Delfest 2010 Cumberland, MD: Friday (Evening)

Article & Photos By J-man

The name Del McCoury is synonomous with greatness, class, and some of the best music that the bluegrass genre has to offer. In it's third year, Delfest brought to the table some of the best acts on the bluegrass/festival scene; mixing traditional bluegrass with newgrass, jamgrass, sacred steel, gospel and more to host one hell of a pickin' party!

Friday May 28th, 2010:

Arriving Just as Del's set began on Friday, my girlfriend and I pulled into the waterlogged Allegany County Fairgrounds, spoke with some very helpful staff regarding camping and rushed over to the stage to catch the host band. I have to say; I'm the guy who has to be at the festival as soon as it opens, as to not miss a second of the happenings. However, due to cicumstantial obligations we were unable to make it to the Festival until Friday night, causing me to miss Thursday evening as well as Friday's day sets. Arriving on-site took all of the stress off of my shoulders and I was ready to take in the festival weekend.

You could feel the discouraged vibes as folks sloshed through the mud going to and from the main stage. There was mud as far as the eye could see. As we wandered around the outside of the crowd to the "VIP/Friends & Family" entrance we found ourselves jumping and walking odd patterns to maintain dryness for as long as possible. Passing through the entrance we found a similar situation in the VIP area including the reserved area in front of the stage.

The saving grace of the evening was none other than Del McCoury. He joked with the crowd and took away the thoughts of rain with his infectious smile. As soon as Del began the next song, all was right at the Fairgrounds. We caught the tail end of the set and as was expected,the Del McCoury Band was joined by a couple of guests; Bobby Hicks and Bobby Osborne. I was thrilled to hear the boys do "Blue Moon of Kentucky", my night was made.

Del McCoury Band Live at DelFest May 28, 2010.

After the Del McCoury set, we wandered back to establish camp and get settled in for the weekend. We were camped across from the large air conditioned building that would play host to the late-night shows (as well as provide the best option for restrooms and showers for the weekend). As we walked past, we peeked in to see Trampled By Turtles sound checking.

We slowly made our way back over to the muddy main stage to catch the Avett Brothers. As we entered the VIP area we noticed the McCourys backstage, dining. Approximately two songs was all it took and we were headed back to our camp for a cold beverage and some taking in of the surroundings. We passed by the late-night ticket booth and checked our credentials. Apparently, we had not made the late-night credential list. This is the point at which the staff of Delfest appeared to go above and beyond that of a typical festival. The gentleman asked who my contact was and within a minute he had everything squared away. I was impressed.

The crowd out front of the late-night venue, began to swell as I could only assume the Avett Brothers had finished their set. The doors opened and folks began to head in. The sound of Trampled By Turtles resonated as the doors of the venue opened and with that we headed in. Trampled By Turtles was extremely high energy and extremely rhythmic. Per usual, the seated group put everything they had into their set and brought the people what they came for; a good time.

Railroad Earth followed suit, bringing some really explorative jams. The folks inside of the venue were tearing it up and reciprocating the energy. We stepped outside to utilize the immaculate restrooms located on the side of the large event center. As we we shuffled along towards the entrance we ran into Ronnie McCoury. He seemed to be feeling really good and caught me off guard by recognizing me. I was shocked and impressed at the same time. We parted ways after a long conversation and returned to the dance floor. Ronnie had beaten us back inside and had joined the band, slinging his mandolin and a grin. The highlight of the set for me, was "Long Way to Go" as well as the welcomed spacey jams. Railroad Earth has really grown on me and I thought the set was a good closer for the evening of music, ending around 3:45 am.

Railroad Earth Live at DelFest (Late-Night) May 28, 2010.

As many know, when the music stops, the kids look for other things to get into. Enter pickin' around a fire, drinking down by the river, as well as general shenanigans. I found myself sitting at a picnic table next to the late-night venue, just across from our campsite, writing about the days events. I saw a lot of smiling faces as I wrote. I paused from writing to look up and see the Del McCoury Band (minus Del), a couple of the gentleman from Greensky Bluegrass, Joe Craven and several others hanging out. Some passed an oversized, joke flask as Trampled By Turtles loaded out behind me.

The moon appeared full as the fog poured over the Cumberland Hills. The night air smelled of campfire. I looked forward to seeing the Fairgrounds in day light.


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