by Charlie Hansen
Summer is bluegrass season on PEI and although the season is already in full swing with the St. Louis camp-out completed to rave reviews there is lots of grass left to be enjoyed.
The oldest bluegrass festival on PEI is the PEI Bluegrass and Old Time Music Festival at Rollo Bay which falls on July 4, 5, and 6 this year. This festival has been around for 23 years and is known as one of the finest in Canada. The lineup this year includes The Kenny & Amanda Smith band from Meadows of Dan, Virginia, Avery County from North Carolina and The Timmons Family from Maryland.
Kenny Smith, formerly of the Lonesome River Band is one of the finest guitarists in bluegrass today. Along with his wife Amanda and their band they can perform some of the finest bluegrass and gospel music that you will hear anywhere.
Avery County are a throw back to the early years of the Baltimore and Washington, DC bluegrass scene that featured the likes of Red Allen, Buzz Busby, and Charlie Moore. The music has a raw edge that is faithful to the founding fathers of the sound.
The Timmons Family are quite active on the bluegrass scene in the eastern US and, although not strangers to the PEI festival, this is the first year that they will be performing. They feature tight family harmonies and solid musicianship.
The festival gets it’s unofficial start on Wednesday July 2 with the first edition of Stan’s jam. The same event occurs on Thursday night and over the years this has evolved to be one of the favourite activities of the campers at the festival.
The weekend following Rollo Bay is the Evangeline Bluegrass and Traditional Music Festival in Abram Village. This year’s festival features The Abrams Brothers from Ontario. The Abrams Brothers burst onto the Canadian Music Scene in 1999 at the ages of 6 and 9. They quickly created a stir in local, national and international music communities. The boys, now ages 16 and 13, demonstrate a talent for music beyond their years. The Abrams Brothers have had return invitations to many prestigious venues including The Station Inn, Nashville, Tennessee, and The Midnight jamboree, also in Nashville. They opened for Ralph Stanley at the opening of The Ralph Stanley Museum in Clintwood Virginia October, 2004 and have also played the Grand Ole Opry.
The Timmons Family will also be making a visit to Abrams Village and I’m sure you’ll enjoy their brand of bluegrass. The Final festival of the summer is the Red Clay Festival in Tignish. Since I’m running out of space I’ll be telling you about that next month.