All photos from DelFest’s Facebook
The 8th annual DelFest took place in Cumberland, Maryland this past weekend and hosted a variety of bluegrass, folk, and Americana musicians over the course of four days. While each performance was special in its own way, there were a few musical moments that stand out when looking back on the incredible weekend. We wanted to highlight some of those goose-bump inducing songs for all those who could and couldn’t make it out to the festival!
Greensky Bluegrass “Eyes of the World”
Unfortunately I wasn’t able to make it to the festival until Friday evening, but when I woke up Friday morning to check my Facebook feed, there was one clearly trending topic: Greensky’s cover of “Eyes of the World.”
After getting shafted from their Dear Jerry performance, the Michigan five-piece was itching to deliver their heartfelt cover of the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World.” They kicked off their Thursday night headlining main stage set with a 12-minute rendition of the killer track.
Railroad Earth “Mighty River” > “Like a Buddha”
A couple of fitting Railroad Earth songs found themselves back-to-back during their Friday evening main stage performance. “Mighty River” means something a little more when the beloved band performs right along the Potomac River, and when that track segues into “Like a Buddha,” where the lyrics open with “and then the river ends, you leave the boat and find you’re walkin’.” It was a nice moment that found extra meaning in the beautiful surroundings of DelFest.
Greensky Bluegrass “Shout”
Another great cover by the band who keeps on improving. Greensky’s late-night encore was the icing atop of an insane rollercoaster ride of improvisational bluegrass and beyond. This band is one of the most exciting players in this scene.
Jeff Austin Band “Raleigh & Spencer”
In his post-Yonder career, Jeff Austin has established Jeff Austin Band as a force of its own within the jam / acoustic music circuits. Yonder’s cover of “Raleigh & Spencer” was blitzing, and JAB didn’t turn it down a single bit as Danny Barnes and the rest of the band displayed incredible musicianship on their set finale.
Jason Isbell “Decoration Day”
On Memorial Day weekend, as Jason Isbell pointed out, this song just means a little bit more. During his completely captivating Friday night performance, Isbell proved why he is one of the highly acclaimed singer-songwriters of this era. His resonating lyrics and passionate delivery make him so much more than just a country singer, and because of it this 13-year-old song still has wheels.
With Southeastern‘s follow-up due soon, we can’t wait to see if he can keep up the momentum that has landed him at festivals of country, indie, bluegrass, and more.
The Travelin’ McCourys “The Thrill Is Gone”
With the legendary BB King’s passing last week, it was fitting to pay him some tribute. Ronnie McCoury invited his son out to play guitar before leading the band in a cover of King’s “The Thrill Is Gone” and it was one of the most heartfelt moments of the entire festival.
The Travelin’ McCourys “Loser”
The McCourys also paid homage to Jerry Garcia during their Saturday night headlining set, where the quintet proved how they can stand on their own feet without the help of dad. A mix of experimental tendencies, a Joe Craven sit-in, that aforementioned BB King cover, and a stellar version of Jerry Garcia’s “Loser” made it the set of the weekend in my eyes.
Lake Street Dive “Bad Self Portraits”
While most bands fall under the bluegrass category, DelFest is good about mixing it up occasionally. Cue Brooklyn’s Lake Street Dive, who took the soul up a notch with their Sunday afternoon set. It was a hot one, but the group helped the crowd muster through it with a great, unique sound. “Bad Self Portraits,” possibly the group’s most popular song, sounded oh-so good with the mountainous scenery.
Del McCoury Band “New York Trains”
Del McCoury has been selected recently by Woody Guthrie’s family to write music to a selection of his lyrics. This sparked a fantastic segment of Del’s final set on Sunday night, where he paid tribute by performing a few of Woody’s songs.
One track, “New York Trains,” is a track that pokes fun at New York for its hectic and expensive tendencies. As a Floridian who moved to Brooklyn about a year ago, it was a great moment to hear Del poke fun at my new home.
Trampled By Turtles “Codeine” & “Brown Eyed Women”
I’m going to cheat here ever so slightly because Trampled By Turtles brought both sides of their Jekyll & Hide-style of bluegrass to the mainstage for a festival-closing set. One one hand you have the punk-like energy of “Codeine,” which is a speed-demon bluegrass tale about a drug that’ll slow you way down. When they rocked out the opening chords of that one, the entire crowd absolutely lost it.
The other side of things is summarized nicely by their cover of “Brown Eyed Women,” a Grateful Dead classic. With the Dead 50 celebrations taking place all over the country, it was nice to end things on that note, and the Duluth group really gave it love as they closed out the night with a beautiful singalong.