Disheartened, Meg is leaning on the back of the couch watching the woodpeckers devour the suet. The snow has no effect on them but it put an end to our plans for the day. I’m sure she’s hoping for an early spring and the beginning of the Festival season.
A glance at the calendar tells me there’s only 40 days (Feb.15) till the start of the Joe Val Festival in Framingham, Mass., a three-day event that features some of the finest national bands around as well as several popular regional groups. Because of the efforts of BBU president Gerry Katz, vice president Stan Zdonik and their dedicated volunteers the Joe Val is one of the premier festivals in the United States. In 2006 the International Bluegrass Music Association awarded the Joe Val with the Bluegrass Event of The Year trophy.
The bands slated to appear in 2008 are: The Seldom Scene, Michael Cleveland and the Flame Keeper, Blue Highway, Continental Divide, Dailey and Vincent, Steel Driver, Alicia Nugent, Steep Canyon Rangers, The Frank Wakefield Band, and many more. In addition, downstairs in the vendors’ area several local bands will be showcased on the vendor stage. There’s also the possibility of seeing one of the headliners popping in for an impromptu performance on the more intimate corner stage. I know last year the Gibson Brothers did three of four songs in between sets on the main stage.
What adds to the excitement for me is the number of workshops where you can sharpen your skills in harmony singing, song writing, or playing the guitar, banjo, fiddle, bass, and mandolin and this year Stacy Philips will be doing a Master’s workshop for the dobro. If you need more to do, you can visit with the many vendors downstairs who will be displaying the finest of instruments and accessories.
Now if you’re bringing children and they’re into Bluegrass your in luck. Just get them over to the Bluegrass Academy for Kids. There are some good folks who are dedicated to helping young people learn and improve their skills with bluegrass instruments, singing and playing in a band setting.
Of course jamming goes on day and night everywhere, in the hallways, at the elevator doors, in the picking rooms at the check in desk and who knows where else.
All in all this is a wonderful and relaxing break from the cold and snowy winter. I hope to see many old friends there and hope you do too.