What separates Del Fest from every other festival? Why have you come for 5 years?
Delfest to me is about family. This word is overused at every single festival or gathering in the world, but this is the real deal. It shows what people getting together an accomplish and have the best time ever.. I wish I would have went all 9 years!! Delfest and the Del McCoury family do so much for the community in Allegheny County, Cumberland and the music community alike and that far exceeds what it means to myself and so many others. It IS my favorite weekend of the year without a doubt..
Could you describe the landscape and the people at Del Fest?
From looking at images of Delfest and the beautiful area of Maryland, which is rarely seen.. The obvious point is mountains and rivers that create and carve the landscape behind the fairground and border of MD and WV; the landscape of people who go here is something else that is hard to explain. It is such a natural place full of beauty, and adding music to the mountain and valley makes it a spiritual place second to none. Many friends I have who live near larger mountains or rivers don’t believe this place is in MD very close to the cities of DC and Baltimore and more. Close proximity to people but so untouched and organic.
Which year did you decide to shoot Del Fest?
I did last year for Live Music Daily thankfully in 2015 and it was the first time I actually felt my photography was good and was going somewhere positive after months of not really getting it, and now on year two it will be the best yet!
The atmosphere and energy of these string bands hosted by a legend like Del McCoury is one of the most highly spoken of festivals in the country, period. Could you tell us about how Del’s music came into your life? You told me you recently saw him play with your grandfather?
Del McCoury is someone I vividly remember hearing in my childhood. I didn’t realize how much he would mean to me until a little bit later. Bluegrass was my first real concert with Seldom Scene so it has followed me throughout my life luckily and continues to evolve into something amazing. He is a living legend and the coolest part is he rides around Delfest in his golf cart or motorcycle and is so approachable and a real cool and genuine person who gives back so much and always willing to talk to fans! He is the face behind Delfest and his whole family is a part of the event in some form helping out and making it flow. It was one of the best concerts of my life getting to see Del play Woody Guthrie in my hometown of Frederick, Md with my grandfather just over a month ago. He has been to two Delfest’s in 2013 and 2014 and my dad has attended two also and my mom. My grandpa has cancer and hasn’t been able to go to the last two sadly so that Del show meant a lot because it will have to count as us going to Delfest this summer. Im hopeful and know he will be able to go to another one someday!
What are the 5 top sets you plan to attend and why?
Infamous Stringdusters Mainstage with Nicki Bluhm, Greensky Bluegrass, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bruce Hornsby, and a tie between Railroad Earth or Fruition.. All of the bands I have ever seen multiple times at Delfest, club shows, or have a special place in my heart, and if you don’t know why.. Check them out and you will see! Although these are the larger acts, sometimes smaller bands during the early afternoon will blow your mind.
What are sets we need to make sure we don’t miss, rising talents? Where have you seen some of these smaller acts and what do you like most about them?
Definitely Grand Ole Ditch, they’re Cumberland, MD natives and play some really good bluegrass and are awesome guys! Fruition really speaks to me as much as any band lately, I’ve listened to and seen them at The Festy and Susquehanna Breakdown last week. Horseshoes and HandGrenades as well, they played in 2014 and saw them this year with Greensky and are super energetic and fun! I have never seen Lil’ Smokies, but I love my friends from Montana and their bluegrass so they will be awesome too, very much looking forward to that. Elephant Revival Thursday will be really spiritual also I feel and of course one of my favorite bands and albums ever is Tommy by The Who, so The Hillbenders playing that album in bluegrass will be nothing short of epic for late night! Never miss a Del McCoury show or any late nights either!
What are you favorite moments in Del History? Sit ins?
Number one has to be String Cheese at Delfest in 2014, that is something I literally manifested for a year and got wind from a member of their crew that they would be in the area for it. So stoked! Sit ins from Joe Craven (festival MC and all around talented guy) the entire McCoury Band, Pete Wernick and Tim O’Brien from Hot Rize and Jeff Austin all sat in for a super weird and awesome set. Trey Anastasio and Del playing in 2013 to go back to their Camp Oswego set many years ago with him and Phish. Greensky and Del in 2013 on Midnight Blues, seeing Jason Isbell last year completely kicking ass last year. The last good Yonder Mountain String Band show in 2013 with Jeff and them closing out the festival watching with my entire family. Del and David Grisman last year performing an old school set and telling stories. Leftover Salmon and The Stringdusters picking on the early hours (sunrise) directly after their late night sets was super super cool! Leftover Salmon last year with Billy Payne, Del and Tim O’Brien is a great one. And any sit in at a late night that I forgot about, so many memories but those really stick in my mind from recent memory!
What is so special about the late nights?
Just the venue, it’s an old multi purpose showroom they use for the county fair that has tractors and this weird architecture; clearly not made for music at all but it just rocks! Getting so many people in there from the hours of 12am-4am and so on after a full day of music is something amazing. Not sure how to explain it and how everyone just connects and the musicians really bring it their all; they play amazing sets on the mainstage or Potomac respectably, but the late night shows are amazing. Each year of Delfest my favorite or second favorite show occurred in the early hours of the Music Hall. Don’t miss out! Find a ticket however you can and you will see why!