Take your pick
KEYSTONE – There aren’t many pure bluegrass festivals left. And Keystone’s Bluegrass and Beer Festival is following the trend.David Jeffrey of Grass It Up, who plays at 1 p.m. Sunday, said his band is stuck in the middle between traditional and new grass – and described its music as “almost punk bluegrass.”Grass It Up pleases crowds with bluegrass renditions of songs from Cake, Jimi Hendrix, K.C. and the Sunshine Band, Pearl Jam and Willie Nelson among others.The addition of rock and punk stylings comes from the band members’ own personal influences.Jeffrey said of the trio that bass player Jon Bross grew up playing in funk bands while guitar and banjo player Shannon Carr was versed in blues and rock ‘n’ roll.The new grass evolution of bluegrass has been going on since the ’70s and the likes of the New Grass Revival. The standard instrument lineup of upright bass, mandolin, banjo, fiddle and guitar now is seeing drums, more percussion and even electricity added.One of the organizers of the event, Mike O’Brien, said the Keystone Bluegrass and Beer Festival tends to attract people who are curious about bluegrass or are newly exposed to the genre.
“We try to make it musically accessible to the average person that may not be entirely immersed in traditional bluegrass,” he said.Josh Blanchard with the Keystone Neighbourhood Company said this is Keystone’s most popular festival. Reasons for this probably include the presence of a beer-tasting with 33 breweries and Keystone restaurants catering their menus to the Appalachia theme, but there is also the enduring appeal of bluegrass.”I don’t worry about trends doing away with the profession,” Jeffrey of Grass It Up said. “Bluegrass has been around for decades and decades. There’s a following for the music.”It traces so far back in time, it’s easy for everyone to relate to and catch on to. You know when you’re listening to bluegrass,” Jeffrey continued. “Different bands have different sounds, but you still know it’s bluegrass.”What I really like about it, is that you can be old and blind and people will still love what you do when you play bluegrass. You don’t have to maintain a rock-star, pretty-boy image all your life.”With two stages for live music, festival-goers can take their pick of bluegrass Saturday and Sunday in Keystone.
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