The sun was out and there was live music. Fiddles, mandolins,
acoustic guitars and the deep resonance of the stand up bass were
heard in many Vermont valleys this weekend.
The wooden instruments came alive in their minstrel's hands as
if they too, were content to be within reach of changing maples and
oak trees covering the surrounding Green Mountains. People danced
barefoot in the grass or lounged in the shade toe-tapping and
clapping in time with the beat.
Smoke from BBQ drifted up to the blue sky carrying mouth
watering aroma out into the crowds. Smiling children danced and ran
in circles to their own timing which sometimes coincided with the
musicians own. An idyllic Labor Day celebration if there ever was
one. The near perfect weather brought out the music and festival
lovers. Tents were pitched for the weekend, and thoughts of work
drifted into the hills carried along on the notes of new and
old-timey folk and bluegrass.
Two shows stood out this Labor Day weekend: The North Branch
Bluegrass Festival in Bridgewater and Plymouth Folk and
North Branch Bluegrass was celebrating its fifth year. While the
crowds had lightened up by Sunday, the music continued on. The
festival had a long list of bands that played throughout the
weekend. The Woedoggies, Sweetgrass, Granny's Hot Sauce, The Dusty
Pilgrims and Flat Top Trio are just a few who graced the stage.
The stage itself was brand new. The last stage to sit in its
place was washed into the tree line and smashed to splinters the
day before last years festival by Tropical Storm Irene. In fact,
the entire valley were the crowds had set up their tents and
campers for the weekend had been under a few feet of water at this
time last year.
Heather and Randy Kennedy who own the land and put on the
Festival with the help of area sponsors, including The Mountain
Times, put forth a Herculean effort to clear their valley of the
debris the storm left and get this years concert up and running
once again. They have been through much this past year and were
happy to see everyone who showed up for the fun.
The festival was a four-day event and Heather declared that it
was an "emotionally successful festival" for them and all who
volunteered to put the festival on. What was river bed last year,
was now green grass underfoot again.
The parking area had campers of different sizes and colors.
Their were flags rippling in the breeze and folks lounging in the
sun. When the stage became dark and quiet in the evening. The bands
could be heard around campfires in the night. The performers were
not day trippers. They stayed for the weekend, too.
South of Bridgewater, in Plymouth, another well known musical
event was happening on something of a smaller scale. The Plymouth
Folk and Blues Concert took place Saturday and Sunday afternoon
within the open compound of the President Calvin Coolidge State
Historical sight. It make one wonder if Coolidge was a fan of folk
music? His mustache indicates he was.
Music fans in Plymouth gathered on the grass and in folding
chairs for some good string music. The scene was all green grass
and raw barn wood. Old stone walls and plenty of sunshine.
The stage was behind one of the big old barns which housed
farming equipment and horse and buggy displays. This year marks its
eight year at the Coolidge sight and the festival has been
nominated as one of the top 10 fall events by the Vermont Chamber
In addition to the music, there was BBQ and cheese tasting.
Blankets were laid on the plush grass and were sprawled upon.
It was a different crowd than the multi-day festivalgoers in
Bridgewater, but many came out to enjoy the good folk and blues
under the late summer sun. Artists included Jesse Terry, Lowel
Thompson, Alastair Moock, The Jason Spooner Band, and Mare
Wakefield. A walk around the entire historical sight kept you
within earshot of the music and made for a perfect lazy summer
As with all good things, there must be an end. The good weather
lasted throughout the festivities and the bands are now heading to
their next gigs. Fans are left with tunes buzzing in their heads
and thoughts of "hot footin' it" to a fast fiddle.
Holiday weekend weather is always a roll of the dice in these
parts, but this year it came through with flying summer colors of
golden late day sunlight and deep blue skies dotted with white. The
grass underneath bare dancing feet was plush with a healthy summer
What better way to formally say goodbye to summer than kickin'
up your heels to the summertime fiddle.