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The University of Hartford

State of the Bluegrass
by Kevin Lynch, Host of UH Bluegrass Saturday
 9am to 1pm

Future Bluegrass Stars perform at the Thomas Point Beach Bluegrass Festival in Brunswick, Maine.

Now that winter is on its way we're all looking forward to indoor music events. There will be some excellent choices in and around Connecticut. Both the CT Bluegrass Music Association and CT Friends of Bg are gearing-up for their seasons. For you pickers out there, check the list (at the end of this article) of Bluegrass Jams within an hour's drive from anywhere in the state. As always, make sure you call ahead to confirm each event.

It was a long, dry summer for most festival-goers and festival promoters. Hopefully everyone benefited from the lack of rain by being able to see their favorite bands and festival friends...even if your gardens did take a beating! The highlight of the year for most of the New England & Canadian fans was the 25th Thomas Point Beach Bg Festival! It was an awesome week of the best in Bluegrass music, and some of the best Bluegrass fans on the circuit were there to pick and visit old friends...many of who hadn't attended that festival in 20 or more years. It was like stepping back in time seeing all those familiar faces all in one place once again. The down-side of the TPB festival is that owner/promoter Pati Crooker announced she was closing the gates for 2003, but hopes to return "bigger and better than ever" on Labor Day Weekend, 2004. So make your plans now...you won't find a better festival for campsite jam sessions, fishing, kayaking, and swimming!

On a sad note, the Bluegrass world lost a great, perhaps one of its greatest, supporters in Ray Waters that very same Labor Day Weekend. Ray, and wife Alice, were familiar by sight, if not by name, to many of you who have been attending concerts/festivals since the late 1970s. They were the elderly couple who wore caps embroidered with "Bluegrass Fans No. 1 & No. 2". They always sat in the front row applauding wildly for hours...even for two or three days at a time...for their favorite bands, which were most of the groups in any given lineup. I once saw Ray & Alice attend all three festivals we performed at in one weekend -- from CT on a Friday, to MA on Saturday, and finally way up in northwestern NY on Sunday. There they were, after driving all night, sitting in the front row for our 8am Gospel set. Alice passed our rig on the NY Thruway late that night at about 75mph! At Alice's request (or I should say, command!) Ray's funeral service was full of Bluegrass music. We all shared instruments and played for about 90 minutes. It will be strange looking out from the stage at first, not seeing Ray making gestures and giving the "thumbs-up" from his chair, but Alice will carry the torch and we'll look forward to seeing her back on the Bluegrass trail.

Del McCoury Band at Grey Fox Festival 2002

Copyright©WWUH: November/December Program Guide, 2002



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