Paddle Faster Bluegrass Festival Set For Hilltop Farm

Courant Community

The Hilltop Farm, on Route 159, will welcome the 'Paddle Faster Bluegrass Festival,' on Aug. 19.

The gates open at 9 a.m., with the opening act taking the stage at 11 a.m.

The lineup features Damn Tall Buildings, Mile Twelve, Five in the Chamber, Celia Woodsmith, and Man About a Horse.

Several food trucks, including Chili Brothers Cajun Food and Sylvia's Hot Dogs, will serve throughout the festival. Tickets are priced at $30. Children 15 and under admitted for free.

Tickets can be purchased on the festival's Facebook page or at www.paddlefastermusic.com. Tickets at the gate are $35.

Todd Michael, the festival organizer, said few venues or outlets exist for bluegrass music between Hartford and Northampton, Massachusetts. The idea for the festival came about after he attended the Podunk Bluegrass Festival, in Hebron, in 2016.

He credits the support of a band member from Damn Tall Buildings for moving ahead with Paddle Faster. The festival was originally slated for Babb's Beach, in West Suffield. The bands hail from Boston, New Haven, and Philadelphia.

He said Mile Twelve has been nominated for several Momentum Awards by the International Bluegrass Music Awards.

"We have some incredibly talented people. All the bands do," he said. "It's great music and it's something I've wanted to bring to the area."

Michael's love for bluegrass began in 2009, when he somewhat jokingly asked his sister for a banjo for Christmas. He said an image of comedian Steve Martin with an arrow through his head came to mind, playing 'Foggy Mountain Breakdown."

Martin is considered a banjo virtuoso and has played with top bluegrass talent.

"I just blurted out I want to play the banjo," he said. "Be careful what you ask for. My sister bought me the banjo."

Michael was taught the banjo by several teachers. His love for bluegrass has only grown.

His parents always played country music in the house, a genre he was no fan of growing up. He mistakenly associated bluegrass with country music.

"I've come to learn they're completely different," Michael said.

He continues to research the history of bluegrass and the musicians past and present, like Earl Scruggs, Ralph Stanley, and Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper.

"They're unbelievably talented, and the music is fantastic," he said.

The bands are expected to perform two shows each, with the final act appearing at 9 p.m.

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