“June is a bustin’ out all over” … I know it’s not a bluegrass song, but from the musical “ Carousal.”
The gardening stores are packed, the boat harbors are buzzin’ with excitement and many of us have summer bluegrass festivals on our minds.
Bluegrass festivals are a very unique experience. People camp with their families and their bluegrass instruments too! Bluegrass festivals are family friendly, They encourage you to jam with other friends and strangers. The bands ARE easily accessible. Most come out to a table right after their set to visit and sign CDs. They are very affordable for families and the same people come back year after year.
I recently watched an episode of “My Bluegrass Story” on YouTube. It’s a free show with famous Bluegrass artists telling how they got into Bluegrass music. The episode that I watched was about Dan Tyminski from the Alison Krauss Band and his own group. He was the singing voice of George Clooney in “Oh Brother, Where Are’t Thou?” He was born up here in the north, in Rutland Vt. His family traveled to bluegrass festivals in the northeastern U.S. year after year, meeting the same kids who were also playing Bluegrass and getting better every year. He credits those weekends getting him on the path to his future success in Bluegrass.
Bluegrass Festivals within a one-day drive from Buffalo
The Wind Gap Bluegrass Festival is one of those small, family festivals. A five-hour drive from Buffalo in Wind Gap, Pa., it takes place June 9-11. Headliners include the Lonesome River Band and Danny Paisley and Southern Grass. My brother, Chris Panfil, and I are teaching a Bluegrass academy for kids ages 9-16. The kids learn three bluegrass songs on their violin, guitar, banjo, mandolin, bass and dobro, and then play the songs on the main stage on Sunday morning. It’s free to festival families. https://www.windgapbluegrass.com/
Another one coming up on July 13-16 is the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival in Oak Hill N.Y. It is much bigger than Wind Gap but still maintains a family friendly atmosphere. There’s a large main stage, a completely shaded afternoon stage, a more intimate workshop and showcase stage (where I saw Steve Earle talk and play with Jerry Douglas last year and afterwards got to meet Steve Earle). This year’s line up has names like Del McCoury, Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, The Infamous Stringdusters, Sierra Hull. Chris and I teach a Bluegrass academy here, too, but with a staff of another 13 teachers. https://greyfoxbluegrass.com/
Other local Bluegrass Festivals include:
June 8-10, Thousand Island Bluegrass Festival in Clayton, N.Y. https://www.thousandislandsbluegrass.com/festival-2023.html
- July 6-9, Busy Bird Bluegrass Festival in Berkshire, N.Y. http://busybird-bluegrass.com/
- Aug 19, Mayville Bluegrass Festival in Mayville, N.Y. https://www.facebook.com/mayvillebluegrass
- June 30- July 2, Great Blue Heron Festival in Sherman, N.Y. https://greatblueheron.com/ over 30 bands, including Peter Rowan.
- July 1-2, Adirondack Bluegrass Festival in Lake George, N.Y. https://adkbluegrassfestival.com/
- July 27-30, Brantling Bluegrass Festival in Sodus N.Y. http://www.brantlingbluegrass.com/
A Local Winner of the IBMA Foundation Guitar
In a press release just published, the IBMA Foundation announced that Jayson Clark, multi-instrumentalist in the Rear View Ramblers and Almost Seamus from Hamburg, has won the prize 1967 D-35 Martin guitar. Jayson wrote, “I am honored to have won this wonderful guitar from the 2023 Strings for Dreams raffle, but even more honored to support the IBMA Foundation (International Bluegrass Music Association). As an educator and active bluegrass musician, the mission of the IBMA Foundation is extremely close to my heart, and it is truly a pleasure to support it. Many thanks to Fred Bartenstein for donating this incredible guitar to the raffle, and I am thrilled to continue its legacy and to be able to use this instrument to help spread the joy of bluegrass for many years to come!”
The mission Statement for the IBMA Foundation reads as follows, “Our mission is to build a brighter future for bluegrass music. We help donors create a bluegrass legacy by supporting programs and projects that focus on bluegrass music-related arts and culture, education, literary work and historic preservation.” They do this through college scholorships to bluegrass bound kids, through Bluegrass in the schools programs and though annual grants for kids and adults to learn Bluegrass instruments and singing.
An informal poll on Facebook
“If you go to see a band, would you be more likely to buy a CD, a USB drive or a download card of their music?”
The results are pretty interesting. Most people who responded prefer to show support for the band through buying a CD, but many people don’t even have access to a CD player anymore. It’s a different music consumer world in 2023. Most people listen through streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. In fact some people buy the CD and read the liner notes but don’t listen to the CD. They can get the same music easier on the streaming services.
When you stream a song from Spotify, the artist gets about about one third of a penny. It’s a little better with Apple Music. They give the artist two thirds of a penny. A CD gives the band about three quarters of what you paid. A USB drive with the songs on it costs about as much as the CD costs the band.
So, I guess a band in 2023 needs a CD, perhaps a few USB drives and a presence on Spotify, Apple Music and maybe YouTube, too. But if you want to show your support, buying a CD is still the best.
National Bluegrass coming to Buffalo
Kevin Prater Band will be playing a concert at the Community Fellowship Church, 3144 Johnson Creek Road, in Middleport on Saturday, June 17 ,starting at 6 p.m. and the next day, they will play a church service starting at 10 am at the church. Great traditional bluegrass and gospel band. https://thekevinpraterband.com/
- Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers will be at the West Falls Center for the Arts on Friday, June 30, starting at 7 p.m. Joe is a Bluegrass radio personality, a traditional Scruggs-style banjo player and highly successful band leader from the Cincinnati, Ohio. https://www.radioramblers.com/index.html
Sammy Shelor and the Lonesome River Band will be at the West Falls Center for the Arts on Friday, July 7, starting at 7 p.m. Since its formation decades ago, Lonesome River Band continues its reputation as one of the most respected names in bluegrass music. A five-time International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) Banjo Player of the Year, and winner of the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, Sammy Shelor leads a group that is constantly breaking new ground in acoustic music. With two stellar lead vocalists in Jesse Smathers (guitar) and Adam Miller (mandolin) and the impressive talents of Mike Hartgrove (fiddle) and Kameron Keller (bass), the band seamlessly comes together, performing the trademark sound that fans continue to embrace. https://www.lonesomeriverband.com/
- John Cowan’s Newgrass All Stars will be at the Sportsmen’s Tavern on Friday, Nov. 10, starting at 8 p.m. Cowan is simply the most powerful and soulful voice in Bluegrass as well as bass player and singer for the New Grass Revival and the Doobie Brothers. https://www.johncowan.com/
Live Local Bluegrass in June
- The Buffalo Bluegrass All Stars will be playing at the Sportsmen’s Tavern on Thursday, June 15, from noon to 2:15 p.m.
- Creek Bend will be playing on Saturday, June 17, 2–3:30 p.m., at the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, 1 Lafayette Square, Buffalo, NY.
- Creek Bend is playing at the One M&T Bank concert series on Thursday, June 22, noon-1 p.m.
- The Panfil Brothers Trio is playing Talty’s Tavern, 2056 South Park Ave., Buffalo, on Friday, June 16, 7-10 p.m.
- The Panfil Brothers trio is playing on Saturday, June 24, ⋅11 a.m.-2 p.m.at the Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens, 2655 South Park Ave, Buffalo.
- Creek Bend is playing the Holland Town Concert series on Thursday, June 29, 6:30-8:30 p.m. in Holland.
As the summer progresses, I hope to see many friends out seeing live Bluegrass music around Buffalo. May you and your families have a wonderful summer and, as always … Keep on pickin’!