BY HARRIETTE BRAINARD
BRANDON â€” Bluegrass music, food, music workshops, a guitar raffle, dancing and field picking will all be going on July 6-9 at the 12th Annual Basin Bluegrass Festival in Brandon.
â€œField picking,â€? says Dudley and Linda Berry, is â€œa unique component of the weekendâ€? which involves the spontaneous playing of instruments with others festival-goers in the field.
The Berries, who together with Rhodes and Donna Wyman and their son and daughter-in-law Tracy and Harriet Wyman have been running the festival since its inception in 1994, said the festivalâ€™s unique culture has attracted a loyal following for much of the past decade.
â€œPeople will start arriving on Sunday, July 2 at 8 in the morning (when the gates open) to pick their spot for the camper. Weâ€™ll have somewhere around 600 to 650 campers at the festival that weekend,â€? Linda Berry said. â€œSome people come to pick their spot for the following weekend, pay and reserve it. Many others come for the entire week before the festival with their instruments and spend the weekend playing music with others in the field.â€?
The field picking continues throughout the week and weekend, Berry said, adding that after the feature performances are over â€œthere is music going on in the fields â€¦ sometimes all night long.â€?
The festival is held at the end of Basin road, about three miles east of Brandon, off McConnel road. â€œThe festival will be easy to find as there will be blue and white signs all over Brandon directing everyone to the right place,â€? says Berry.
A number of bands from out of state come back year after year, as well as local musicians, including: The Bluegrass Patriots from Colorado, Lonesome Whistle Band from Georgia, Carolina Rebels from South Carolina, Blistered Fingers from Maine, and the Pine Hill Ramblers from Massachusetts. Bands from New York include Cabin Fever, Smokey Greene, Andy Pawlenko and the Smokey Hollow Boys, and Dave Nichols and Spare Change.
Berry said that they like to include at least one band from Vermont, and this year there will be two â€” Big Spike and Cold Country.
The lineup also includes a band from Connecticut called Crossover.
â€œThis band played last year for the open stage and was invited back as a scheduled performer this year,â€? Berry said. â€œThe festival always includes an hour of open stage on Friday night where new bands can get up and perform in front of the audience; we always try to hire an open stage performer back the following year, but we donâ€™t promise anything.â€?
The festival offers a number of workshops, including rhythm guitar on Friday from 4 to 5 p.m.; and on Saturday there will be three workshops â€” mandolin from 1 to 2 p.m.; upright bass from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.; and vocal from 4 to 5 p.m.
There are three large tents at the festival for fans to get out of the heat or rain, although the directors are hoping for good weather. The festival draws about 600 people on Saturday and somewhat fewer on Friday and Sunday, the Berries said, in addition to all of those camping out.
The Basin Bluegrass Festival opens on Thursday, July 6 at 7 p.m. with a classic country band from Massachusetts called the Cannonball Express. The concert is free for anyone who has a weekend ticket, otherwise it is $5 at the door. The festival continues on Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 10:15 p.m. and Sunday will start at 9 a.m. with a gospel sing-a-long then continue with performances from 9:50 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The festival ends with a potluck supper in the food tent Sunday night at 6 p.m. More information can be found at Brandon.org/bluegrass.htm or call 802â€“247â€“5748.