This is the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival's second year in Hebron. "Last year was a great success, and everyone who attended really enjoyed the amenities and total fairground," said Executive Director Roger Moss. "The grounds are ideal and well-maintained," said Moss. Asphalt walkways make it easy for everyone to get around, said Moss, and the grounds provide plenty of places for multiple-day visitors from out of town to set up camp. There is also ample parking for day visitors, according to Moss.
The 19th Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival runs from Thursday, Aug. 6, through Sunday, Aug. 9, with legendary Bluegrass band the Seldom Scene appearing as the headlining performance. Thursday's music kicks off at 6 p.m. with the Telefunken Band Competition. Regional bands will be performing to win first place and a spot on the 2016 line-up. Following the four bands at 7:30 p.m. Detour, a "'bluegrass powerhouse' that features heartfelt originals, tightly-focused harmonies, and high-steppin' instrumentals from a superbly talented sextet of veterans of Michigan's bluegrass scene," will perform, according to a press release. Closing out the day will be regional favorite, The New England Bluegrass Band.
On Friday, Aug. 7, the performers include: Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers, Gold Heart, Chris Jones and Night Drivers, Detour, and a very special set with the Special Consensus 40th Reunion Show. Current members of Special Consensus will be joined on stage with past members of the band, as a tribute to their 40-year history performing under band leader, Greg Cahill.
The gates open Saturday, Aug. 8, at 10 a.m., with non-stop Bluegrass until featured performer, The Seldom Scene. Other Bluegrass groups slated to perform include: 2014 Telefunken Band Competition winner Tumbling Bones, The Railsplitters, Blue Canyon Boys (from Colorado) and super group Sister Sadie. The artist line-up is subject to change.
Sunday's lineup will include: Gospel Sing & Jam, with Mike & Mary Robinson; musical sets by James Reams & The Barnstormers; the Kids Academy Performance; and a final set by Blue Canyon Boys.
Camping on-site will be available from Wednesday to Sunday. A limited number of electric and water hook-ups are available for additional purchase. For those wishing to stay at a hotel, the host hotel will be Hilton Garden Inn in Glastonbury. You may get the Podunk discounted rate by registering through the festival website.
New to the festival this year will be the Americana/Acoustic Stage, with three days of additional music featuring: on Thursday, On Deck Sound Studio Showcase; on Friday, Tracy Walton, Krizta Moon, Ebin-Rose Trio, Gail Wade Trio, Them Damn Hamiltons, and Goodnight Blue Moon; on Saturday, Tuesday Saints, Hannah Fair, The Meadows Brothers, Milksop:unsung, Five In The Chamber and Little Ugly. Other features returning to the festival include: more food and craft vendors, Kids Academy, children's activities, a horseshoe competition, free workshops, plenty of jamming, and more. The fairgrounds include permanent restroom facilities and showers on site.
According to Moss, the legendary group The Seldom Scene includes one of the founding members. Banjo player Ben Eldridge has been with The Seldom Scene since its inception in November of 1971, according to Moss, "and he still performs with the same fire and enthusiasm that characterized the band's early days as a progressive group that took Bluegrass music to new heights," said Moss. "Ben is also well-loved for his scat singing on fan favorite, 'Lay Down Sally,'" added Moss. Eldridge turns 77 years old on Aug. 15, according to Moss.
Dudley Connell "plays a masterful guitar and provides powerful lead vocals for The Scene, which has a reputation for challenging the bounds of Bluegrass," said Moss. Moss said that Connell's musical virtuosity has pushed the group beyond these bounds.
Playing dobro for The Scene is one of the most respected dobro players on the bluegrass circuit today, according to Moss. Fred Travers, "is also an accomplished vocalist who brings solid lead and harmony to The Scene," said Moss.
Ronnie Simpkins "plays rock-steady bass for the group, and provides the bass vocals in The Scene's quartets as well," said Moss. Simpkins has been performing Bluegrass music since childhood, and is a former member of The Tony Rice Unit, according to Moss.
Lou Reid, who plays mandolin for The Scene and provides the tenor vocals, is also a former member of Ricky Skaggs Band and Quicksilver, according to Moss. Reid currently fronts his own group, Carolina. "On lead, or when providing harmony, Reid's vocals are the epitome of the powerful, 'high, lonesome' tenor that is the signature of Bluegrass music," said Moss.
Complete up-to-date information and tickets for the Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival may be found on the festival website at www.podunkbluegrass.com, or by calling the festival at 860-828-9818. Those interested in volunteering for the festival may apply on the festival website.
The Podunk Bluegrass Festival was held in East Hartford, Conn., for 16 years before moving to Dodd Stadium in 2012 for one year. The festival won the International Bluegrass Music Association "Event of the Year" in 2010, the highest award given to an event. The Podunk Bluegrass Music Festival is a 501(c)(3) charitable non-profit organization.