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Blasts of Grass
by Haven James

Event: Pines Bluegrass Festival

March madness in the Hudson Valley takes on new meaning when you add bluegrass to the equation. Last weekend, the 11th annual Pines Bluegrass Festival filled the Friar Tuck in Greene County with pickers hanging in the hallways; coming up next weekend, March 27-29, the Carneys will be back at the Granit with their third annual Bluegrass Gathering. Plus, there's news of a couple of hot new albums from Sugar Hill to ease the time in between for the chronically cabin bound.

If indoor winter fests are new to you, here's the deal. A deluxe ticket buys a weekend package where all you need to do is show up with the bare essentials and your instrument, if you play one. Just think about it: no tents, no rain, no mud, no mosquitoes, and no long lines at the Port-a-potties--just three full days of hardcore bluegrass music in the company of the converted, with all the amenities included.

Though The Pines is a well-established union, this year it was moved to the Tuck in the town of Catskill with the production taken over by Harry Grant, veteran promoter of Wind Gap Festival in Pennsylvania. Packed with a legendary lineup, some of the top talent on the bill included the Dillards, Peter Rowan, Laurie Lewis, Del McCoury, and Country Ham. Reports came in that Werewolves' favorite, Cornerstone, blew the place out with serious harmonies and featured the ripping bow of D. Spector. "She plays one hell of a fiddle," is what we heard.

The Gibson Brothers and Bob Paisley & Southern Grass will segue this show to the upcoming Granit Plaza event, as they'll headline there along with Paul Adkins & Borderline, the Goin Brothers, Charlie Waller & the Country Gentleman, the Carolina Rebels, and more. Nick Barr and Bill Knowlton, both well-known to New York bluegrass radio fans, will emcee the affair, which kicks off Friday, March 27 at 2 p.m.

Marlene and Bernie Carney put out quite a spread at their gathering. In addition to the welcome party and the Saturday evening cocktail party, they'll serve six major meals over the weekend. The hotel has all the added diversions of a pool, sauna, indoor skating rink, etc. But one of the best draws to these indoor village events is the off-stage picking. Hallway, lounge, and in-room jam sessions carry on through all hours, and oftentimes some of the best music you'll hear is in a stairwell or off in a corner of the lobby.

Rates vary according to accommodations and day tickets are available. It's definitely best to make arrangements in advance, so call the Carneys at (845) 687-9781 or the Granit in Kerhonkson at (845) 626-8888. They can fill you in on the details.

Sam Bush & John Cowan CDs

Back on the home front: after many months of residency in the CD player, Sam Bush's Glamour & Grits was supplanted this afternoon by the arrival of Sam's new release, Howlin' At The Moon. Master of both blue- and rock-grass mandolin, Bush is accompanied by John Cowan, Larry Atamanuik, J.D. Crowe, Bela Fleck, Emmylou Harris, Roy Huskey Jr., Viktor Krauss, Jon Randall and Darrel Scott (you can hear the unmistakable Jerry Douglas Dobro on there, too, but he skipped the credit list). This is a very hot band. Bush wrote or co-wrote half of the 14 cuts on the Sugar Hill CD and will be in the area to pump it live at Winterhawk this summer.

Arriving with the Bush CD was bandmate John Cowan's new album, (soul'd out), also on Sugar Hill Records. Folks who know Cowan from the New Grass Revival, Sky Kings, and other bluegrass/country/swing-type venues are in for big surprise. This record rocks with R&B oldies updated to the millennium with burning vocals and a monster band. No sell-out, here--Billboard called it "blistering" and that about says it. It must be spring because the grass is sprouting all over and in all kinds of varieties.

Sugar Hill Records 
POB 55300
Durham, NC 27717-5300
(919) 489-4349
FAX (919) 498-6080

Finally, a clarification was requested regarding last week's commentary on the rebirth of the strip in music city, Woodstock. Yes, Freddie and Jerry are expanding their entertainment domain and will open a new and re-invented club at the site of the old Joyous Lake (target date late April/early May). And yes, it is also their stated intention to continue operations at the Tinker Street Cafe as we know them.

Haven James has been a consistent contributor to the Music & Arts scene around the Hudson Valley and beyond for almost a decade through his column, Werewolves of Woodstock, published weekly in the Woodstock Times

A writer, musician, philanthropist, and Mac addict; he lives reclusively, high atop Overlook Mountain with his son and a menagerie of animals, both wild and domesticated. Though currently unmarried, rumors abound as to his intimate relationships with Madonna, Sandra Bernhardt, and Eli Bach; though he insists these notions to be pure hearsay. His identity has remained a mystery to all but the closest of friends as he often travels in disguise and appears unannounced and undercover at concerts and venues in a dedicated effort to get the real story.

Go to the Werewolves of Woodstock page for more articles by Haven James.
Haven James can be contacted at

Posted on March 19, 1998

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