Dangermuffin performs at Sleepy Creek HarFest 2019. (Photos by Chester Simpson; Words by Michael Tucker)
Sleepy Creek HarFest: The Place Where We Belong
Each time I go to Sleepy Creek, it feels like coming home. Although I attend a few bigger festivals each year featuring the bleeps, bloops, and synth-knob twiddling of Jamtronica I love so much, Sleepy Creek owns my heart. It’s like that favorite worn in pair of jeans that fit just right or a pair of super comfy pajama pants perfect for lounging at home. Just as importantly, the truly wonderful people who run, staff, and attend Sleepy Creek Presents events create the perfect environment for family, fun, creativity, connection, enjoyment of musical artistry as diverse as the American landscape, and, perhaps most importantly, Sleepy Creek gives festival attendees a place where they can be themselves.
During my weekend adventure at HarFest 2019 in Berkeley Springs, West Virginia, on Oct. 4-6, I saw a bumper sticker on an RV that sums up my experience; it read: “There is no alternative to being yourself” — and Sleepy Creek is exactly that: a place where we can be ourselves, a place where we belong.
Rhiannon Giddens and Francesco Turrisi (Photo by Karen Cox)
Banjo player, fiddler, and singer Rhiannon Giddens, accompanied by Italian multi-instrumentalist Francesco Turrisi, entertained, educated, and amazed a spell-bound crowd in the Kennedy Center’s Terrace Theater recently.
- Larry Keel performs at the 2019 Watermelon Park Festival on Sept. 20, 2019. (Photo by Chester Simpson/ Rock-N-RollPhotos.com)
The 16th Annual Watermelon Park Fest a three day music festival, was held at the Watermelon Park Campground near Berryville, Virginia. It’s located on the banks of the beautiful Shenandoah River on Sept. 19-22 with music, camping, as well as canoeing, kayaking and inner-tube floats and late night jam sessions around the campfire. Nothing better!
Robbie Fulks (Photo by Andy Goodwin)
Bloodshot artist Robbie Fulks had a special treat for his audience at Jammin’ Java recently. With him on tour was the distinguished violinist/fiddler (they’re actually the same instrument!) and singer-songwriter Jenny Scheinman. The two have a working relationship that dates back to at least 2013, appearing on each other’s albums. Each individually talented, they gelled together perfectly for the best duo performance I’ve seen this year.
The Way Down Wanderers (Photo by Keith Cotton)
Hailing from Peoria, Illinois, The Way Down Wanderers play bluegrass-inflected music that pulls also from classic rock influences. Following the release of sophomore album Illusions, the band performs at Jammin’ Java on Wednesday, Sept. 25.
The late Doc Watson performs on July 11, 2019. (Photo by Joe Giordano)
Doc Watson was a musical giant. With a repertoire spanning bluegrass, folk, country, blues and gospel, his knowledge of traditional music was held in the highest regard. The seven-time Grammy award winner, and winner of a Lifetime Achievement Award, was considered a master of fingerstyle and flatpicking guitar. As was brought up at the “Remembering Doc” show at The Birchmere recently, he also had perfect pitch, and sung husky, rough-hewn vocals.
Jessica Willis Fisher performs at Appaloosa Festival over Labor Day weekend. (Photo by Chester Simpson)
“There are no strangers here, only friends who have not yet met.” — William Butler Yeats.
That quote from Yeats opened the program for the 2019 Appaloosa Festival, which invited friends of all stripes to Skyline Ranch Resort in Front Royal, Virginia, over Labor Day weekend for a gathering of bluegrass, folk, Americana, Celtic rock, and more! Parklife DC’s Chester Simpson captured the action on film.