2023 Festival Lineup
Here is the 2023 Father’s Day Festival Lineup!
Click for band bios.
And here are this year’s California Showcase Bands.
Clinton Davis String Band
Water Tower Band
Matt & George and their Pleasant Valley Boys
Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves
Traditional music is not static; it shifts with the times, uncovering new meanings in old words, new ways of talking about the communal pathways that led us to where we are today. For master musicians Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves, traditional banjo and fiddle music is a way to interpret our uncertain times, to draw artistic inspiration and power from the sources of meaning in their lives. History, family, literature, live performance, and environmental instability all manifest in the sounds, feelings, and sensations that permeate their music. Their 2022 sophomore album, Hurricane Clarice is a direct infusion of centuries of matrilineal folk wisdom, a fiery breath of apocalyptic energy.
Individually they are both leaders in the young generation of roots musicians, de Groot being known for intricate clawhammer banjo work with Bruce Molsky, and Hargreaves bringing powerhouse fiddling to the stage with Laurie Lewis and David Rawlings in addition to teaching bluegrass fiddle at UNC-Chapel Hill. Their first self-titled album released in 2019 garnered attention from CBC Q, Paste Magazine and Rolling Stone Country, earning the duo the Independent Music Awards “Best Bluegrass Album” and a nomination from IBMA for “Best Liner Notes of the Year.” The duo has been booked at festivals and venues such as Newport Folk Festival, Savannah Music Festival, Winnipeg Folk Festival, the Red Hat Amphitheater in Raleigh, NC, and Red Wing Roots Music Festival. Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves create a sound that is adventurous, masterful, and original, as they expand on the eccentricities of old songs, while never losing sight of what makes them endure.
I Would Not Live Always
Highly esteemed bluegrass band Blue Highway has earned a collective 28 IBMA Awards, 6 SPBGMA Awards, one Dove Award, plus three Grammy nominations as a band. As momentum continues to build for the 25 year strong powerhouse band (2019 is their 25th year touring, with 4 of the original members), Blue Highway is rolling on with a rich legacy, carried on by three powerhouse songwriters and vocalists in Tim Stafford, Wayne Taylor, and Shawn Lane, whose harmonies soar over the dynamic banjo of Jason Burleson and the tasteful dobro of Gary Hultman.
- Blue Highway’s 2016 album “Original Traditional” was nominated for a 2017 GRAMMY Award for Best Bluegrass Album.
- Blue Highway was voted the Favorite Bluegrass Artist of All Time by the readers of Bluegrass Today in April 2016.
- Wayne Taylor was a 2016 Inductee into the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, alongside legends like Patsy Cline, the Statler Brothers, Jimmy Dean, Mother Maybelle Carter, and Roy Clark.
- Tim Stafford received honors as 2015 SPBGMA Guitar Player of the Year and 2014 and 2017 IBMA Songwriter of the Year. Shawn Lane was nominated as 2015 IBMA Songwriter of the Year, while past member Justin Moses was named IBMA’s Dobro Player of the year in 2017.
- Blue Highway charted the Most Radio Airplay of any Bluegrass Artist in 2014, per the 2014 Bluegrass Radio Airplay Chart, storming national airplay charts with their heralded album The Game.
- The Game topped multiple charts at #1 including reigning at #1 for 7 consecutive months on the Bluegrass Unlimited Album Chart, and was named the # 1 Bluegrass Album of the Year by critic Daniel Mullins in his end of the year Top 20 Albums of 2014 list in Bluegrass Today.
- The 2012 IBMA Vocal Group of the Year also sent the title track of The Game to #1 on multiple charts including Bluegrass Todayand Roots Music Report, as well as holding at #1 for three consecutive months on the national Bluegrass Unlimited Song Chart (Aug-Oct 2014).
Blue Highway has been praised by peers, fans, and media alike, with one of the most powerful descriptions of the Bluegrass super group being shared by Country Standard Time:
“Wayne Taylor sings with the emotion of a man who escaped the coal mines and ain’t planning on going back. Tim Stafford continues to craft songs with depth .. The instrumentation is perfect. From the get go, Jason Burleson opens with the unique style that defines Blue Highway banjo.. Shawn Lane exemplifies modern mandolin, yet nods to the Monroe legacy. Three lead singers.. rich harmony .. songs of forgotten homeless veterans, fallen heroes, and heartbroken families. Blue Highway personifies modern acoustic music with respect for tradition. Highly recommended, highly respected.” There are no upcoming tour dates.
A powerfully gifted musician and a scholar of Black American music, Jake Blount speaks ardently about the African roots of the banjo and the subtle, yet profound ways African Americans have shaped and defined the amorphous categories of roots music and Americana. His 2020 album Spider Tales (named one of the year’s best albums by NPR and The New Yorker, earned a perfect 5-star review from The Guardian) highlighted the Black and Indigenous histories of popular American folk tunes, as well as revived songs unjustly forgotten in the whitewashing of the canon. Jake Blount’s new album, The New Faith, is a towering achievement of dystopian Afrofuturism and his first album for Smithsonian Folkways (coming September 23, 2022). The New Faith is spiritual music, filled with hope for salvation and righteous anger in equal measure. The album manifests our worst fears on the shores of an island in Maine, where Blount enacts an imagined religious ceremony performed by Black refugees after the collapse of global civilization due to catastrophic climate change. Jake Blount’s music is rooted in care and confrontation. On stage, each song he and his band play is chosen for a reason – because it highlights important elements about the stories we tell ourselves of our shared history and our endlessly complicated present moment. The more we learn about where we’ve been, the better equipped we are to face the future.
East Nash Grass
There is a lot of discussion within the bluegrass community about what, exactly, bluegrass is. How close do we hold our traditions, our themes, even the lineups that we canonize, versus how much breath do we give them to grow and change. It is, to be frank, a little exhausting.
So the nominal album of the East Nash Grass comes as a refreshing break from the hand-wringing — a balance of undeniably hard-driving bluegrass alongside surprisingly introspective songwriting and earnest narration. Featuring a who’s-who of Nashville’s hottest young pickers, the band was first founded as a part-time pickup gig band in 2017 before transforming into a more serious project just prior to the first closures of COVID in 2020. Since then, the band has been honing their voice — writing original songs collaboratively and as individuals, breathing fresh life into well-worn standards, and playing gigs together however and whenever they safely can.
That voice shines through on this wholly self-produced project — defined by the playful brassy flare of banjo riffs and dobro slides balanced against a warm and stable low-end. Notable on the album is the band’s tender take on the themes commonly found in bluegrass, largely avoiding the machismo that dominates so much of the traditional sound. Aided by the presence of warmer baritone vocals (as opposed to the strained high tenors so reified by the genre), the East Nash Grass has settled into a sound that feels grounded but not weighed down, and virtuosic without being flashy.
If you are a lover of traditional bluegrass, then it goes without saying that you will enjoy the works produced by this band. This band lives and breathes sparkling instrumental solos and driving rhythms; you would be hard-pressed to find a group of musicians with as much deep bluegrass cred as these pickers. Hell, they even threw in a murder ballad for good measure.
But if you were potentially feeling a little burned out on bluegrass and were drifting away from the genre in this past year without jams and live shows, then let this album carry you back into the fold. The joy and passion these musicians feel towards the genre is infused in every note they play and every word they sing. It will infuse you too, if you let it.
-Kara Kundert, February 2021
Mile Twelve is a modern string band from Boston, Massachusetts. Winners of the 2020 IBMA New Artist of the Year award, they have been making waves in the acoustic music community with their seamless blend of expertly-crafted songs, creative arrangements, and virtuosic execution. The band takes their name from the mile marker that sits at Boston’s southern border on Route 93, a road sign they’ve passed countless times while heading out on tour. They’ve found receptive audiences across the globe, touring throughout North America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
Their latest full-length album City on a Hill, produced by guitar legend Bryan Sutton and nominated for 2019 IBMA Album of the Year, is centered on the theme of people facing and overcoming challenge. Many of its songs are set in urban landscapes, a significant departure from the often-rural lens of acoustic music. Sutton observes, “I’m a fan of bands who strive for a balance of being musically unique and individualized, while at the same time working to include time-honored traditions found in this music. This blend is not an easy thing to accomplish. Mile Twelve does this with well-honed and refreshingly honest songwriting, along with powerful playing, singing, and performing. Not only did I have the privilege of producing this album, but I also got a chance to know the band better. I’m impressed with how much they bring out the best in each other.”
More recently, the band has released an EP of covers titled Roll the Tapes All Night Long. They draw from a wide array of influences — from Ralph Stanley to Los Lobos, from Darell Scott to Tattletale Saints — demonstrating the surprisingly flexible nature of their instrumentation at every turn. The project features a who’s-who list of special guests: Billy Strings, Chris Eldridge (Punch Brothers), Brittany Haas (Hawktail) and Bruce Molsky. Folk Alley says “Roll the Tapes All Night Long showcases Mile Twelve’s restless creativity, their ability to inhabit a song and turn it inside out to make it their own, even as they preserve the spirit of the original.”
After a busy summer of touring including stops at the Savannah Music Festival, The IBMA Bluegrass Ramble! and Pickin’ in the Pines Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival, the band is gearing up to release its next full-length project in early 2023.
Never Come Down
Weaving together modern and traditional styles of bluegrass and americana, Never Come Down is a Portland, Oregon based 5-piece composed of Joe Suskind (guitar), Crystal Lariza (vocals), Brian Alley (banjo), Kaden Hurst (mandolin), and Ben Ticknor (bass). Their dedication to thoughtful songwriting and dynamic arrangements highlight polished technical skills and a commitment to listening to each other.
Formed in 2018, the band released their self-titled debut that year and their second album “Better Late Than Never” followed in 2021. They’ve toured internationally and have found acclaim at festivals and venues such as Iceland Airwaves, John Hartford Memorial Fest, Americanafest, FreshGrass and RockyGrass.
Rhonda Vincent is a firecracker of talent that powers one of the hottest bands in any genre of music today. From humble beginnings in the tiny town of Greentop, Missouri, Rhonda’s musical heritage traces back 5 generations of the Vincent family. Her dad would pick her up from school each day, and they would sing and play till dinner. After dinner, friends came over, and they would sing and play till bedtime. She began her professional music career singing in her family’s band The Sally Mountain Show. It was an immediate “on the job training,” as they had a TV show, radio show, and made their first recording when Rhonda was 5 years old. She picked up the mandolin at eight, the fiddle at twelve, and learned a valuable life lesson as a teenager performing with her family at Silver Dollar City in Branson, Missouri. While they were playing in the pouring rain to empty seats, and what they thought, no one listening — a week later they received a call from Hal Durham, general manager of the Grand Ole Opry at the time,
and who just happened to be listening with his family around the corner. Mr. Durham loved what he heard and invited the Vincent family to appear on the Opry.
Rhonda’s life of music evolved into a successful career in bluegrass music; after being discovered by Grand Ole Opry Star “Jim Ed Brown,” and later spending what she calls her musical college years recording for Giant Records; and learning about the music business from Nashville’s best like James Stroud, Jack McFadden, and Stan Barnett.
It was her pivotal bluegrass album “Back Home Again” that transformed Rhonda Vincent into the All American Bluegrass Girl, and crowned the New Queen of Bluegrass by “The Wall Street Journal” in 2000.
A multi-award winner, with a 2017 Grammy for Best Bluegrass Album, an Entertainer of the Year 2001, Song of the Year 2004, and unprecedented 7 consecutive Female Vocalist of the Year awards from the International Bluegrass Music Association 2000 – 2006 and an 8th win of IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year in 2015.
Her lifelong dream came true when she was invited to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry on February 28, 2020. Rhonda waited an unprecedented 345 days and was officially inducted as a member of the Grand Ole Opry on February 6, 2021.
Her powerful vocal style transcends the boundaries of bluegrass music, as evidenced in her collaboration with Dolly Parton on the Elton John / Bernie Taupin Tribute Project “Restoration” 2018.
Seth Mulder & Midnight Run
Hailing from the Gateway of the Great Smoky Mountains, Seth Mulder & Midnight Run began its journey in February 2015 at the Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Made up of 5 like-minded musicians and graduates of college music programs, this group of friends and musicians created a band tied to the rich traditions of bluegrass music, yet one that offers a fresh approach to that “High Lonesome” sound. Each member draws from various influences, including bluegrass, country, and rock and roll.
They present a high-energy show filled with nostalgic entertainment, tight harmonies, and skillful musicianship, all built around their curated set list of original material and lost covers.
Favorites among bluegrass enthusiasts and non-bluegrass audiences alike; they keep the energy high and the audience on their feet. The band knows when they are on stage; it is not only about the music; it is about connecting with the audience and leaving them with a memory that will last a lifetime.
2022 was a big year for them. They completed their first studio album on Mountain Fever Records, “In Dreams I Go Back,” which debuted on the Billboard charts at number #7. In addition, their singles “My, My, My” ,”The Mountains are Calling”, “Carolina Line” and “One More Night” spent multiple weeks on the top ten charts. “One More Night” was the named #4 most played song on bluegrass radio in 2021.
With over 300 dates a year, their high-energy style of music has taken them worldwide, including festivals across the United States, Canada, and multiple European tours.Together, Seth Mulder, Colton Powers, Ben Watlington, Max Etling and Max Silverstein create a powerhouse of music and a stage show you do not want to miss and that is why they are one of the most talked-about young bluegrass bands on the festival circuit today!
In a day and age where authenticity is everything, Seth Mulder & Midnight Run are the real deal.
Molly Tuttle & Golden Highway
One of the most compelling new voices in the roots music world, Molly Tuttle is a virtuosic multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter with a lifelong love of bluegrass, a genre the Northern California-bred artist first discovered thanks to her father (a music teacher and multi-instrumentalist) and grandfather (a banjo player whose Illinois farm she visited often throughout her childhood). On her new album Crooked Tree, Tuttle joyfully explores that rich history with bluegrass, bringing her imagination to tales of free spirits and outlaws, weed farmers and cowgirls resulting in a record that is both forward-thinking and steeped in bluegrass heritage.
“I always knew I wanted to make a bluegrass record someday,” says the Nashville-based Tuttle, who began attending bluegrass jams at age eleven. “Once I started writing, everything flowed so easily: sometimes I’ve felt an internal pressure to come up with a sound no one’s heard before, but this time my intention was just to make an album that reflected the music that’s been passed down through generations in my family. I found a way to do that while writing songs that feel true to who I am, and it really helped me to grow as a songwriter.”
Her debut release for Nonesuch Records, Crooked Tree is co-produced by Tuttle and bluegrass legend Jerry Douglas (who also plays Dobro throughout the album); her studio band also includes esteemed musicians like Ron Block (banjo, guitar, harmony vocals), Mike Bub (upright bass), Jason Carter (fiddle), Tina Adair (harmony vocals), and Dominick Leslie,a mandolinist who also performs in Tuttle’s live band, Golden Highway, along with banjo player Kyle Tuttle, fiddle player Bronwyn Keith-Hynes, and bassist Shelby Means. The album features such illustrious guests as Gillian Welch, Margo Price, Billy Strings, Old Crow Medicine Show, Dan Tyminski, and Sierra Hull. Crooked Tree marks a departure from the eclecticism of Tuttle’s critically lauded 2019 full-length debut When You’re Ready and 2020’s …but i’d rather be with you (a covers album that masterfully reinterprets everyone from FKA Twigs to Karen Dalton). Each track showcases Tuttle’s guitar technique, for which she was the first women ever named Guitar Player of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association, as well as her voice—an instrument that shifts from warmly understated to fiercely soulful with equal parts precision and abandon, occasionally treating the listener to some high-spirited yodeling.
Recorded live at Nashville’s Oceanway Studios, Crooked Tree simultaneously honors the bluegrass tradition and pushes the genre into new directions, particularly in its lyrical content. To that end, the album’s freewheeling yet incisive title track references a bit of wisdom once shared by Tom Waits. “There’s a quote where he talks about how a crooked tree might look strange, but in the end, it’s still growing strong after all the other trees get chopped down,” says Tuttle. “I wrote that song partly thinking about all the clear-cutting of forests where I grew up, but it also encapsulates how I feel sometimes with my music. It’s about carving your own path, taking the road less traveled, and not being afraid to do the unexpected.”
Tuttle, who names female bluegrass pioneers like Hazel Dickens among her most enduring touchstones,sings the praises of wild-hearted women throughout Crooked Tree. On the album-opening “She’ll Change,” for instance, her vocals take on a breakneck momentum as she pays homage to the type of woman who fully owns her unabashed complexity. “I’d just covered ‘She’s a Rainbow’ by the Rolling Stones on my last album, and I wanted to write my own song that gives me that same feeling of celebrating femininity,” notes Tuttle, who co-wrote “She’ll Change” with Old Crow frontman Ketch Secor.
The Kody Norris Show
Call it retro, hillbilly, bluegrass or rockabilly, the group strives for something Kody simply calls “dern good entertainment.”
Deeply rooted in North American folk music, Norris has crafted a performance that harkens back and tips a hat to the traditions created by Bill Monroe, Jimmy Martin’s showmanship, the Stanley Brothers’ harmonies, performances of the Grand Ole Opry and a bit of Vaudeville. Top notch picking is center stage, but humor and visual flash are part of the entertaining package. Always clad in colorful, tailored suits adorned with rhinestones, ties, classic hats and ornate boots, the band earns its moniker as a “show.” The brand is traditional, clean cut, acoustic and always entertaining.
The foursome is fronted by Norris on guitar and his fiddling “sweetie,” Mary Rachel Nalley-Norris, Josiah Tyree on banjo and Cousin Charlie Lowman on the bass!
The band’s album, When I Get the Money Made, was named 2017 Bluegrass Album of the Year by the National Traditional Country Music Association. The Kody Norris Show was honored with seven SPBGMA nominations in 2018 and four nominations in 2022. In addition to winning Fiddler performer of the year, the kody norris show was also named the 2022 Entertainer of the Year!
Playing 90+ dates a year, The Kody Norris Show covers the road from Canada to Mexico, only missing two states to date. They’ve been part of the University of Chicago Folk Festival and have performed at the Smithsonian and the Kennedy Center and are part of two weekly programs on the acclaimed RFD-TV’s network, The Cumberland Highlanders Show and The Bluegrass Trail. For more than 3 years, The Kody Norris Show has been the host of the Farm and Fun Time Noon Show. This is also a weekly broadcast through The Birthplace of Country Music Musuem and Radio Bristol, hitting over 5 million Views collectively.
The Kody Norris Show signed with Rebel Records from Charlottesville, VA in 2019 and has since then released, All Suited Up which debuted #7 on the Billboard Charts!