Cornstock will host Red Wine (top), the first international act to play at the annual three-day folk and roots music festival in Lazy Brook Park, Tunkhannock on Labor Day Weekend. Other headliners include Daisycutter (above), The Crowmatrix and Furnace Mountain.
By Rick Hiduk
The days may be getting shorter as summer winds down, but the caliber of talent offered at the Cornstock Folk Festival in Tunkhannock keeps growing in leaps and bounds. From Friday to Sunday, Sept. 4 to 6, the three-day celebration of roots and acoustic music will be held again at Lazy Brook Park near the intersection of Routes 6 and 92, two miles east of Tunkhannock.
Cornstock has already developed a reputation for featuring a variety of acts that cover the spectrum of folk music, from bluegrass and Americana acoustic rock to breezy reggae and other forms of grass roots music. “The bands performing at Cornstock are the best bands you’ve never heard of,” said Jillian Hannigan, who coordinates the festival with her husband Anthony Hannigan. “They may not be household names, but their talent is indisputable.”
Headliners this year are Red Wine Bluegrass, Sara Milonovich and Daisycutter, Professor Louie and The Crowmatrix, and Furnace Mountain. Additional acts on the bill include Roy Williams and The Human Hands, Coal Town Rounders, George Wesley, Hickory Project, Garcia Grass, The Bog Swing Group, Owl and Wolf, Band of Strings, Phyllis Hopkins Electric Trio, Kanawha Valley Bluegrass, and Highgrass Ramblers.
A number of the groups are Cornstock regulars, and several are well-known local and regional acts. Headliner Red Wine, however, is Europe’s premier bluegrass band and will make its debut at Cornstock. Music critics consistently place the band at the top of the roster with their American counterparts and highly praise Red Wine’s repertoire of contemporary and traditional bluegrass, flavored with country, gospel, and swing.
“I am really excited about Red Wine,” said Anthony. “I’ve known these guys for 15 years and have played with them all throughout Europe. I’m really excited about bringing them here to the US and sharing their talents with our audience.”
Jillian is looking forward to hearing more from Furnace Mountain, having caught a piece of one of their shows in Florida. “The band is from my home state of Virginia and plays their own style of Appalachian music,” she remarked. “It’s deeply soulful.”
While there is much to do and see at Cornstock, music is certainly the core element of the festival and is virtually continuous, with acts on the Main Stage from 3 pm to midnight on Friday, 11 am to midnight on Saturday, and 11 am to 5 pm on Sunday. At most other times during the weekend, strains of music can be heard elsewhere through the park, whether at the Back Stage along the creek or at spontaneous jam sessions and pickin’ parlors among the campsites.
Before Cornstock is fully underway on Friday, the annual Northeast Strings Workshop will be conducted at the Dietrich Theater on Tioga Street Tunkhannock a. For a third year, five hours of instruction on mandolin, guitar, fiddle, bass, and finger style guitar will be offered to a limited number of participants.
“This year, we have some pretty exciting teachers, including Alex Hargreaves for the violin/fiddle,” Anthony related. “Alex has toured all over the world and is considered one of the best fiddle players on the scene today.” Registration is required, and String Workshop participants may camp at Lazy Brook Park on Thursday evening.
Meanwhile, festival guests may purchase day passes for Friday, Saturday or Sunday or weekend passes, which include free camping on Friday and Saturday nights. Those who spend the weekend enjoy the leisure of taking breaks from music for walks through the idyllic park, a refreshing dip or float in Tunkhannock Creek, and browsing the many vendor stands on site. There are also a number of artisans and crafters, including a blacksmith, who will display their works.
“We absolutely loved the park and wanted to do our own festival there showcasing a range of talent beyond bluegrass. We think it’s the perfect setting for a festival, and we want to give the region a reputation for hosting great music and cultural events,” said Jillian.
Children who attend the festival will have a blast in a kid-safe playground and at Cornstock’s expanded Kids Zone. In addition to fun, crafts, games, and musical activities, the Kids Zone will feature a giant bouncy slide and obstacle course on Saturday and Sunday.
Yoga, arts, crafts, and an interesting mix of food vendors add even more intrigue to an atmosphere of hands-on, home-spun fun. “We have added live music and organic juice drinks to our morning yoga classes,” Jillian noted. “Last year it was wonderful to see so many people out in a gorgeous green field doing yoga.”
Musicians of all levels of talent and experience are encouraged to bring their instruments with them. “Cornstock is a great place for aspiring musicians to get a kick-start on their road to musicianship. There are free workshops all weekend where beginners and seasoned players alike can learn from the pros.” The majority of the workshops, she noted, will be conducted at back stage.
For more information about the Cornstock Folk Festival and the Northeast Strings Workshop, visit www.cornstockfestival.com, like Cornstock Folk Festival on Facebook, or call 570-250-7464.