Bluegrass on the Grass
Nearly 3,000 music fans flocked to campus July 9 to take in the 2011 Bluegrass on the Grass festival. Now in its 16th year, the free, daylong event shines a spotlight on well-known musicians and draws fans from several neighboring states.
Supported by the college, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts/Jump Street, music-industry representatives and local businesses, the festival has grown from a small concert attracting approximately 200 people to the college’s largest annual, public-service event.
It is a labor of love for Davis Tracy, the now-retired director of Dickinson’s Counseling Center who has headed up the festival since its start. A musician and longtime host of bluegrass radio shows on WDCV, Tracy has many industry contacts, and he knows how to attract top talent. “Our festival is prized by artists because we treat them graciously, and the artists always sell a lot of their recorded music,” he explained. [Story continues below.]
As a result, Bluegrass on the Grass consistently features top-drawer musicians. Many come to Carlisle from southern Appalachia, home of the bluegrass movement. And some, such as the Dismembered Tennesseans, return for repeat performances.
This year, the Tennesseans shared the stage with Louie Setzer & the Appalachian Mountain Boys, The Freight Hoppers and Chatham County Line. The internationally recognized Claire Lynch Band headed the bill.
Before embarking on a solo career, Lynch was a backup singer for Dolly Parton, who described the younger musician’s voice as “one of the sweetest, purest and best lead voices in the music business today.” Lynch also has shared the stage with legends Emmylou Harris, Linda Ronstadt, Patty Loveless, Kathy Mattea and Ralph Stanley. Last year, she was awarded the 2010 IBMA trophy for female vocalist of the year.
Tracy, who has featured Lynch’s music on his radio show for 15 years, said that the crowd was particularly quiet and attentive during Lynch’s set. “It could have been because [she] sings such thoughtful and reverent tunes so beautifully,” he said.
See photos of last year's festival.
By MaryAlice Bitts Jackson
Photos by A. Pierce Bounds ’71