Headliners at this year’s NEPA Bluegrass Festival will include Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (top) and Seth Mulder & Midnight Run (above).
The NEPA Bluegrass Festival will return to Lazy Brook Park in Tunkhannock Thursday, June 3 and run through Sunday, June 6. Fans of live bluegrass music will find familiar names on the bill, as well as some musicians making their debut at the event. This is the 14th year that Danny and Christa Stewart of Wyalusing have brought the festival to Tunkhannock. Free camping is available for those purchasing weekend passes in advance online.
The Stewarts are thrilled to welcome everyone back after having to cancel the festival in 2020. “We have missed you all and hope you are safe and healthy,” Christa stated. “This year’s band line-up is over the top, and there are lots of new food and craft vendors.” Paige Capo has stepped up as this year’s sponsor.
From Friday through Sunday, acts are lined up on both the traditional (main) stage and the progressive stage that sits alongside Tunkhannock Creek, which meanders around the park and provides both recreation and great photo backdrops. On Friday and Saturday, the musical fun starts on the main stage right after breakfast and runs well into the evening on the progressive stage. Sunday’s music begins with a gospel singalong and continues into the afternoon.
Headline acts on the main stage this year include Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Malpass Brothers, Valerie Smith & Liberty Pike, the Little Roy and Lizzy Show, The Dave Adkins Band, Sideline, and Seth Mulder & Midnight Run Bluegrass.
Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver have been awarded Vocal Group of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association nine times since 2002 and were inducted into the IBMA Hall of Fame in 2018. They have also been honored many times by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America for both their bluegrass and gospel recordings, which they proudly perform in a time-honored bluegrass style. They have recorded more gospel songs that secular ones, according to band leader Doyle Lawson, who has announced that he will retire at the end of this year.
The Malpass Brothers (above) do not have as many years under their belts, but their classic country style drew the attention of Doyle Lawson, who produced their most recent album. They like to mix it up when they are on stage, delivering a repertoire of classic country, bluegrass, and gospel – both covers and original compositions. They’re known for mingling with the audience between sets to take requests.
Valerie Smith, lead singer of Liberty Pike, not only draws on a large body of bluegrass, American roots music, and other genres, she has made it her life mission to share her music with others. With her Masters degree in Music from the University of Missouri, Smith taught music for seven years before marrying musician and song writer Craig Smith and moving to Nashville. Her wit and her vocal range are highlights of her act, which has been as well-received in Canada and the U.K. as here in the U.S. She is the founder of both the Bluegrass in the Schools and American Roots Music programs, through which she introduces bluegrass music and its history to thousands of students every year.
The Little Roy and Lizzy Show makes a triumphant return to the main stage with their undeniable musicianship. Lizzy (above, left) plays the fiddle, banjo, guitar and resonator banjo. She has won the Bluegrass Song of the Year several times as a solo artist and on duets with Rhonda Vincent and Ty Herndon. Little Roy (above, right), who plays banjo, guitar and autoharp keeps audience members tapping their toes and laughing. His singing, picking, storytelling, and jokes make him a well-rounded entertainer that everyone remembers.
The Dave Adkins Band is a high-energy outfit from Kentucky who seamlessly blend chart-topping bluegrass originals with country and rock. Adkins has piled up the musical accolades in his years on the stage that started with a gig at Dollyworld when he was 17. He is also a prolific recording artist, adding approximately an album a year to his repertoire with his own band and collaborations with other artists like Edgar Loudermilk.
The six-piece band Sideline (above) embodies what some call the North Carolina Bluegrass sound. What started as an off-season fun experiment has become a full time dream for the sextet. Not only were its founding members, Steve Dilling, Skip Cherryholmes, and Jason Moore already respected in the bluegrass community as solo and session artists before forming the group 20 years ago, they scored the IBMA Song of the Year Award in 2019 for their hit, “Thunder Dan.”
Midnight Run Bluegrass is led by Seth Mulder, who pulled together a bunch of friends in 2015 who play traditional bluegrass overlaid with old-style harmonies that have become their hallmark. In 2020, they completed a new studio album that garnered them an IBMA nomination for Momentum Band of the Year. Fans of their “high lonesome” sound should be sure to see them at Tunkhannock, as they are embarking in 2022 on a tour of Europe.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.nepabluegrass.com and regular updates are posted on the NEPA Bluegrass Festival Facebook page.