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Little Roy and LIzzie
Big Country Bluegrass
Spinney Brothers and more
The eighth annual NEPA Bluegrass Festival, set for Thursday to Sunday, May 28 to 31, will bring an impressive lineup of traditional bluegrass artists to Tunkhannock, PA, while continuing to make room for additional musicians who experiment with and offer a progressive unique take on the classic American genre.
Featuring two stages and highlighting a variety of artists is what helps the NEPA Bluegrass Festival in Lazy Brook Park at Tunkhannock, PA stand out from similar events, according to festival organizers Christa Stewart and her husband and seasoned musician Danny Stewart Sr.
Among the acts who will grace the main stage this year are the Boxcars, featuring Adam Steffy and Ron Stewart. The award-winning band wowed NEPA Bluegrass patrons during several shows last year and the Stewarts are proud to bring them back. “They are at the top of their game right now in Nashville,” said Christa.
She is also excited about scheduled performances by Nothin Fancy from Virginia, who are slated to headline the 2016 Bluegrass Cruise, which the Stewarts also coordinate. The band, led by Mike Andes and relatively young in their 20s and 30s, offers a mix of covers and originals. “They have a broad base appeal and a huge following,” Christa noted. “Anybody who knows bluegrass loves Nothin Fancy.”
Over a knoll and out of hearing range from the main stage, local and regional bands who employ drums, steel guitars, keyboards and other non-traditional bluegrass elements will exhibit their unique talents at another pavilion. “There are no rules,” Danny said of the folk, country, rock and alternative musicians on the progressive stage who take some liberties with their pickin’. “Instrument wise, I welcome them to go crazy.” Among those who perform along the creek will be The Coal Town Rounders from Scranton and Driftwood from the Binghamton, NY, area. The latter is slated for two sets on Friday evening. “They started as a garage bluegrass band and they exploded,” Christa said of Driftwood’s quick rise to prominence along New York’s southern tier and elsewhere. “There are so many different flavors and styles,” Danny noted. “Most festivals that I go to are traditional, and everything starts to sound the same. That’s why we have the progressive stage.” The Coal Town Rounders are also relatively young and play a high-energy traditional bluegrass music that appeals to young fans, Christa noted.
Appealing to all age groups and taking turns on both stages are returning act Hillbilly Gypsies, who offer a constantly shifting lineup and joyfully employ props and a variety of instruments.
For four days, the scenic park takes on the essence of a neighborly community separate from the rest of the world rushing by on nearby Route 6. A growing number of attendees opt to purchase weekend passes which include free camping. Between taking in shows, guests love walking the park’s pathways, wading in the refreshing waters of Tunkhannock Creek, and taking photos of family members with unique wood carvings and totem poles. The Stewarts are as interested in preserving that serenity as they are in encouraging others to enjoy it. “It’s definitely a family oriented thing, and that’s how I want to keep it,” Danny maintains. “I don’t want to make it a party scene.” Christa is happy to report that more local people plan this year to join those from out of state in making the festival a home away from home for a few days. Advanced sales have been brisk, she noted, and include many people from Wyalusing, Tunkhannock, and Laceyville. “It’s so healthy to have an outdoor venue,” she added. “And it’s super cool to be outside for music.”
As she and her husband work to improve every aspect of the festival, they have noticed that NEPA Bluegrass is drawing families for the overall experience, which includes Kids Corner activities on Saturday; a wide variety of food and wares to purchase from hand-picked vendors; music workshops for novice guitar, fiddle, and banjo players; a singer-songwriter workshop; an instrument maintenance workshop and a tent where minor repairs can be done during the festival. “People can learn how to change their own strings and how to do minor repairs to their instruments,” Christa said of workshops conducted by regular vendor Dave Strunk. He teaches basic maintenance, and offers onsite repairs for our pickers.”
In recent years, the Stewarts decided to add a yoga workshop. As it turned out, the musicians loved it. “When you are picking all night long, cramped up in a chair around a camp fire, you are not in a good position and you get sore,” Christa noted. The session is held at 10 a.m. on the bank of the creek. “You don’t have to be a bluegrass fan to go to NEPA Bluegrass and have a good time,” Christa said of the multi-faceted festival. But, with a wink in her eye, she admits that those who arrive with an open mind are likely to leave loving bluegrass music and wanting more.
Gates and campsites open on Thursday morning. Tickets and a complete list of scheduled performers and their itinerary are available online at www.nepabluegrass.com. Readers may also look for updates at Nepa Bluegrass on Facebook or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. – at LazyBrook Park.
Striped Maple Hollow is a four-piece group from Johnstown, Pennsylvania, who can best be described as an Americana band. Our repertoire leans heavily on folk, bluegrass, and country music, with originals and rock n roll favorites from all eras mixed in as well.
Hailing from the beautiful Mountain State of West Virginia, The Hillbilly Gypsies have been making and performing their own brand of old time bluegrass and original mountain music for over a decade! Formed in 2001 from a chance meeting at the now infamous Wednesday night old time jam in Morgantown, WV; The Hillbilly Gypsies have been pickin’ n’ grinnin’ and entertaining their loyal fans ever since.
The band is best known for their high-energy live performances and have become a crowd favorite at major festivals, fairs and concert venues all across the mid-Atlantic region and abroad. They perform in the old fashioned style, playing around a single vintage ribbon microphone. This “Old Timey” approach adds an authentic high-energy barn party atmosphere to their show. Watching the whole band work around the mic is like taking a trip back in time. It’ll sure make you want to get up and dance!
..and don’t let the flash of their lively stage performance and choreography fool ya, these folks are all highly skilled musicians and seasoned entertainers! Their lightning fast award-winning picking skills and musical arrangements mixed with natural comedic wit and high lonesome mountain vocal harmonies are sure to catch your ear right away. Combine that with a knack for original songwriting and a strong passion for old time and traditional music and this makes for an all-around authentic and exciting musical experience that you won’t soon forget. One listen and you’ll know that you are getting the real deal! The Gypsies are more than a band; they are a tight knit family, mindful of tradition but bold explorers of new and authentic styles of acoustic music and entertainment!
Goldwing Express is made up of Three Native American brothers and their father. A segment of their performance is dedicated for their Indian Heritage. Each Brother wears his very own Native American Headdress which represents the Creek Indian Tribe from which their Mother is from. This family music show comes from Okmulgee, Oklahoma. Now the family resides in Branson, Missouri producing their own music show along with many appearances throughout the United States and into Canada.
Bob Baldridge, the father plays mandolin and sings lead for the group. He also does a lot of the comedian work for Goldwing Express. His music career began early when he and his Brothers and Sister sang in the early 70’s and 80’s. The family would gather at Grandmothers house and have all day singing’s. Bob wanted to form his own family band shortly after.
Along came Paul, Steven, and Shawn. Paul is the eldest son. He sings high tenor and plays the guitar for Goldwing Express. Paul does more of the traditional bluegrass singing for the group. Paul has won several awards throughout his career.
Steven is the middle age son, who sings mostly baritone and plays the banjo. Steven loves to put Gospel music in the show and wows the crowd with his traditional sounds on the banjo. He is also responsible for the management of Goldwing Express.
Shawn is the youngest Brother, he plays the upright bass fiddle and sings all the low end notes. Crowds gather to here Shawn sing songs like “Hello Darlin”, “Lay you down”, and “Long Black Train”. He likes to spice things up a little bit by sounding off a long train whistle from his voice!
Their Mother was a full blood Native American Creek Indian from Oklahoma. Along with Bob, they both decided to buy instruments for the boy’s. Twenty five years later, they are headlining most Bluegrass Festivals and various styles of concerts around the United States.
The name Goldwing Express came from their Mother. We used to ride Honda Gold Wing’s in the late 80’s. That’s when Mom decided to name us the “Goldwing Express”.
The family also performs in Branson, Missouri throughout the year. This year we’ll average over 250 show dates across the country. We travel Nation Wide in a 2004 Entertainer Prevost Coach. Goldwing Express is all about entertaining folks. We love and strive to make folks happy when they come to see Goldwing Express in concert.
Idletymes offers a unique blend of hard driving, straight forward bluegrass music with tight, core harmonies and boasts an impressive portfolio of original songs. The band has been performing throughout the eastern US since 1985. Comprised of talented musicians with a strong foundation steeped in bluegrass roots, blended harmonies and soulful infulences creates an undeniable sound that will leave you wanting more. Diverse in style and range, Idletymes delivers with great musicianship and true emotion in their vocals. Traditional, New Grass and Gospel, there’s something for everyone! Chris Long: Idletymes’ primary lead singer, songwriter and guitar player has a long musical background that began at the age of nine. By 14, Chris joined his first bluegrass band which evolved into learning how to play the dobro, mandolin and guitar. Endorsed by Eddie Gray Guitars, Chris is known for his unique style of playing. Chris makes his home in Point Pleasant, WV with his wife Shannon; two daughters Ashlynn and Jessilynn; a son Philip (who also loves playing guitar); 3 gold fish; a cat (hardly worth mentioning); and of course, Darby, their miniature Schnauzer who has become the band’s mascot. Darby’s fans keep track of him onFacebook and at the festivals. Ronnie Seebaugh: Banjo playing extrordiaire, begain playing banjo at the age of 12, thanks to his musical parents who performed gospel for many years. Ronnie’s interest in music expanded into learning how to play the mandolin, the trumpet and bass, before Joining his first band at the age of 13. Ronnie became a full time member of Idletymes in 2007. Endorsed by Mitch Banjos, Ronnie teaches banjo, guitar and mandolin at Gallagher Music in Parkersburg, WV since 1995. Ronnie resides in Parkersburg, WV with his wife Connie, two sons, Daniel and Christopher. Gary “Craig” Jarvis: Bass player and tenor vocalist found his passion for playing the doghouse-bass in 1997 with the help of a long time friend and accomplished guitarist, the late, Greg Hart. Born into a family wtih a deep appreciation and musical awareness steeped in bluegrass and traditional roots music, this set the stage for a life long pursuit. In 2007, Craig became an official member of the Idletymes band. He and his wife, Ticia are the proud parents of their 3 children, Haylli, Collin and Kara and a very precocious granddaughter, Harper. Bruce Jones followed in his father, Everett’s shoes as a bluegrass musician. At the ripe old age of five, he began to play the mandolin and at 11, the banjo. It wasn’t long before Bruce earned the recognition as the 2002 Vandalia Banjo Champion, along with a number of awards throughout the Mountain State. Being a true multi-instrumentalist, Bruce acquired a dobro and is known best for his signatory guitar “licks” fans love on his custom built Eddie Gray Dobro. Bruce became an official member of the Idletymes band in February 2013. Musical affiliations include West Virginia bands such as the Bluegrass Travelers, Break Mountain, Whittaker Station and No One You Know, of which he recorded two albums with on Mountain Fever Records.
We are a family who absolutely loves Jesus and bluegrass music so when you put them together, you have a great way to serve God, bless people and enjoy being a family. We have been “Having the Best Time” of our lives since Jesus saved our souls. We love Jesus because He’s so much more than Our Savior. He’s our friend, our strength, our navigator, our all in all. We love bluegrass because it’s so much more than music. It’s friends that become family, people sharing life and blessing one another, our inheritance, our legacy and our way of bringing love and light into the world.
We are a family of six, with Daddy Chris Klein making it all possible by working so hard and supporting us in every way he can. The rest of us sing lead and harmony and play a variety of instruments. DeAnna Klein, 19, plays fiddle and guitar. Shawn Luke Klein, 16, plays banjo, Dobro® and guitar. Sylvia Klein, 12, plays mandolin and guitar. Clara Klein, 9, plays fiddle and guitar. Mama Liberty Klein plays upright bass. All of us began lessons with Rick Campbell in 2010, started playing with a young bluegrass musicians group in 201 land by 2012, we were playing as The Klein Family. We play a variety of bluegrass music at various venues and write and perform original material.
We really hope something that we’ve recorded on our CD blesses you and touches your heart. If something lifts you up, then we’ve done what we set out to do. We love meeting new people and hope to see you soon. Making new friends and keeping the old is one of our greatest blessings . God be with you, my friend.
We love everybody. You’re next!
“Show love in all that you do.”
1 Corinthians 16:14
GINA ROSS (Guitar & Vocals) was born in the Lehigh Valley and lived in Nashville, Tennessee for 16 years where she performed original country music and was a frequent guest on the Ralph Emory Show. She is a gifted songwriter and one of her songs “Jesus in My Soul” was recorded by country music legend Johnny Cash.
KEITH KESTER (Bass & Vocals) was born in the Lehigh Valley and fell in love with bluegrass music at a very early age. No stranger to the stage, Keith has performed several times at Musicfest and regional bluegrass festivals.
PAUL SPRIET (Banjo & Vocals) was born in New Jersey and lists Earl Scruggs, Bill Keith and Alan Munde as his influences. He has been playing banjo for over 40 years and teaches banjo in his spare time.
BILL PARKER (Mandolin, Dobro & Guitar) grew up in Rochester, NY now living in the Bethlehem, area. He caught the bluegrass bug about 5 years ago when he started playing the mandolin. With a hard-charging, high energy style, he puts passion into every note he plays. Primary influences are his father, Ronnie McCoury, Ricky Skaggs, Shawn Lane & Jesse Cobb. In addition to mandolin, Bill also plays guitar, bass & dobro. Preferred brands are Martin Guitars, Loar & Eastman Mandolins