oil City First Night celebration this year. A
reason for not staying at home on New Year's Eve. Oil City is less
than a two hour drive from Pittsburgh, PA. The entire event takes place at
over a dozen different locations in town, each performer doing 4 sets
between 8pm and midnight, plenty of opportunities to take in the many
different shows and activities offered. For more details visit the Oil
City First Night facebook page at
The January Ice Jam began over 10 years ago as a way to bring
bluegrass jammers together over the winter. It attracts about 2,000 people
over the weekend for a roster of top-notch pickers and strummers.
The event commences around the 2nd weekend in January at the Days Inn, Route 8, in Butler. The
hotel has a full service restaurant, and the facility is smoke-free.
Admission is free, but donations are accepted to benefit the Bluegrass
Relief Fund and WYEP radio in support of bluegrass.
Groundhog Day Celebration, Gobbler's Knob,
it's not clear to me why there isn't a solid presence of Old Time fiddle
and banjo music at this event (see my
article on weather) there is much to be entertained by at this very
important Appalachian celebration. Concerts, storytelling, magic,
comedians, flea circus, medicine show, art, crafts, pancake breakfast, and
souvenirs are regular features of the three day event. Special features
include: Showing of the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray, Induction
of the 2nd member at the Meteorologist Hall of Fame, Exotic Bubble Tea
Party, Crowning of Groundhog King and Queen, and The Prognosticators
Ball. For the complete schedule and directions, visit
the festival home page at:
Gardner Winter Music Festival is just the thing to get an early start into
some good jamming, workshops, concerts and more. The
event is held late February in Morgantown, West Virginia. There is usually jamming and
socializing at South Middle School beginning 6 PM Friday evening, Saturday
events also include workshop demonstrations, stage performances and an
evening dance. For the complete schedule and directions, visit
the festival home page at:
Folk College at Juniata
Folk College is a fun weekend of playing and hearing folk
music. Pack up your instrument (or voice) and head for Juniata College for
a weekend full of workshops, jam sessions, concerts, and group playing.
The event is designed for musicians with eclectic tastes. Within one
weekend, you'll have a choice of workshops ranging from old-timey to
celtic to international, and you'll get to sing, dance, play, and listen.
Musicians of all instruments and levels are welcome, and there are also
choices for non-musicians who want to listen, learn, and experiment with
folk music. Plus, school teachers in Pennsylvania will receive Act 48
This will be a real college experience. All events are
held in college classrooms, and you'll have the option of staying in a
dorm room and eating in the university's dining hall. We hope you'll join
us for a weekend of good times and great music!
Among the many varieties of folk music there you will find
a number of workshops featuring Pennsylvania fiddle tunes.
Juniata College is a beautiful setting in Huntingdon PA, nestled in the
Allegheny Mountains of Central Pennsylvania.
Juniata Folk College
Sponsored by the Huntingdon County Arts Council.
For registration information,
contact: e-mail: email@example.com
Phone: (814) 643-6220
Three women plus twelve instruments equals one good time with Simple
Gifts. This award-winning trio plays everything from lively Irish jigs and
down-home American reels to hard-driving Klezmer
frailachs and haunting
Gypsy melodies, spicing the mix with the distinctive rhythms of Balkan
dance music, the lush sounds of Scandinavian twin fiddling, and original
compositions written in a traditional style. The group is comprised of
Rachel Hall (concertina and piano), Linda Littleton (fiddle, hammered
dulcimer, recorders, bowed psaltery), and Karen Hirshon (fiddle, guitar,
mandolin, doumbek, and more).
Based in State College and Philadelphia, PA, Simple Gifts members designed Folk College and work with the Huntingdon County Arts Council to make it a reality. They have a strong philosophy that everyone can play music, that music is best when shared, and that above all, music is about communication, not competition.
Old Time Fiddler's Convention
Mount Airy, NC
Always held the first weekend in June
Starting Friday at 7:00 pm and Saturday at 9:30 am
Veterans Memorial Park
631 West Lebanon Street
Mount Airy, North Carolina
Instrument, Dance and Music Workshops
$2075 Prize money plus ribbons to be awarded to contestants.
for contests required
RV Camping and Tent Camping
Parking room for 3000 cars
10 acres of shady woods for camping and picnicking
* Bring lawn chairs or blanket - will be held outside if weather permits *
For More Information please visit: http://www.mtairyfiddlersconvention.com/
The Henry Reed Memorial Fiddle Convention
Henry Reed Memorial Fiddler's Convention
is usually held
the second weekend in June in beautiful Newport, VA, less than 10 miles
from Blacksburg on RT 460. ( 5.5 hours drive from Pittsburgh
This festival honors the life and music of
local old-time fiddler Henry Reed. The Henry Reed Memorial Fiddlers
Convention is an official Crooked Road Affiliated Festival.
Admission is $8 per person per day on
Friday and Saturday, or $15 for the weekend. All contestants pay $15
(includes admission for the weekend) and they can get a festival t-shirt
or $10 back after they compete. No pre-registration is needed, you
The competition categories are banjo
(bluegrass and old-time), fiddle (bluegrass and old-time), guitar
(bluegrass and old-time), banjo-fiddle duet, mandolin, dulcimer, bass,
folk song, dance, bluegrass band and old-time band.
Gates open noon on Thursday, admission is
free on Thursday. Thursday-Saturday night camping is an additional $10 per
person per night (rough) and $15 per person per night (electric, limited
For additional details about the festival visit
A website dedicated to the memory of Henry Reed can be
The Appalachian Stringband Festival
also known as The
Appalachian Stringband Festival holds its annual gathering early August. Its an event well worth attending, even if only for a day,
but be prepared to get caught up in the swell of contests, concerts,
workshops, jams, and overflow of partying that will keep you till the very
end, and have you returning even earlier the next year.
I have the distinction of attending the first year in
1990, and drawing number 1 for my band The
Lackawanna Longnecks to play in the contest. Being the
first contestant is generally considered the worst possible spot to be in,
since the judges will not have any previous performance to compare you to. You
become the 'standard' for the moment until something a little
better comes along. On top of that, the microphones weren't even
turned on until we were halfway through our tune. Despite all that,
as banjo player Richard Withers pointed out, for the first four and a half
minutes of the contest, ( and maybe longer ) our band was in the lead.
the years I've come to appreciate this festival and others as a great
refuge, reunion, and rehab for my own musical interests. I respect the
contests for what they are, as they promote achievement in an area of
musical interest that has long defied the rules of commercial survival.
Sometimes the results of contests reveal a focus on the skill of winning,
rather than the art of playing, but they always manage to bring out so
many players, that the event becomes a pageant of arcane talent and experience
equal to none.
But by far, my favorite parts of the festival are visiting
friends I've made over the years, collecting tunes, and being in hot jam
sessions for as long as possible. People come from different parts of
the US, and many other countries too. Even though they say the days of
regional isolation of old time fiddle styles has passed with the
advent of recorded and broadcast music, I still perceive the local
preferences for tunes that make their way from scenes in California, North
Carolina, West Virginia, Illinois ...and so on. And when you get
right down to it, style emanates from the individual musicians. As
far as I'm concerned, maturity is evident when you become uniquely
recognizable by the way you play the most common tunes. Of course, that's
just my opinion...
The next festival on my horizon is Rockbridge
happens the weekend after Labor Day, in Buena Vista,
Va. You can check out details
with Simple Gifts
The Greenwood Furnace Folk Gathering is a weekend of music
with plenty of opportunities to share, jam, dance and learn. Musicians of
all levels as well as non-musicians who wish to listen or experiment, or
pick up a dance step or two, are invited to participate in workshops
designed and led by professional instuctors. Saturday evening’s
highlight will be a concert with Simple Gifts followed by a contradance.
View the detailed schedule for more information
Greenwood Furnace State Park is a beautiful state park
located in central PA, between State College and Huntingdon, on the
Mifflin County border.
Sponsored by the Huntingdon County Arts Council and Simple
For registration information,
contact: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: (814) 643-6220