Annual bluegrass festival DelFest wrapped up its 11th year on Sunday, bringing together dozens of artists and fans of the genre at Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, Maryland. The four-day musical gathering was host to both established grass legends and vanguard up-and-comers, with a healthy measure of onstage collaborations such as festival founder Del McCoury’s Bluegrass Congress.
Inspired by American founding father George Washington’s early travels to Maryland, McCoury established the Congress in 2017 by inviting genre heavyweights such as Ricky Skaggs, David Grisman, Sam Bush, Bryan Sutton, Jerry Douglas and Stuart Duncan to join. On Saturday, McCoury convened the Bluegrass Congress to perform a brisk cover of Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers’ “White House Blues.”
Their rendition kicks off with a choppy banjo vamp before the 11-piece band picks up and McCoury sings the turbulent melodies in his signature reedy voice. Many of the instrumentalists take solos between the verses and choruses, with guitarist Sutton’s break prompting raised eyebrows and rubbernecking from his musical cohorts. Overall, it’s an accomplished blend of breakneck speed and dexterity only this consortium of bluegrass greats can render.
Coinciding with the festival weekend, Del McCoury Band released Del McCoury Still Sings Bluegrass on May 25th. They’ll continue their current tour on June 6th with a show in Kent, Ohio.