As part of the Appalachian cultural diaspora, the Catskill Mountains share a profound connection to the musical traditions of bluegrass. With influences that range from the folk music of England, Ireland, and Scotland to the jazz and blues genres originated by Black American musicians, contemporary bluegrass is a spirited reflection of its multicultural mountain heritage.
At the third annual Bearsville Bluegrass Festival this Sunday, May 28, three northeast bluegrass and roots bands will be strengthening that connection with an afternoon of spirited tunes at the Bearsville Center’s serene woodland events venue, Bearsville Park.
The performances kick off at 1pm with Austin Scelzo and On the Trail, fresh from recording their latest album in Nashville. On the Trail is a modern acoustic band, and winner of the 2022 Thomas Point Beach Band Competition, that explores everything from bluegrass to contemporary pop, from stunning instrumentals to beautiful traditional harmony songs.
At 2:45pm, the locally renowned Catskill Mountains String Band, comprised of Mark Patton, Andy Bing and Bruno Bruzzese, will be taking the stage to share their bluegrass harmonies, old time and country songs, fiddle tunes on banjo, guitar, fiddle, and dobro.
At 4:30pm, Blue Plate Special, a regular of the bluegrass festival circuit as well as local Hudson Valley venues like Daryl’s House Club, will be finishing out the day with songs from their new album “The News from Home.” With Dave Gross on mandolin, Nick Conte on lead vocals and guitar, and Jay Friedman on vocals and Tom Wise on bass, the good-times roots band will have everyone singing and dancing into the early evening.
For bluegrass musicians who want to share in the spirit of the day, there will also be a three-hour jam session before the festival from 11am to 1pm. The jam session will be led by On the Trail’s Austin Scelzo, who teaches the Wernick Method jam classes as well as an online bluegrass school. Interested players can register in advance and bring along their own (tuned) guitars, mandolins, banjos, fiddles, basses, or dobros to join in the fun.
In addition to an afternoon of good tunes, attendees can look forward to relaxing and enjoying the park's amenities, including delicious food and drink, craft beers, and handcrafted cocktails. There will also be comfortable seating on luxe outdoor sofas under sun umbrellas, lawn games to enjoy with friends and family, a music and nature trail to explore, and the crisp mountain waters of the babbling Sawkill Creek to wade into.
The Bearsville Bluegrass Festival will take place Sunday, May 28 at Bearsville Park from 1 to 6pm. Tickets are $10 for adults, $5 for children 16 and under, and $25 for families of two adults and two children. Tickets can be purchased here.