The Delaware Valley Festival is mounted each Labour Day weekend by the Brandy Wine Friends of Old Time Music. Now into its 51st year, the event is held in Woodstown NJ on the Salem County Fairground.
The main stage is covered, and there are two additional covered areas for fans.
Delaware Valley is a camping festival; they do not encourage drinking. In fact they do not sell alcohol on site.
Perhaps one of outstanding contributions the festival makes is to encourage and expose Canadian Bluegrass and traditional music. They consistently book Canadian performers, and this year’s guests were The Lonesome Ace Stingband; in the past they have showcased such acts as April Verch and Natalie McMaster.
This year’s event boasts a Cajun band, an old time act and a classic western swing band. Bluegrass festivals, generally speaking, have grown and presented themselves much like folk festivals. They are diverse, gender balanced and deeply soaked in tradition. The photo library of the event was provided by Ontario’s legendary folk photographer, Winston Booth.
Here’s who performed:
Dailey and Vincent are Jamie Dailey and Darren Vincent. They head up this sometimes-bluegrass and gospel, sometimes-southern gospel outfit. They are musically excellent, with stellar singing and matching instrumental accompaniment. They usually travel with a drummer.
Danny Paisley took over his father, Bob’s, band years back. Now it’s Danny Paisley and Southern Grass, and it includes banjo legend Ted Lundy. The band’s music is pretty much traditionally bluegrass oriented. Ryan Paisley, Dan’s son, is on mandolin. Ted’s son, TJ, is on fiddle, and his other son, Bobby, is on bass.
Traditional Cajun music at its best is offered by the Savoy Family Cajun band, featuring Marc and Ann Savoy and their sons Joel and Wilson.
The Riders in the Sky specialize in ballads, trail songs and lunacy. Ranger Doug Green, Too Slim, Woody Paul and Joey the cowpoke king rule the west.
Former members of the legendary Doyle Lawson band head up Authentic Unlimited, which does its best to recreate the Lawson sound in Bluegrass. They do not totally recapture it, but they do not loose it either. The outfit features outstanding singing and good material choices, which suit the current band members, who are Jerry Cole, Eli Johnson, Stephen Burwell and legendary Jesse Brock on mandolin and John Maedor on guitar.
Dan Tyminski has spent time being the lead singer in the Alison Krauss band and sung George Clooney’s part in Oh Brother Where Art Thou. His Dan Tyminski Band was for me the surprise of the festival. They are worth seeking out at a future event. Hopefully they put out a CD.
AJ Lee, lead singer, mandolinist and songwriter is 22. She is an accomplished performer of California style Americana music. The style of music this her Blues Summit provides is youthful, exciting, dynamic and bluegrass-based. AJ has given bluegrass wings.
Rhonda Vincent is in a category all her own. Her shows feature a kind of flawless musicianship and showmanship that I have not yet seem topped by any other bluegrass band. In many respects, she is the bluegrass answer to Dolly Parton. But then nobody can match Dolly.
The Lonesome River Band has been around for about four decades. Even though the band has changed personal over the years, the sound has remained consistent. The band truly has revolutionized bluegrass music through the mentoring of banjoist Sammy Shelor.
The Lonesome Ace Stingband, featuring Chris Coole on banjo, John Showman on fiddle and Max Malone on bass, are a Canadian acoustic trio that plays bluegrass, folk and Americana in duet, trio and solo format. The majority of their music is original, although they are no slouches when delivering traditional or contemporary cover tunes. No matter what they do, the music becomes their own. Without a doubt this band has redefined what we once called bluegrass.
Larry Sparks and The Lonesome Ramblers are a bluegrass original. Larry started his career taking the Carter Stanley part in the Stanley Brothers in 1967. Almost 60 years later, he is still gracing us with his wonderful voice and bluesy guitar work. He was on stage for about 90 minutes and, to the fans’ delight, played all his hits, including mine: “A Face in The Crowd.”
Rachel Eddy is from West Virginia, she plays fiddle, banjo, and guitar, and she is a soulful singer of the old ballads.
The Feinberg Brothers, Rounke and Patrick (fiddle and mandolin), are from Long Island. They play traditional-style bluegrass with lots of brother material included.
Full Cord is a band that hails from Michigan and that plays a lot of Canadian material, especially Gordon Lightfoot. It is uncanny how many bluegrass bands who live in boarder states play and love Canadian-written songs.
Rock Hearts is a group of seasoned musicians that are known for taking musics from other genres and making them sound bluegrass. I have not yet seem or heard a better band in that sub-genre.