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Washington DC's Premier Site For Bluegrass~Funk~Jamband  Reviews, Interviews & Concert Footage 

May
15
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Fresh off a recent performance with Phil Lesh at Terrapin Crossroads, don’t miss the San Francisco-based band Brothers Comatose who make a rare east coast appearance at Gypsy Sally’s this Thursday May 21st.  This is a return performance for the band having played at Gypsy Sally’s for the first time last July.  The “Brothers”, whose members include actual brothers Ben Morrison (Guitar and Vocals), Alex Morrison (Banjo and Vocals), Ryan Lukas (Bass), Philip Brezina (fiddle) and Ryan Avellone (mandolin) perform a unique style of alt-bluegrass that offers nice harmonies and finely crafted lyrics behind highly energetic performances. While the music feels home-spun and unpretentious, the band plays at a frenzied pace that offers listeners plenty of material to shake the dust from their shoes.  If you can’t make it out to Gypsy Sally’s, the band is scheduled to play two sets at Delfest Memorial Day Weekend in Cumberland, MD, or you can catch them at their only other two east coast performances: July 10th at the Red Wing Music Festival in Mount Solon, VA and Finger Lakes Grassroots Festival on July 18th in Trumansburg, NY. 


 

All Good Presents

 

THE BROTHERS COMATOSE

 

ATOKA CHASE

@ Gypsy Sally's

 

Thu, May 21, 2015

 

Doors: 7:00 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

 

$10 Advance Tickets/$12 Day of Show Tickets


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May
12
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 Honest Music proudly Presents Puma Ptah release date:

The album EP drops May 29th

New Single "One" is out now

Release Party At Tropicalia DC

Thursday June 8th


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Many know Puma Ptah as Ras Puma from being featured with Thievery Corporation, The Archives and even as far back as United Souls and Stable Roots, because of a natural growth, change in beliefs and practices, he decided to start a  solo journey under a new name. 

Born Christopher Smith in St. Thomas US Virgin Islands, and formerly known as Ras Puma, Puma Ptah remembers writing lyrics from as early as elementary school. His earliest musical memories and inspiration include watching an uncle playing upright bass and guitar in local Mento band, and listening to grandmother perform acoustic songs in front of church and before bedtime. He was encouraged to enter cultural competitions to which his uncle Mungo “Magnus” Niles would be honored for being a leader in preserving cultural folk heritage in the VI, and a musical entertainer who toured the US with his cultural dancers and steel band players being featured in several Hollywood movies in the 60’s.   

In 2006 he moved to Virginia where he joined several Virginia based bands which eventually lead to joining the renowned DC based Thievery Corporation and being featured on their 2011 “Culture of Fear” album recording songs "Overstand" and "False Flag Dub". He continues touring with the group gaining more experience while gracing stages at Austin City Limits, Lollapalooza, Ultra Fest, Governor’s Ball, The Greek Theatre, Red Rocks and many more.  In 2012 he was featured on the “The Archives” debut album produced by Eric Hilton of Thievery Corporation with tracks “Who’s Correct” “More to Life” “Sensibility” and more.  Touring throughout countries like Europe, South America, the US and more, Puma developed a passion for photography which gave him another means of emphasizing his lyrics. This passion has lead him to work with non-profits, mentoring and teaching basic photography skills to elementary and high school youth. 

 In 2014 after an official 8 year journey and commitment, Ras Puma decided to take the Ras off his artist title and move forward from the faith. A trip to India convinced him to change his perspectives on humanity in general, identity, and music. In 2015 he added the title “Ptah” which generally represented craftsmanship and the creativity of artisans in Kemetic society, but originated with the ability to transform raw scattered thoughts and ideas, and manifest a dynamic use of organized words and thoughts.   

Puma Ptah is currently recording tracks for the upcoming Thievery Corporation album while moving into the solo world teaming up with Honest Music to release his EP “In One Accord” starting with his single “One” being released on April 10, 2015. "A fundamental sense of oneness of all life can be reached through music but there has to be a base consistent in compassion and empathy", Puma says. Join us as we take this journey. 


http://www.honestmusicdc.com/#!puma-ptah/cscw

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www.honestmusicdc.com

HonestMusicDC Facebook

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May
09
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RISING APPALACHIA: CREATING WIDER CIRCLES

A unique band with a clear mission crisscrosses the country making a powerful impact.

By Steve Houk


Somewhere out there, maybe over the rainbow, or even in the haze of a dream, is a band. A band of troubadours, supremely talented musicians who have made it their primary goal to not only play their extraordinary music for people, but to touch the people they play for much more deeply. In this dream, this band strives to spend more time with their audience, to interact and congregate with them, not just blow into town for a couple hours, do a show, and then scurry out of town on a bus or plane steaming to the next town for another drive-by. And by doing that, they make it their quest to foster a deeper sense of community and unity and understanding, all as they bring a bountiful caravan of modern ideas and organic concepts that show a heartfelt and profound care for their fellow man and their planet along for the ride.


Yeah, wake me up, it's gotta be a dream. Or is it?

Rising Appalachia would tell you it's definitely not a dream, it's all happening right now on their current tour, and in many ways, has for the last ten years since this unique band began their more-than-just-musical journey. Led by breathtakingly alterna-hip sisters Leah Song and Chloe Smith, Rising Appalachia has taken their captivating roots-based folk/rock/world music sound and traveling convoy of social righteousness right to the people, most recently illustrated in their foregoing the road and sky for the rails and traveling town to town by train, all in an effort to not only heal the environment and show the power of rail travel, but to actually better experience the places they play as well as the people they play to. 


"We've always pursued alternative means of being a musician in the music industry," says the engaging and powerfully committed Song. "On the train, we get to actually see the places we're going through, but it also has a social and justice-based component, which is to create a means of travel that brings economy back into small towns, and also public transportation that is affordable. For us, it's a way to be touring that feels much more connected to the communities that we're working with, and a little bit less of this faster, bigger, better, immediate gratification that you see so much in the media, movies and television.  We try to create a context for public experience, a concert, a social gathering that can last longer and be anticipated for longer, and have a longer ripple effect. It's all been really inspiring for us."


Inspiring for them, and refreshing and even exhilarating for their audiences. The dedication, the path, the mission of Leah, Chloe and their Rising Appalachia bandmates David Brown and Biko Casini -- along with bringing their fascinating harmoniously glorious musical concoction to those they play for -- is piercingly crystallized as you talk to, and become somewhat entranced by, the enchanting Song and her pulsating, swirling yet very focused vision. Her bottom line? Rising Appalachia want to be more than just a rock band out there playing music. They want be a passionate force for social change and justice and heightened awareness, but not by preaching to their audience, but informing, educating and enlightening them as part of the overall musician/audience experience.


"I think that a really important part of our process is that we are not preachy, that we are mostly pursuing the voice of an artist, and there's alot of room for creative and artistic interpretation," Song said. "We don't want to be politicians, we don't want to spokespeople, we want to be able to pursue folk music as a living art form, so it's influenced by contemporary culture, and also influenced by the creative process in and of itself. I agree that there's always this component to political art that can be very preachy or dogmatic that says this is the way to change. We have a collective and captive audience, and we want to create a space where dialog is happening, where questions are being asked, where there is a community involvement to our music that goes back to the old fashioned relationship with the artist, the musician being the troubadour and the storyteller taking stories from one town and bringing them to the next. Planting seeds, sharing all this information, and not necessarily coming with the policies or the message, but coming with a whole lot of information, so our audience is free to pick and choose what works for them, what they want to get interested in, what they'd like to get involved in. And we're not dictating that. We're just creating a space where alot of information can be shared."


Rising Appalachia's quest for more of a mutual and beneficial relationship with their audience began a few years ago with what they call the Rise Collective, a method of introducing a variety of causes, campaigns and efforts geared toward positive change, whether it be environmental, social or even somewhat political, as in the case of Song's vehement disdain for (and cry for the reform of) the dysfunctional prison industry in America. Again, Rising Appalachia do not intend to indoctrinate, just provide the opportunity for their audience to see for themselves how change can be a positive force in their lives, but only if they so choose.


"We wanted very much for our work to be bigger than just entertainment and the kind of glitz and glam of rock stardom," Song said. "So the Rise Collective was the title that we took on to just give a platform to all of the elements, our teachers, the educators and activists, and non profits that we work in and work with, to give them a voice and a platform to have exposure and relationship as this was growing. It wasn't exactly the same thing as Rising Appalachia, it's more of a platform for the activism and the workshops and the creative components and the justice components to have a place to also be able to network, and for us to be able to showcase the communities that have helped shape our work and our voice and our vision. And we wanted that to be an acknowledged part of who we are and how we got here. They are separate entities but extremely symbiotic."


Leah and Chloe Smith grew up in Atlanta with caring, involved parents who instilled in them a true global vision, one that said that we are all part of a bigger world community and need to experience that world openly and often. It has clearly stayed with them through their evolution as musicians, and people.


"We were raised in a family that really valued art and creativity, and also social justice," Song continued. "Even though we grew up in downtown Atlanta, we had an incredibly diverse and vibrant social education. And our parents were really active in supplementing what was essentially lacking in the school system by being really involved in our lives. So we had relationships to politics and to travel and to the way that other parts of the world live, and we spent alot of time, our winter times and our Christmas breaks, and we would plan a trip and go and study another place. That was really very much how they wanted us to learn about how to be global citizens. So we were already infused with this relationship to the world being much vaster than America."


From early on, Leah and Chloe clearly had exceptional musical talent, with harmonies that take your breath away, but they never planned on musical careers. College beckoned, and that seemed like the route they'd take. They recorded their first "album" in a day in a friend's basement, and planned on just giving it to friends and family for Christmas, but after people heard it, the two were strongly encouraged to take it farther. Since then, they have produced their own records and garnered a cult following, all the while sticking to their plan of alternative performing, including where they would play and how they would get there and how they would engage. And because it wasn't preordained or expected, their success has been all the sweeter.


"I think because we didn't ever pursue being a band," Song goes on, "we didn't ever have the stress of having to make it, or having to get a certain thing, or really wanting to sign on a label, or needing to tour really heavily. Everything that has come in and been sort of handled accordingly where it's been taken as a gift. We're not the directors of it, so it's always been very much like we're following path that's being laid by a much much greater force than us. Be that the community that comes to listen, or the longer relationship we have to traditional music and the idea that that music still wants to have a voice in contemporary society. But it still hasn't turned, we still haven't hit that moment when we we're like, oh yeah, professional musicians. It's been amazing, every step of the way."


But with their excellent new record "Wider Circles," clearly the most highly produced, succinct and crisply played record of their career so far, things could turn for Rising Appalachia very soon.

"I would say that this album is at a tier professionally, creatively, in its musicality, and the fact is that we're prouder of it than anything we've been involved in. It feels like it's just taken a huge girth of storytelling and of music. I do think this might be a turning point, as far as our creative caliber and maybe its reach as well. We're very very proud of it."

 
 
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Rising Appalachia (L-R, Biko Casini, David Brown, Leah Song and Chloe Smith)

 

 As a symbol of their community-geared mantra, their recent train ride from Louisiana to Texas provided one memorable experience after another that involved creating their own mini-community as the train clicked along through small town after small town.


"There was a group of kids from different places whose parents were all riding, one family was moving from Louisiana to Texas, and another one had just been on a trip and they were on their way back home," Leah fondly recalls. "And all of these kids that were in different cars all met up in the lounge car, and didn't know each other before this train ride and kinda started a little club. We saw turtles and alligators from the ride, it was great. So seeing that people actually have a relationship with each other, and can kind of learn about the stories of other travelers, it was super inspiring. That's something that you don't get when you're in a car or in an airplane, it's such a pass-and-go kind of travel. This really felt like you could have a relationship with the actual act of traveling, and not just the destination you were trying to get to."


Traveling by train to tour has it's challenges, but the band is dedicated to their mission no matter what it takes.

 

"We have a really great relationship with our booking agent, and we've kind of agreed to meet in the middle. They've pushed a few things on us that we'd ideally wanted to do, and we have set some pretty strong parameters about the distances we're willing to travel, the amount of off time we want. We're kind of creating a middleground. From there I think we can continue to fine tune. We're not able to jump straight into an already founded alternative music world, it doesn't exist yet. So we're trying really hard to create it, and foster it and work within the industry so that it becomes more about an awareness and an opportunity to do things differently, and less about us being so much of a hermit in the industry that we don't have a relationship with them. We are connected with the industry, we are gonna end up touring our faces off this year, and we do have a new album, so there are components of it that will stretch us outside of our beliefs and our idealism. And we'll continue to fine the work that we do and the way that we do it, in subtle ways and fast ways and new dialogs around that. I by no means think that we've got it all figured out, but I think we want to foster those conversations alot." 


So don't be surprised if when you see a train passing along through your town this summer, it could be the coolest, hippest train around, the Rising Appalachia Express, carrying the wondrous Leah and her fellow minstrels through the small towns of America on their way to their own beautifully realized promised land. 


"We are a people-powered world," Leah likely says with a wide smile and a heart filled with wonder. "And the way we can move in collectivity, that can support everything from environmental sustainability to empowerment and beyond. We're all about just bringing all of these dialogs to the table. This idea that we have a very disconnected culture, and that each element of reconnecting is a strength for all of us."

Rail, YEAH. 


Rising Appalachia performs Sunday May 17th at The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria VA , 22305.

 

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May
01
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Asheville’s Tellico Debuts with Relics and Roses, Due Out June 2nd


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Tellico takes you on a journey through the modern 
Appalachian soundscape, with masterful storytelling and memorable instrumental and vocal performances that wed tradition 
with a contemporary Americana sensibility
 
ASHEVILLE, NC -- Tellico independently releases their debut album Relics and Roses on June 2, 2015The album features the singing and songwriting ofAnya Hinkle (guitar, fiddle) and Stig Stiglets (bass), and showcases Aaron Ballance on dobro and pedal and lap steel and Jed Willis on mandolin and clawhammer banjo. Guitar virtuoso Jon Stickley (Jon Stickley Trio) produced the album and makes a few guest appearances with drums and guitar. 

The album is available now for pre-order at Tellicoband.com and includes an immediate download of the leading track, “Backstep Blues,” which is also available to stream now at the band’s website. Firmly planted in Asheville NC's thriving roots music scene, Tellico is well schooled in bluegrass but with an unbridled organic “Appalachiacana” sound, combining some of the finest voices, songs and instrumental prowess in western North Carolina and beyond. Anya and Stig's committed, authentic vocals are alloyed with Aaron's flowing and soaring dobro and Jed's textured and expressive mandolin, rooted in the mountain music they grew up with while pushing tradition into a modern Americana sound aesthetic.
 
Storytelling is at the helm of Tellico’s music. All of the songs on Relics and Roses were penned by Hinkle and Stiglets with the exception “White Line-River of Pride,” a Neil Young and Crazy Horse medley of two dirty electric rock tunes buttoned up bluegrass-style. The leading track, “Backstep Blues” [Hinkle] has a “backstep”, a rhythmic hiccup that is typical of old time music, telling the story of a man’s successive retreat from his wife (with the refrain “hey where did your daddy go wrong?”), leaving her with the “backstep blues.” “Calamity”, written by Stiglets, is a tale of disaster sparked by a combination of Hurricane Katrina and Japan’s 2011 tsunami, and the destructive and terrifying images of those events. 
 
“Forsaken Winds” is poetry unto itself with the ethereal sounds of Ballance’s pedal steel filling in the spirit of the lyrics; while “Hawkeye Pierce and Honeycutt Blues” is a tongue and cheek raggy romp in an Asheville street busker’s shoes. “You Can’t Go Home Again” is inspired by Asheville author Thomas Wolfe’s book of the same name. Anya found the book to be so richly descriptive in Wolfe’s longwinded style, especially when the protagonist DOES go home again, which she said, “reminded me of something that my dad always used to say: ‘you can’t go home again’! Of course you can’t. The comforting idea of home is just that, an idea. You have to face yourself and your life. Running from it, either to home or far away from it, doesn’t alleviate your suffering.”
 
“Mexico 1995” is a coming-of-age story penned by Hinkle after a solo four month journey, mostly by bus, from Nogales, Arizona through Guatemala and back. It was before the internet, before cell phones, and after a grisly war and genocide in southern Mexico and Guatemala, a real eye opener for a kid, all during the winter after Jerry Garcia died. Hinkle says, “That early morning that I walked back, on foot, into my post-college privileged American life after crossing the border at Nogales was like a dream, I was a ghost in my own shoes, my idea of who I was as porous as the haze that seemed to linger that entire day that I re-emerged.” The song uses samples from iconic songs that set up the general feeling that it’s all been done before. Hinkle reflects, “Where does a kid go with that? What’s ahead that’s worth anything?” 
Relics and Roses is the first since Anya, Stig, and Aaron formed Tellico after recording four records with the Asheville-based bluegrass band Dehlia Low, whose final album Ravens and Crows was released on the Rebel Records label in 2011. 
 
“I love how the songs on Relics and Roses sound with these musicians covering all details that I didn’t even realize I was longing to hear. The band’s rich playing overlays absolutely perfectly with the meanings of the songs, whether playful and amusing or searching, haunting and lonely,” says Hinkle.

What Folks are Saying About Relics and Roses:

"With deep warm tones, intimate vocals, vivid lyrics, natural arrangements, and emotional solos Tellico masterfully draws the listener into the center of their original songs. Relics and Roses paints a cinematic picture, continually stirring feelings of nostalgia. Through their wonderful musicianship they never fail to create an atmosphere that perfectly enhances their storytelling.  I love this CD!" --Chad Manning of the David Grisman Bluegrass Experience

“....wonderfully original mountain music. Sometimes they sound like what Kate Wolf would sound like had she come from the Southern Appalachians – a beloved image if you ask me.” --Martin Anderson, Music Director & Morning Host WNCW-FM

“The album of mostly original songs is superbly orchestrated and delivered taking the listener on an auditory odyssey that ranges from soulful and deep to upbeat and euphoric. Anya, Aaron, Stig, and Jed have woven a tapestry that is timeless and authentic and deserving of your attention.” 
--Steve Johnson, Event Producer/Artist Relations Manager, Wilkesboro, NC

"Tellico picks up where Dehlia Low left off, focusing and refining their sound.Relics and Roses is... step forward in songwriting, with Anya Hinkle and Greg ‘Stig’ Stiglets crafting an acoustic soundscape of Appalachian daydreams that stack up to the works of John Hartford, Emmylou Harris and the Avett Brothers. Songs like ‘I Want To Know’ reach out and grab you immediately… a captivating album."  --Joe Kendrick, WNCW Program Director 88.7 FM 

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Track Listing For 
Relics and Roses
1. Backstep Blues (3:42) AH
2. Calamity (4:28) GS
3. Can’t Go Home Again (4:20) AH  
4. I Want To Know (3:44) GS
5. Ever What They Say (4:17) AH
6. Hawkeye Pierce & Honeycutt Blues (3:27) GS
7. Forsaken Winds (6:25) AH
8. Mexico 1995 (3:45) AH
9. Morning Haze (4:01) GS
10. Lean Into It (3:05) GS
11. White Line/River of Pride (3:50) Neil Young

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Apr
29
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The 2015 Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival

Druid Hill Park

Baltimore MD.

By Cliff Tyler

 

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Druid Hill Park

Photo © Josh Burch


Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival held their 3rd annual event on April 25th 2015 in Baltimore Md.  The day was a little blustery and grey clouds mostly hid the sun, but the music was red hot and the crowd came out in force to celebrate the beginning of festival season.  With two years of fine lineups in the books, this year’s cast certainly set the bar even higher for the future.  Offering top notch local and regional touring acts from the Baltimore\Washington area as well as national headliners, this event has proven that it can be relied upon to supply the finest pickin year after year.


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H.P. Rawlings Conservatory 

Photo © Josh Burch

 

The event is held in Baltimore’s Druid Hill Park, right next to the Zoo.  A main stage and side stage were set up at the foot of a small hill, creating a perfect natural amphitheater.  Beautiful landscape and the almost gothic H.P. Rawlings Conservatory surround the concert area creating a wonderful environment.  A small side field contained the VIP tent, merch, and multiple food and craft vendors. Local artisans offered creations ranging from clothes and jewelry, to delicious jerky and beautiful musical instruments. Uniquely hand made food was available as well as a classic “we got it all” type of place that cranked out funnel cakes and corn dogs like a machine.


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Grand Ole' Ditch

Photo © Josh Burch

 

This year’s festivities kicked off bright and early at 10am with Fried Pickin, the winner of the band competition. The vein of local talent continued with excellent sets from The Herd of Main Street, Letitia Vansant, The Manly Deeds, Chester River Runoff, Charm City Junction and a really cool swinging folk band called Bumper Jacksons. One of the finest performances of the day came from western Maryland’s own, Grand Ole’ Ditch. This is their second consecutive year at the festival and they have continued to blossom into an amazing band that is never to be missed. They literally played the sun out and made it shine! Local favorite Cris Jacobs also fronted a band of all-star local musicians that played a set later in the day to get the crowd primed for the headliner.


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Cris Jacobs

Photo © Josh Burch

 

When it comes to classic bluegrass there are only a few groups left that still play it the way that it was meant to be played and not many do it finer than Seldom Scene. These fellas may be grandfathers but they can out pick almost anybody in the game.  Their tight harmonies and jubilant compositions are made of pure grassy magic.  True to their name, you don’t get many chances to see them and this was a great opportunity to experience their music.


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Sceldom Scene

Photo © Josh Burch

 

Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen has been garnering a lot of acclaim and collected a few shiny trophies over the last couple of years.  Their recent accolades include: multiple IBMA nominations including being awarded 2014 Instrumental Group of the Year, a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album, and winning 8 out of 9 categories they were nominated for at the 2015 WAMMIES.  Their lineup also includes Mike Munford, IBMA’s 2013 Banjo Player of the Year.  All acclaim aside this group rocks and has been touring all over the country and playing the finest festivals in between.


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Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen

Photo © Josh Burch

 

An early afternoon of great music drifted toward evening. Everybody was having a blast and the crowd was great, but it isn’t really festival season until you’ve got your dance on.  The Wood Brothers get my award for First Boogie of 2015. From their first note to their last the bros exuded pure musical energy.  In a world of 5 and 6 piece bands this group redefines the term power trio. Classic guitar, bass, and percussion drives their unique sound creating hints of jam, rock n’ roll, and jazz.  Quite possibly the farthest stretch from the “Americana” genre on the bill, they do include upright bass, their drummer did perform on an interesting looking acoustic guitar that had been converted into a percussion instrument, and the band did sheepishly offer a stellar take on the bluegrass standard “Fox on the Run”. If you have ears that work and a booty that shakes go see this band. You will not be disappointed.

 

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The Wood Brothers

Photo © Josh Burch

 

2015’s headliner Travelin’ McCourys came out with their pick game strong and took it right to the house. Basically the Del McCoury Band sans Del, it’s no secret that these fellas can hold their own when big poppa isn’t around. With the sun fully set and the temperatures sinking, bluegrass rhythms warmed the night.  The audience thinned lightly, but the serious fans were there to stomp their feet and hoot n’ holler.  Rumors of a special guest filled the air as the band played on. Not long after an intense run through Ronnie McCourys’s tune “Baltimore Johnny”, festival organizers took the stage for an announcement. Unfortunately the show had to be cut short due issues beyond the control of management. The situation was explained, the crowd collectively understood, and the event came to a quick end with a happy applause and thoughts and promises for next year.

 

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The Travelin McCourys

Photo © Josh Burch

 

Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival has set the standard for outdoor events in the Baltimore area. Beautiful location, killer lineups, and reasonable ticket prices make this a festival that you will want to go to. An event designed by people who love music, for people who love music is what makes sure you will keep coming back.


Photo Gallery By Josh Burch 


 

Cosmic Vibes Live would like to give a shout out and thank you to Phil Chorney and Jordan August at Baltimore Management Agency for their hard work and dedication to the Baltimore music scene and The City Of Baltimore. As music fans with a love for Baltimore and it's music scene we truly appreciate your efforts. The positive buzz on social media this past week about the vibe and talent is an indication that the Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival is nothing short of top notch and here to stay as a staple in Baltimore City. Keep up the great work you guys, we can’t wait to be back at Druid Hill Park for the 2016 Charm City Bluegrass Festival. 


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