Delfest 10: A Family Reunion - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

Delfest 10: A Family Reunion

CUMBERLAND, Md. – It’s been 10 years since Del McCoury brought the first edition of Delfest to Western Maryland, and while other festivals have come and gone, some crashing and burning spectacularly, Delfest has grown and evolved to become one of the country’s premier bluegrass events.

This year’s theme of “Family Reunion” in part celebrates the history of Delfest, bringing back some of its biggest acts over the past decade, as well as several first timers. With so many performers doing drop-in performances with each other’s bands, the family analogy is very easy to make.

Another just as equal aspect of the family reunion theme is with the fans themselves. Whether coming for the first time, or returning for the 10th, there are happy meetings of friends all over the place, played out with a shriek of discovery and a race across the lawn to hug, or communal camping spots that have been arranged for years.

Delfest’s Grandstand video screens, Delovision, share these moments in video montages between sets, and Del takes the lead personally in blurring the wall between artist and fan, taking on-stage requests, and mixing with the two with great accessibility celebrated via #Delfies.

And so we begin our weekend coverage of all things Delfest 10.

Ten years will see a lot bands cross your stage, and Thursday’s opening day saw the first wave of acts returning for the reunion.

Following the traditional Del McCoury Band soundcheck, Delfest alum Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles brought his side band Dead Man Winter for a mid-afternoon set.

Delfest alum Dave Simonett of Trampled by Turtles entertained the crowd at Delfest. (Costa Swanson)

The lone newcomers to do a full set, Ryan O’Keefe, Halli Anderson, Daniel Shearin, and Alex McWalters make up River Whyless of Asheville, N.C.

River Whyless, a band from Asheville, N.C., played Delfest in Cumberland, Md., on Thursday. (Costa Swanson)

Alumni of both Delfest and last year’s Charm City Bluegrass Festival, Steep Canyon Rangers, had the crowd engaged and dancing as night descended on Cumberland.

Steep Canyon Rangers did what they do best at Delfest on Thursday. (Costa Swanson)

The highlight of the night came from Del McCoury and Friends, the Thursday headliner show.

Del McCoury, far right, makes everyone feel at home at Delfest, which returned to Cumberland for its 10th straight year. (Costa Swanson)

Joining Del’s band was joined throughout the set by a diverse collection of artists. Phish drummer Jon Fishman backed up the band, who were also joined by Ronnie Bowman, the Preservation Horns of New Orleans, and Black Keys singer Dan Auerback.

Always keeping it in the family, Del also had his grandson, Heaven McCoury, come up and play during the end of the set.


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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