May 23-26, 2013
Cumberland, MD at The Allegany Fairgrounds
Nestled in The Cumberland Gap alongside the Potomac River, Del McCoury hosted the 6th Annual DelFest. As in years past, Del and his son Rob and Ronnie – banjo and mandolin, respectively – would sit in with numerous of musicians for another epic weekend. DelFest is festival that first geared toward a family and friendly environment and secondly on traditional bluegrass with a twist of world music.
Unlike years in the past, the weather would cooperate for the 30,000 people that attended over the weekend. In fact this year, temperatures were much more mild with some cool nights for camping…but no thunderstorms. The unforgettable weekend would shortly begin after Del’s soundcheck with some Cajun Jam Grass from Leftover Salmon. Shortly after Salmon took stage, Del and Ronnie would join in on “Midnight Blues.” It would not take long for the crowd to get involved as Del’s high notes from his voice would wail and echo off the mountains. Ronnie would remain on the stage for “Home Cookin.’” As the temperatures would continue to drop to all time lows, Ronnie would rejoin the band for “On a Cold Southern Night.” Jason Carter, Del’s master fiddle player would play biggest part of the set. Salmon would close the night with a John Hartford classic that would get the crowd geared up for the remaining weekend in “Up On the Hill Where They Do The Boogie.”
Punk-grass quintet, Trampled By Turtles may not be your typical traditional bluegrass band but if you are open-minded and love to jam then do underestimate these guys. These guys are hard, fast and don’t treat their string instruments very well. Perhaps Elephant Revival was quite the experience Friday afternoon. There is no classification for their type of music. It’s like taking gypsy, Celtic, Alt-Country, folk and blending it together. Bonnie Paine may even surprise the audience with sounds from her musical saw or washboard.
As the sunset and temps dropped The Del McCoury Band would quit the crowd down before Trey Anastasio Band (TAB) with some good ole traditional bluegrass music. As TAB took charge it would not only be highlight for the crowd but for Trey also. Trey was having the time of his life headlining Del’s little festival and he would not hold back especially during “O-o-h Child” and “Push On Til The Day.” Trey proceeded to tell the crowd that Del McCoury’s Blue Side of Town was a huge part of Phish’s road music. After listening to that album, Trey made the comment he wished to meet Del someday. In 1999, Phish invited Del McCoury and the whole family to their festival, Camp Oswego. Del jokingly said “they invited me to their small of festival of 70,000 people.” Then, the remaining members of The Del McCoury Band would join TAB for two songs, “I’m Blue, I’m Lonesome” and “Beauty of My Dreams,” a song of Dels that Phish started covering in the late 90’s. Jennifer Hartswick would lay the trumpet down for the encore and bellow out Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” as Trey would sit back and tear up his Paul Languedoc custom electric guitar.
Saturday was an array of different genres of music starting with Grammy nominated one-woman string band, Sarah Jaroz. Jaroz can play an array of string instruments from guitar, mandolin, and octave mandolin to clawhammer banjo while being companied by Alex Hargreaves (fiddle) and Nathaniel Smith (cello). Jaroz would show off her astonishing skill set on the mandolin during “The Book of Right On” with Smith providing a deep thundering cello that would hit the pit of your stomach. Hargreaves would add some amazing breath taking fiddle. Jaroz would also play The Decemberist’s, “Shankill Butchers.” Joe Craven the formal host of the Grandstand Stage would return to DelFest with his masterful trio blending two continents together to provide music fans a taste of African and Americana music. A traditional yet innovative blend of kamale ngoni (the hunter’s harp) with a six string guitar, percussion, fiddle and mandolin to create some funky world music that will hit your soul, take you around the world without leaving the seat of your pants. Red Baraat, an eight-piece jazzy, brass-funk with a hint of hip-hop from Brooklyn, New York would provide the crowd with a hard punch of Northern Indian rhythms and sounds.
Saturday afternoon on the Grandstand Stage would get a bit crazy with an array of traditional-psychedelic bluegrass from quintet, Greensky Bluegrass. These guys sure know how to have fun but most importantly know how to get the crowd involved in every show. Keller would get a bit funky and jazzy with his most recent project in Keller Williams with More Than a Little. Keller would show off in a prestigious suit and tie yet no shoes to jam on his acoustic while being accompanied by 2 fascinating female soul singers harmonizing. As in years past Del likes to bring some star guest to the festival. This year would be some of the legendary bluegrass performers that all bluegrass fans have grown to love and respect over the last 30 years. Del would bring on stage with him The Masters of Bluegrass: Bobby Osborne, J.D. Crowe, Bobby Hicks and Jerry McCoury. Saturday night would turn into one hell of pickin’ session as Del’s band and The Masters of Bluegrass would pick to some of the finest bluegrass tunes throughout all of the land such as “I’m Going Back to Old Kentucky” or “High on The Mountains.” As if Del did not get the crowd roaring before, Old Crow Medicine Show (OCMS) sure did not hold back. Nearly 15 years ago, Doc Watson came across these guys playing in front of a pharmacy in North Carolina. Doc suggested they play at Merle Fest and 800,000 albums later the rest would be history. OCMS got loud and rowdy real quick and literally brought the roof down. Del and his band would join OCMS for “My Love Will Not Change.” OCMS would play crowd favorite such as “Tennessee Whiskey” and “Cocaine.” They would return to the stage for encore that would include Tom Petty’s “American Girl.”
Sunday included an afternoon of breaking washboards, catching washboards on fire and playing cardboard cigar boxes from Indiana’s own Reverend Peyton and The Big Dam Band. Keller and The Traveling McCourys would play classic “Candyman” and Foster The People’s, “Pump Up Kicks.” Sunday would also include flying guitars, clicking bones and southern black music from the1920’s from the Carolina Chocolate Drops. Returning to the 6th annual DelFest and closer of the Grandstage would be no other than Colorado’s very own Yonder Mountain String Band (YMSB). As in years past YMSB would not leave DelFest without providing the crowd with an array of traditional bluegrass and old time country songs. Del and the boys would join YMSB to play Vernon Dalhart’s “Prisoner Song,” the oldest country tune. They would also play Jimmy Martins’ “Hit Parade of Love.” Jason Carter and Ronnie McCoury would sit in with YMSB to jam out to another John Hartford tune “Holdin,’” followed by a 11 minute pickin’ session in a crowd pleaser, “Traffic Jam.”
DelFest is special place every Memorial Day weekend for the last 6 years. Through trial and errors over the years, Del and his family has done a tremendous job providing the Cumberland area and the Appalachians with a festival of traditional bluegrass music which has been a huge part of their culture for many generations. They not only have provided this area with their traditional bluegrass roots but they also do it for all age groups beginning with Bluegrass Workshops to the Kidzone and “ARTs BUS.” Jams Plus Media would like to Thank The Del McCoury Band, the staff of High Sierra, the fairgrounds manager, Kevin Kamauf and the city of Cumberland for allowing use to cover to special festival.