Ampersand Stringband Opens Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Ampersand Stringband Opens Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival

Ampersand Stringband opened up this weekend’s Charm City Folk & Bluegrass Festival at Druid Hill Park with a breakfast buffet of bluegrass tunes from their self-titled EP, along with a few covers and some as yet unreleased material.

The Annapolis-based quartet – Cory Chubb (mandolin/vocals), Dave Zelonka (guitar/vocals), Jason Zeckowski  (banjo/vocals) and Mark Strother (bass) – earned the opening spot on the festival’s WAMU Stage by winning the battle of the bands competition that led up to the event.

Ampersand Stringband opened up this weekend’s Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival.(Photos by Chris Swanson)

Ampersand Stringband opened up this weekend’s Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival.(Photos by Chris Swanson)

“We played at the Union Craft Brewery and then at the 8×10, a lot of great competition, a lot of super cool bands, we were happy to play with all of them, and honored to have come out on top and get to open up the festival here today,” Chubb said regarding how the band earned its invitation to the festival.

The band took the stage a little after 10 a.m., opening with “Honey Babe” and “Man Without a Home” from their EP, and worked through a nine song set that got the early crowd revved up for the day.

Though this is their first time performing at the Charm City festival, the guys have been coming for several years to check out the music and form friends in music.

“Some friends of ours in the band “Man About a Horse,” who played just after us, we met them here, I think it was two years ago, just playing in the picking circle under the tree, and now we share shows, play together a lot, and now we’re both on the bill, “ Zelonka said.

Ampersand Stringband's Jason Zeckowski

Ampersand Stringband’s Jason Zeckowski

He added: “Cory, Mark, and I grew up playing music around the Annapolis area in high school and college age. We were playing in different kinds of bands, rock and roll bands, ska bands, so we’d been playing music together for a long time. More recently we’ve been getting into bluegrass music and started messing around.  We like to go out to parks and stuff, and bring our acoustic instruments, so this kind of music is really conducive to hanging around parks and campfires… it treats our lifestyle well, so we kind of gravitated towards bluegrass music and started playing that more and more. Jason, our banjo player was playing around the Annapolis scene, playing banjo with a couple of different groups, and we scooped him up. So yeah, It’s been a fun organic process.”

Ampersand follows this show with a performance at the Baltimore Agricultural Center as part of the Millstone Cellars Apple Blossom Festival on May 7, and will be back in Baltimore June 4 playing at Joe Squared in Baltimore. They are also getting ready to record a full length album later in the year. All dates and a listen to their EP can be found at

Setlist: Honey Babe, Man Without a Home, Glorified, Needle Leaves, Coming Home to You, No Port To Call Home, Steam Powered Aereo Plane, Ruben’s Train, Don’t Just Break My Heart

About the author

Chris Swanson

Chris Swanson is a live music and sports fanatic and a long-time Maryland resident. He holds tightly to what some consider an unreasonable affection for the Baltimore Orioles and older music venues. Chris has a Communications Degree from the Franciscan University of Steubenville. Contact the author.

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