When you think of Connecticut, bluegrass music may not immediately jump to mind, but there is a bluegrass scene here in the Land of Steady Habits. Starting on Thursday night, fans will gather at the Hebron Fairgrounds in Hebron for the Podunk Bluegrass Festival.
Executive Director Roger Moss spoke this week to WNPR’s Diane Orson. He said that when he was first asked to help organize the event in East Hartford 17 years ago, all he knew about bluegrass was that it was the seed you put on baseball fields. He said that now the festival has become a labor of love.
Roger Moss: It’s a form of music that people feel comfortable playing on all levels. You have jammers, if you will; people who are closet bluegrassers that get together. It’s a real community-type music.
You have a great line-up of groups coming this year. Can you talk a little bit about that?
Sure. We kick things off on Thursday with a band competition, which is something we started. This is our seventh year. It’s local, regional bands that are really looking to step up, and take their game, if you will, to the next level. The Zolla Boys from Connecticut are our local band. We have My Brother’s Keeper from Harrison, Indiana; The Bondville Boys from Vermont; and Tumbling Bones from Portland [Maine].
Listen below to one of the headline performers this year, the Claire Lynch Band:
Below is a performance of the Larry Stephenson Band, also featured this year:
And some more featured music from Tumbling Bones:
Who comes to the festival?
Our festival really draws all over the world. It’s ironic to our name being Podunk, small, out of the way, forgotten place. But we’ve drawn people from south of Spain, to Hong Kong to Australia. And we were recognized by the IBMA, the International Bluegrass Music Association in 2010 as the “Event of the Year”, which is kind of like winning a Grammy.
Am I right -- do people camp?
Oh yeah. Camping is an enormous part of the festival. People don’t realize but bluegrass festivals and camping go hand in hand. You’ll have a tenter, somebody sleeping in the back of their van, to a $500,000 RV bus. What they do is after the main stage music ends, they go back to the campsites and this is where that jamming and picking goes on. And they stay up and play till the wee hours. It’s a great event.