Already scheduled for Sunday afternoon (February 14th) at the annual Joe Val Festival, The Traveling McCourys will become The Del McCoury Band! Del of course was ‘snowed out’ last year (remember the snowstorm here that snowed in a lot of musicians and fans that Saturday night, and closed Logan Airport?). And this year, just a few days ago on January 23rd, Del and the band had to cancel a concert at Sanders Theater in Cambridge (part of the Boston Celebrity Series) because of the blizzard that hit the Mid-Atlantic states. That show was to have been a tribute to Woody Guthrie, featuring a program of his unfinished lyrics that Del had set to music. I wouldn’t be surprised to hear some of those songs on Sunday at the Festival.
This will be the 31st annual Joe Val Bluegrass Festival, and the 14th* since it moved to the Sheraton in Framingham. Having the Festival in my backyard is a great boon. Each year fosters a wealth of impressions and memories, not just from the stunning lineup of acts on the Main Stage, but from the contacts and conversations in and about the environs of what becomes, on Presidents’ Day Weekend, The Bluegrass Hotel.
This year the hotel rooms sold out in one minute (!), when sales were opened on November 17th. However, there are plenty of rooms in overflow hotels. See HERE.
The other big news is that Everett and B, The Lilly Brothers, will be honored (posthumously) with the BBU’s Heritage Award. It was Tex Logan who talked the Lillys into coming to Boston from West Virginia, and the 17 years they spent playing at the rowdy Hillbilly Ranch sparked a flame that led to the vibrant bluegrass scene we have in New England today. Jim Rooney, whose association with the Lilly Brothers and Tex when they were The Confederate Mountaineers (see the posts on Tex HERE and HERE) says he will come in to Hillbilly at Harvard Saturday the 12th, to talk about the Lillys, and of course Don Stover. It’s even possible that Everett Allen Lilly will come in, too; he is Everett Lilly’s son, and will be accepting the award for The Lilly Brothers Saturday at the Festival, about 5 PM. Everett Allen and his daughter Ashley will perform with their band, The Songcatchers, Saturday evening as well.
Performers on the Main Stage this year will be an ensemble of returning JVF stars and local favorites, notably Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, The Spinney Brothers, The Gibson Brothers, Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice (who also couldn’t make it last year, much to my disappointment), Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys (who played on the Hillbilly show last year), and (among many others) The Del McCoury Band. For the complete, if still ‘tentative’ on the waiting-to-be-updated web page, see HERE.
And of course there is the usual potpourri of up-and-coming Showcase Stage bands, workshops, a Kids’ Academy, the Trade Show, and much else. Go to the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival page on the BBU website, and there you’ll find much more information and you can buy tickets. See you there! /CL
* UPDATE: 14th? or maybe the 13th? Stan Zdonik tells me:
Indoor festival started in 2000. We did 3 years at the Holiday Inn [Dedham].
Then we moved to Framingham in 2003.
That makes this year the 14th. But Sheila Selby tells me that the Sheraton’s in-house package says it’s the 13th. Since this is an empirical question, I expect someone will come up with the definitive answer.