Boston, MA -- Bluegrass is a music with innovation woven into its very fabric: It’s founding generation drew proudly from traditional songs, ballads, and fiddle tunes, while enlivening them with daring instrumental techniques (Earl Scruggs’ pioneering three-finger banjo roll), new rhythmic foundations (including jazz and blues influences), and haunting high, lonesome harmonies. The 28th Joe Val Bluegrass Festival — presented by the Boston Bluegrass Union (BBU) on Presidents’ Day Weekend, February 15-17, 2013, at the Sheraton Framingham Hotel, Framingham, MA — is a celebration of bluegrass’s inspired blending of past and future.
The stellar lineup organized by the BBU draws from the best of traditional and contemporary artists. The Seldom Scene, a crowd favorite for four decades and the single largest contributor to the progressive bluegrass scene. Representing a new generation of musicians inspired by the Seldom Scene’s infectious innovation and charisma are the Steep Canyon Rangers, best known for their recent stint with Steve Martin. James King, one of the country’s foremost exponents of hardcore, traditional Stanley Brothers-style bluegrass will also be on hand, along with the hard-driving Audie Blaylock and Redline. Bluegrass’s reining and five-time Female Vocalist of the Year Dale Ann Bradley will perform with her all-star band including Steve Gulley and Phil Leadbetter. Crowd favorite Claire Lynch returns along with to showcase her fine voice and original material. And, making their second Joe Val festival appearance, the Steeldrivers will present their blues inspired, soulful performances of powerful original material. And these are just a few of the featured performers.
The Northeast’s foremost bluegrass event, the Joe Val Festival features an impeccably curated roster of artists, performing in a comfortable and family-friendly environment for an audience of dedicated fans and listeners – many of whom are pickers as well. In addition to performances across two stages, the festival hosts over fifty master classes and workshops, the inspiring Academy for Kids, directed slow jams for beginners, a bustling vendor floor featuring bluegrass-related merchandise (including instruments, artwork, memorabilia, CDs, and more), and innumerable opportunities for musicians of all levels to get together in informal jam settings. It all takes place shielded from the winter elements, in the cozy, castle-like confines of the Sheraton Framingham.
Established in 1985, the Joe Val Bluegrass Festival celebrates the legacy of the late Joe Val, a pioneering Massachusetts-based vocalist, musician, and bandleader, whose riveting performances, recordings, and generous nature did so much to spread the popularity of bluegrass in the Northeast. From its humble beginnings as a local tribute to Joe and the regional bluegrass scene, the festival has grown to become one of the celebrated bluegrass events in the country. In 2006, the 21st Joe Val Bluegrass Festival won the prestigious Event of the Year award from the International Bluegrass Music Association.
This year’s Main Stage performers encompass a range of styles, with new faces and old friends. Making their first New England appearance, the all-star group Rambling Rooks boasts three veterans of the influential ‘90s outfit the Lonesome River Band: vocalist Ronnie Bowman, tenor singer and mandolinist Don Rigsby, and guitarist Kenny Smith. Also appearing is the eloquent bluegrass songwriter Donna Ulisse and Washington DC favorites Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen. And, we’ll shine the spotlight on the region’s bluegrass roots with a reunion performance by the legendary Charles River Valley Boys. And that’s just a sample of what’s in store on the Festival’s Main Stage.
Dedicated to preserving the past and nurturing the future, the Boston Bluegrass Union continues their commitment to education with daylong Master Classes kicking off the festival on Friday. On Saturday and Sunday, there will be over forty Workshops for festival patrons of all ages that examine the instrumental and vocal techniques unique to bluegrass, as well as the music’s history and culture. The BBU’s Joe Val Academy for Kids enters its ninth year, presenting a free, intensive three-day program that teaches children (ages 5 - 17) how to play, sing, and perform bluegrass music. Visit the festival website for further details on the extensive education offerings, schedules and registration details.
The Sheraton Framingham is located just 18 miles west of Boston, directly adjacent to the Mass Pike (Rt. 90, Exit 12) and Rt. 9. At this time, all hotel rooms are sold out at the Sheraton, but rooms are available nearby at the Marriott Residence Inn (508-370-0001) and the Natick Courtyard Marriott (508-655-6100). We strongly encourage early ticket purchases, as the festival has sold out in past years.
The Boston Bluegrass Union is a 501(c)3 non-profit, all volunteer organization, dedicated to preserving and promoting this original American music genre. Celebrating our 36th season, the BBU is the premier source for events, education, and information on bluegrass music in the Northeast.Seldom Scene