Watermelon Park Fest!
Loretta Lynn

For fifty years now, Loretta has fashioned a body of work as artistically and commercially successful—and as culturally significant—as any female performer you'd care to name. Her music has confronted many of the major social issues of her time, and her life story is a rags-to-riches tale familiar to pop, rock and country fans alike. The Coal Miner's Daughter—the tag refers to a hit single, an album, a best-selling autobiography, an Oscar-winning film, and to Lynn herself—has journeyed from the poverty of the Kentucky hills to Nashville superstardom to her current status as an honest-to-goodness American icon. Lorettalynn.com

Pokey Lafarge

We are very excited to have Pokey Lafarge returning to the Festival this year. Incorporating elements of early jazz, ragtime, country blues, Western swing, and beyond, LaFarge has created a vibrant, deeply expressive body of work that embodies an expansive musical vision and vivid storytelling sensibility that are wholly his own. He's also earned a reputation as a tireless, uniquely charismatic live performer, winning a loyal international fan base that regularly packs his rousing, celebratory live shows. Pokeylafarge.com

Hot Rize

Hot Rize has been astounding the bluegrass world with their fresh, contemporary approach to traditional music ever since their formation in 1978. The band's unique and progressive style of bluegrass, powerful original songs, tight-as-a-drum ensemble playing, and dynamic stage show quickly made them stars on the major festival circuit and far beyond. In 1990, Hot Rize won the first-ever International Bluegrass Association's first Entertainer of the Year Award and in 1991 they picked up a Grammy nom for Best Bluegrass album and won IBMA Song of the Year. Since the 90's, this all-star band has kept their legend alive by performing at only the most prestigious festivals (like Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, Telluride, Bonnaroo, and GreyFox) and a few select venues. In 2014, they are releasing their much-anticipated studio album, their first in 24 years, and will support it with a national fall tour. This crazy thing happens when you hire Hot Rize – everywhere they go, the ever-popular Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers shows up as well. Invited or not, at some point during the night, they are going to take the stage and wow the crowd with their classic honky tonk and western music. The combination of these two bands (who bear some resemblance) makes this one world-class evening of entertainment, a rare event not to be missed. Hotrize.com

The Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band

GRAMMY-award winner and six-time GRAMMY nominee, Peter Rowan is a bluegrass singer-songwriter with a career spanning over five decades. From his early years playing under the tutelage of bluegrass patriarch Bill Monroe, Peter's stint in Old & In the Way with Jerry Garcia and his subsequent breakout as both a solo performer and bandleader, Rowan has built a devoted, international fan base through his continuous stream of original recordings, collaborative projects, and constant touring. Joining guitarist Peter Rowan are Keith Little, banjo; Paul Knight, bass; Chris Henry, mandolin; and Blaine Sprouse, fiddle. Peter Rowan website 

Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers

Red Knuckles and the Trailblazers is a band that travels in the back of the Hot Rize bus and occasionally spells their employers on stage. The foursome (Red Knuckles, Wendell Mercantile, Waldo Otto, and Swade) plays 40's and 50's country music as well as you might expect from people who have mostly listened to the same jukebox for most of their lives. That jukebox, at the Eat Cafe in Wyoming, Montana, is where Red and the boys first met Hot Rize and agreed to leave their home to pursue fortune and fame. redknuckles.com

Cedric Watson

One of our festival regulars and one of the brightest young talents to emerge in Cajun, Creole and Zydeco (Louisiana French) music over the last decade, Cedric Watson is a four-time Grammy-nominated fiddler, singer, accordionist & songwriter with seemingly unlimited potential. Cedricwatson.com

Furnace Mountain Band

Furnace Mountain Though often overshadowed by Southwest Virginia and its famed Crooked Road, the Shenandoah Valley and Virginia's northwestern counties have always been fertile ground for traditional music, and they continue to be home to many of its finest practitioners. The region is situated between the Appalachian hills of West Virginia and the culturally diverse and ever-changing Washington, D.C., metropolitan area, and is known for producing musicians who transcend generic categories, deftly taking traditional music styles in new directions. Furnace Mountain, named for a mountain near where all the members grew up, consists of some of the most innovative and gifted young musicians in Virginia. With Aimee Curl on bass and vocals, Danny Knicely on mandolin and fiddle, Dave Van Deventer on fiddle, and Morgan Morrison on guitar, bouzouki, and vocals, the band creates music that is at times lively and raucous, with spirited fiddle melodies weaving in and around the powerful rhythms of the bass and bouzouki, and other times poignant and poetic, with sublime vocal harmonies beautifully interpreting some of the oldest songs ever written. Furnace Mountain has performed throughout the world, from the Yangtze River in China to the banks of the Shenandoah River, where they are the host band of Watermelon Park Festival, held on the site of one of the very first bluegrass festivals, in 1965. Furnace Mountain plays music from the American Appalachian traditions, as well as original compositions, and songs penned by their favorite song writing friends. Furnacemountain.com

Sunday Gospel Extravaganza with the Ingramettes and the Family of Praise

Many said that Maggie Ingram and the Ingramettes' performance was the best set of 2014. This year we mourn the passing of the great Maggie Ingram, and plan a house-rocking celebration of her life with her beloved Ingramettes and the Family of Praise Choir of Richmond. Trust us: You do not want to miss this! Born July 4, 1930, on Mulholland's Plantation in Coffee County, Georgia, Evangelist Maggie Ingram moved her family to Richmond in 1961, first in the home of Oliver W. Hill Sr., the prominent civil rights attorney, while joining her family in what would become the most celebrated gospel group in the city's history. The Ingramettes are quite simply gospel royalty in Richmond. In 2009 Maggie was awarded the first ever Virginia State Heritage Award, and in 2011 Maggie was awarded a doctor of music from Virginia Triumphant College and Seminary. The Ingramettes have continued to carry on Maggie's legacy and ministry, led by Maggie's daughter, the electrifying Almeta Ingram-Miller. Maggie's granddaughter, Cheryl Beaver, continues to perform with the Ingramettes as well as leading her own group, the Family of Praise. Together, these groups will celebrate Maggie in a way only they can, blessing our Dance Tent on Sunday Morning. After last year's performance, Almeta said that she felt that there was "something incredibly spiritual" about Watermelon Park. We agree, and we can't wait. Sponsored by the Virginia Folklife Program

The Woodshedders

The Woodshedders From The Washinton Post: "As Americana shape-shifters, the Woodshedders deftly move between various styles of roots music. The five-piece string band first formed out of a weekly gypsy-jazz gig in Harpers Ferry, but on its third album, "Wildfire," the group reveals a much broader range of influences. Album opener "Highway" is a pastoral, acoustic folk journey that cruises with dexterous bow work from fiddler Dave Van Deventer. More fluid chops are on display in the newgrass instrumental "Keel Reel," which showcases nimble-fingered guitar and mandolin runs. Beyond the tight string work, the most engaging thing about the Woodshedders's sound is guitarist and lead singer Dwayne Brooke's versatile vocals. In the alt-country ramble "Two Strings," Brooke sings with a mellow ache that sounds as if it could have come from Conor Oberst or Okkervil River's Will Sheff. But when he raises the volume in the swamp-funk stomp of "River Blues," he stretches his pipes with a raw blues power that might make Robert Plant raise his eyebrows. There's more electric charge on the backwoods rocker "O Dig," but the album rarely stays in one genre for long. "Love Crumbs" has a vintage swing groove and speedy honky-tonk guitar runs, while "Rabbit Hole" delivers a dance-friendly Cajun rhythm. Impressively, it all manages to stay cohesive. " - — Jedd Ferris, The Washington Post. Above Photo by Richele Cole 2015 thewoodshedders.com

Barefoot Movement

Heartfelt, energetic, and down home. Heralded by CMT Edge as "one of the most promising bands on the bluegrass scene," the music of the Nashville based group The Barefoot Movement is as down to earth as their intention for members of their audience: sit back, relax, take your shoes off, and stay a while. All the worries and frustrations of the world melt away as the charming four-piece acoustic band takes listeners back to a simpler place and time. Whether you're seeking emotional ballads or rip-roaring barn-burners, you can expect a collection of music that offers something for everyone. With two full length albums, several cross-country tours, and appearances at some of the top bluegrass festivals in the United States already under their belt, the possibilities are endless. The group has enjoyed almost non-stop touring including a trip to Burkina Faso, Africa where they were guests of the American Embassy. Debuting in September, 2014, their third release, "The High Road EP" showcases traditional material that has consistently been among the crowd favorites at their live performances. Barefootmovemant.com Sponsored by the Virginia Folklife Program

The Bumper Jacksons

The Bumper Jacksons are hot and sweet, painting America's story from New Orleans' brothels to Appalachian hollers. Unafraid to scrap together new sounds from forgotten 78's, the Bumper Jacksons boldly and elegantly balance paying homage to the traditions while fashioning their own unique, DIY style. Recognized as the region's "Best Traditional Folk Band" at the 2013 and 2014 Washington Area Music Awards, the Bumper Jacksons are playfully creative with their originals and re-imagining roots music with both power and tenderness. Bursting at the seams with some of the richest threads of old America, Bumper Jacksons bring you into the center of a party where everyone's invited and the dance floor never sleeps. Bumperjacksons.com

Charm City Junction

From dance inducing Old Time rhythms and foot stomping Irish melodies to hard-driving Bluegrass, Baltimore-based Charm City Junction creates a fresh soundscape that keeps listeners on the edge of their seats wondering where they'll go next. The band is comprised of four of the most talented and promising acoustic roots musicians in the country: Patrick McAvinue on fiddle, Brad Kolodner on clawhammer banjo, Sean McComiskey on button accordion and Alex Lacquement on upright bass. Drawing from separate musical backgrounds, the four members have found a common ground on which to develop their unique approach. Patrick McAvinue, one of the most in-demand and highly respected bluegrass fiddlers in the country, takes charge with his virtuosic, powerful and musical approach to the fiddle. Clawhammer banjo wizard Brad Kolodner adds his playful, driving, melodic and groovy Old-Time touch. Sean McComiskey, an incredibly talented Irish button accordion player, soars through the tunes and fills the gaps with his soulful playing. The versatile bassist Alex Lacquement drives the train, locking everything together with his commanding and tasteful choices. Charmcity.com

Danny Knicely and Jack Dunlap

The Folklife Apprenticeship pairs an experienced master artist with an eager learner, in order to help ensure that a particular art form is passed on in ways which are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. The master artist is one who has achieved a high level of skill in the particular traditional art form, who is regarded as a master of the craft by his/her peers, and who has learned and developed his/her skill within its traditional context. The apprentice is one who has demonstrated an interest and competency in the art form prior to the apprenticeship, and who shows a sincere commitment to learning the nuanced qualities of the tradition, and carrying the tradition on into the future. Dannyknicely.com

Buds Collective

Bud's Collective is a powerful group of pickers from the hills of West Virginia. While their music reflects roots firmly planted in Bluegrass tradition, they do not hesitate to add to it in ways all their own. Playing a tasteful mix of front man Buddy Dunlap's original material and popular hits ranging from Stevie Wonder to Alabama and all points in between, Bud's Collective has been making waves in the music scene since the inception of the group in 2012. Budscollective.com

Knicely Family Band

The Knicely Family Band Virginia's Shenandoah Valley has long been fertile ground for the development of old time and bluegrass music, and the Knicely Family have been one of the most prominent musical families in Rockingham County for generations. Multi-instrumentalist A. O. Knicely was a staple at area barn dances in the 1930s. His son Glen soaked up this music as a child, and along with his wife Darlena, passed this tradition on to sons David, Danny, and Neil. Danny has become one of the most respected and versatile multi-instrumentalists of his generation, collaborating with prominent musicians in the U.S. and abroad. He has won many awards for his mandolin, guitar, fiddle, and flatfoot expertise, including first place in the mandolin contest at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival. While the family rarely performs together, they are regularly found jamming at fiddlers' conventions and other musical gatherings across Virginia.

Mason Via

Mason Via is a talented young musician/singer/songwriter out of Danbury, NC, who is on his rise to stardom. At the moment he has just released his debut CD, "Up, Up, Up", which contains only Mason's originals. Mason has recorded this CD at the studio of one of Ben Fold's past touring guitarists, Britt Uzzell, commonly known as Snüzz. Britt is also currently a founding member and active part of the NC Music Love Army. Mason has been playing acoustic guitar since the age of 12. Being taught by his father, notable bluegrass musician David Via; winner of the 2009 International/American Folk Alliance Songwriters Contest, held at Mountain Stage and 3 time Chris Austin Songwriting contest winner(Merlefest). As well as being taught by accomplished musicians Rex Mcgee, Ryan Cavanagh, and Clay Jones. Mason's lyrics are considered by many to be the driving force behind the band's music, and his vocals back up the deep emotion that his lyrics possess. Masonvia.com

The Nessie expedition

The Nessie expedition, the Japanese Bluegrass band. Our band, consists of 5 players who love to play a traditional and authentic bluegrass music since 1971. We have released 2 CDs in Japan and performed bluegrass at Denver festival with Bill Monroe in 1976 and at Jerusalem ridge Bluegrass Cerebrations in 2012.

Colebrook Road

The band was named winners of the 2014 Watermelon Park Fest band contest in Virginia and the 2011 Pickin' In The Panhandle band contest in West Virginia. With an ever increasing touring schedule that covers a wide geographic range, the music of Colebrook Road has been brought to the ears of many appreciative audiences. Colebrookroad.com

Matt Jones and the Bobs

Matt Jones and the Bobs are a folky roots-rock sextet, notable for their inclusive style and poignant songwriting. Audiences across Appalachia are delighted by performances which strike the tender emotions, then rise to joyous, celebratory heights. Well-penned lyrics - about departed ancestors, lasting lovers, or friends at war - produce clear, detailed images in the listener's mind. Expert musicianship then wraps these images in stirring moods, making their rollicking numbers never shallow, but gritty and real. Both dancing shoes and sensitive hearts are welcomed by the sound of this Americana offering.

The Plank Stompers

Plank Stompers do not like to think of themselves as a group; but rather, as a movement. Before knowing Plank Stompers, you must first know the Preamble to the Stompstitution: "We, the Stompers of the United Planks, in order to form a more funky union, establish ruckus, insure intergalactic stank-quility, and provide listening pleasure to whoever we may encounter along the way, do hereby proclaim: If sound was butter, and the last 250 years were a biscuit, then Plank Stompers would be the hypothetical knife that smears, scrapes, and swirls all of the sounds from the past together. Pickaxes and pianos, war whoops and woodwinds, fiddles sawin' and crows cawin', bass drones and mobile phones, all getting pushed into a greasy noise anthology."

The Plate Scrapers

The Plate Scrapers are a four piece string band performing traditional bluegrass and old-time tunes, topped off with a helping of their own original material. The bands wide taste in music, ability to jam, and impeccable instrumentation, will keep you coming back for seconds!