48th Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival offers musical feast

Molly Daly
August 25, 2019 - 6:40 pm
48th Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival

Courtesy of P.J. March with the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival

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SALEM COUNTY, N.J. (KYW Newsradio) — The 48th Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival will be held this weekend at the Salem County Fairgrounds in South Jersey.  

The three-day event just minutes from the Delaware Memorial Bridge features an embarrassment of musical riches from noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Although bluegrass is the main course, Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival director Carl Goldstein says there are a variety of tasty offerings.

"It is centered in traditional Appalachian and old-time bluegrass music, but we kind of see the continuum on either side of traditional music in other genres as compatible," he said.

Ricky Skaggs, the Travelin' McCourys, and Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass are among the bluegrass veterans on the bill. Then there's the decidedly different Tuba Skinny, a nine-piece New Orleans street band.

"We finally convinced them to come up two years ago," says Goldstein, “and they had an astounding reception."

Also making a much anticipated appearance Saturday are Darin and Brooke Aldridge.

"Brooke Aldridge has one of the best voices in bluegrass, in my opinion," Goldstein said.

48th Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival
Courtesy of P.J. March with the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival

There'll be a special percussive dance performance Friday afternoon backed by Baltimore-based Charm City Junction.

"They do a mix of traditional music, with a bit of Irish music, with a little bit of bluegrass; they're a great dance band as well,” he said.

There's plenty of music offstage, too, including formal and informal jam sessions, as well as a Kids' Academy, aimed at giving young pickers an intensive, fun opportunity to play with their peers.

"There's somebody teaching fiddle, somebody teaching guitar, somebody teaching banjo," Goldstein says. "I think last year there was even a dobro."

On Sunday morning, the kids get to perform on the big stage.

At bluegrass festivals, there's no assigned seating — it's a bring-your-own-lawn-chair affair.

48th Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival
Courtesy of P.J. March with the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival

But if your view leaves something to be desired, Goldstein says, there's a share a chair policy.

"If there's an open chair there, you're invited to sit there until the owner returns," he said.

Tickets are available for each day, or the entire weekend, and there's no extra charge for camping.