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Western New York has been a hotbed of traditional acoustic music for as long as humans have known how to pick and grin. So it was only natural that two local promoters, Bill Ward and David Tidquist, would put their heads together to carry forth the spirit of the Mayville Bluegrass Festival with a brand new event at an established outdoor venue that showcases the biggest names in bluegrass and old-time music while shining a well-deserved spotlight on an abundance of regional talent.
The inaugural Heron Bluegrass Festival kicks off this summer at The Heron retreat center and farm. Located just south of Sherman, NY, the Heron’s rolling hills and shady groves have a long history of hosting outdoor gatherings. Their rural location includes gorgeous open and wooded campsites, a spring-fed pond with a supervised beach, and miles of forested trails, making it a perfect location for a fun-filled musical getaway.
Headlining the three-day event are Bluegrass Hall of Fame inductee Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver (performing Sunday), Country and Rock & Roll Hall of Fame members Chris Hillman & Herb Pedersen (performing Saturday), the Claire Lynch Band (performing Saturday) featuring the three-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Awards’ Vocalist of the Year, and the Clay Hess Band (performing all weekend), featuring the Grammy-winning guitarist who contributed to two IBMA Instrumental Band of the Year awards during his three-year tenure as a member of Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.
Regional favorites include New York State flat-picking champion Bobby Henrie and his Lonesome Hillside Brothers, Ithaca’s Evil City String Band featuring legendary Finger Lakes banjo player Richie Stearns, Pittsburgh’s hillbilly swing kids The Urban Pioneers, and the Delaney Brothers from Cortland.
Appearing throughout the weekend: Doug Yeomans & Mountain Run, Matt Homan & the Bluegrass Disciples, Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers, Bill Ward & Amanda Barton, Tiger Maple String Band, Stewed Mulligan, Old Dawg Bluegrass, Creek Bend, South 79, Wind River, Border Ride, and the Blue Mule Band.
In addition to live performance, the event includes instrument workshops and old-time square dances. The festival midway offers an exotic variety of fresh-cooked fare, as well as artists and vendors offering a wide range of clothing, jewelry, instruments, and other unique gifts.
Weekend passes are $65 through May 6, $75 after May 6, and $85 at the gate. Daily tickets are available at the gate only and are $30 for Friday and $35 for Saturday for Sunday. Youth passes (ages 12-15) are $40 for the weekend. Children under 12 are free. Ticket outlets include the Reg Lenna and Trinity Guitars in Jamestown, Terrapin Trading in Buffalo, and the Grasshopper in Erie. For more information and to order tickets online, go to http://www.heronbluegrass.com.