Eastern Panhandle HAS new bluegrass event

Bonnie Williamson

Trinity River Band will perform at the festival. Via Facebook.

A new bluegrass festival, Circa Blue Fest, featuring nationally known bands, regional artists, and workshops for songwriters and aspiring musicians, takes the stage May 6–8 in Martinsburg, W.Va.

The family-friendly event is just one-and-a-half hours from the Washington, D.C., and Baltimore areas. It will be held on the 40-acre Moose Acres site, which features a stage with a 400-seat pavilion and campgrounds.

Steve Harris, who is promoting the event, is also part of the five-member bluegrass band called Circa Blue.

Trinity River Band will perform at the festival. Via Facebook.
Trinity River Band will perform at the festival. Via Facebook.

“We wanted to establish a national festival with the hottest contemporary bluegrass bands around today. We did the research. This area has the logistics and demographics to support an event like this,” Harris said. “It’s a big draw already. We’ve been hearing from people all over the country. There’s a lot of community excitement and lots of interest.”

One of the headliners on the bill is Blue Highway, a group that has released nine CDs and been nominated for several Grammy awards. Other artists lined up for the festival are Trinity River Band, a multi-award-winning band that performs a mix of inspirational country, acoustic roots, folk, and bluegrass; Lonesome Highway, which has been performing in the region for the last 15 years, offering a mix of moving ballads as well as some gospel; Jim Hurst, a two-time winner of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s guitarist of the year award and an experienced instructor and a highly sought-after session musician; Chris Jones and Night Drivers, referred to by Steve Martin as “… some of the best players in bluegrass”; and, of course, Circa Blue.

Dawn Kenney and David Morris, who recently won the Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, N.C., will be on hand for workshops. Instrumental workshops for guitar, banjo, dobro, and fiddle players will also be available. Sunday will have a gospel set performed by Circa Blue.

“We’ll have a selfie booth. There’ll be free hot dogs and s’mores for the kids. We’ll have barbecue and a variety of other foods and beverages,” Harris said.

Need to know

Children under 12 will be admitted free. The daily rate is $25 per person; weekend rate is $35 and the rough camping rate, with no electricity or water hookups, is $50. Circa Blue Fest benefits the ChildSafe Center-CAC in Winchester, Va., an organization that advocates a collaborative response to child abuse.

Mark Jordan, who promotes the area, said Circa Blue Fest will fill a hole left when Pickin’ in the Panhandle, a bluegrass and country music festival, ended in 2014 after entertaining visitors for seven years.

“Circa Blue Fest will be a wonderful addition to the programs we offer during the year. It’ll be great fun, a great attraction,” Jordan said.

Learn more:

Circa Blue Fest: circabluefest.com

Martinsburg Tourism: travelwv.com

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