LOWVILLE It will be a time of reunions, a goodbye and an opportunity to absorb some Punches this weekend at the eighth annual Tug Hill Bluegrass Festival at Maple Ridge Center.
Festival promoter Keith Zehr said its unusual for bluegrass festivals to host the same national act for more than two or three years in a row. But Audie Blaylock and Redline have proven to be a favorite with festival fans. Mr. Blaylock and his band, based in Indiana, first performed at the festival in 2008 and have been a yearly fixture ever since.
Audie Blaylock and Redline have several No. 1 singles from albums on the Rural Rhythm Records label. Redlines latest release is Hard Country.
Last year, Audie gave high praise by telling the crowd that Tug Hill had the best sound system on any festival they play, Mr. Zehr said. He has a hard-driving traditional sound that our crowd really likes. There would be a lot of disappointed people if we didnt have him back.
Coming back for the last time will be Smokey Greene, a former New York state resident who now lives in Florida. The bluegrass balladeer is known for his songwriting and storytelling. Many of his stories are about growing up in Vermont. His family moved around in the 1930s following logging jobs. In 1946, he met Yodeling Slim Clark of Vermont, who inspired Mr. Greene to be a musician.
Mr. Zehr said that Mr. Greene has announced that this will be his last year on the festival circuit. Hell perform Friday and Saturday nights.
The Lindsey Family from Kentucky has been a fixture at past Tug Hill Bluegrass Festivals, but Mr. Zehr said that a scheduling conflict has prevented the band from attending this years festival. Another family band, the Missouri-based Punches Family, has been booked. The band was named Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America Entertaining Group of the Year in 2010 and 2011. The band features the parents and their four children.
People are going to love the Punches Family, Mr. Zehr said. Those kids will knock you out.
In addition to performing at the festival on Friday and Saturday, the Punches Family will perform at Carthage Mennonite Church, 235 Spring St., on Sunday morning.
At the festival, Sunday will be free admission for all. The Spinney Brothers will perform a special gospel set on Sunday in addition to their performances on Sunday.
Another festival highlight, Mr. Zehr said, will be Georgia native and banjo expert Larry Gillis and his band, which will perform on Friday.
Bluegrass fans expect the banjo to be played fast, but Gillis adds flair and multiple styles that will really excite the crowd, Mr. Zehr said.
The host bands of the weekend are Central New York-based Lost Time and Harrisville-based the Atkinson Family Band. Its led by Dick Atkinson on banjo, lead and harmony vocals and Shelene Atkinson on guitar, lead and harmony vocals. The bands latest album is Twilight of Day.
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As in past years, two large tents will shield performers and fans from adverse weather.
Weve added on to the tent size this year to make sure we can accommodate everyone, said Mr. Zehr.
All camping for the weekend is free with a weekend ticket. Gates do not open at Maple Ridge Center for RVs until 9 a.m. Friday. But Thursday night overnight parking is provided free at Lowville Mennonite Church, one mile north of the festival site, on Route 812. Campsites also can be rented at the Lewis County Fairgrounds. That property is adjacent to the Maple Ridge site.