Saturday, July 11, 2009

Bluegrass Bliss

Wow. Too weekends in a row with fabulous music -- outdoor concerts, free to the public, the whole "kids and dogs" scene from last weekend replayed today.

This was "Bluegrass on the Grass," the 14th annual Bluegrass festival sponsored by Dickinson College on a big grassy, shaded lawn outside one of their beautiful old stone buildings. There were five Bluegrass bands, each playing a set of about 45 minutes, and each coming on twice. We were there from before it started (1:00 p.m.) until the last screams and accolades were over about 9:15.

Not only was it threatening rain when we arrived, the radar showed that we were due to be hammered by thunderstorms throughout the afternoon. It did rain a little bit now and then, even enough to warrant some umbrellas going up (including ours), but not much rain materialized until about 7:30 when it really did pour for a while. But by then the die-hards were not about to leave, as the Dismembered Tenneseans were playing and nobody wanted to miss them. We huddled under our umbrella keeping out heads dry, though our perimeters got soaked, but the music was so good who cares?

The bands varied in musical styles and appeal (though it's hard to go wrong with Bluegrass music). But by far the best were the Steep Canyon Rangers, from Asheville, NC. Five guys wearing suits (!) who were brilliant instrumentalists and really good singers. In their first set, they sang an a capella piece that sent chills down our spines "I Just Got to Heaven and I Want to Look Around." Their second set made the rain stop (I am not kidding about this). By then people were a little more lubricated than the afternoon crowd, and there was wild dancing on the pavement in front of the bandstand -- sopping wet kids leaping and pirouetting in bare feet, rhythmic clapping from the audience, screams and whistles and standing ovations for every piece. I tell you, these guys were GOOD!

I'm planning my winter calendar around their next appearance in this area.


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