2018 Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival report

Jenny Brook promoter Candi Sawyer poses with her Jimmy Martin cutout – photo by Darcy Cahill

Welcome to the 18th annual Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival!

It seems like Candi and Seth Sawyer have done it again. They are busy this morning getting ready for the music to begin in the green mountains of Tunbridge, Vermont. Always mindful of ways to make Jenny Brook run more smoothly, they have streamlined arrivals with a new system that allows folks to enter in the order they arrive and wait in separate lines while the staff takes tickets, places a Jenny Brook sticker on the windshield, and individually guides each guest to their camping spot. Thankfully their staff knows all the ins and outs of moving big rigs into place, so camp set-up, an event that can cause friction in the best of marriages, was a pleasure.

Some of the Jenny Brook traditions that early arrivals and “repeat offenders” have come to love include the pre-festival Wednesday Night Barn Dance and Potluck Supper, kids’ activities, The Pick’n Place, the Sugar House Stage, and the Bluegrass University are all scheduled over the next few days. 

Hone your skills on your favorite instrument at the Bluegrass University workshops or jam at The Sugar House Stage where festival favorites stop in after the night’s program to jam with fans. Tonight the Po’ Ramblin’ Boys will be at the Sugar House Stage (See our article from June 19th about the Po Ramblin’ Boys big news), and on Friday night folks will be jamming with Carson Peters & Iron Mountain and Bob Amos & Catamount Crossing, and on Saturday Mickey Galyean & Cullen’s Bridge and Dreamcatcher will lead the jam. 

Candi and Seth have also included some surprises this year. Remington Ryde will pay tribute to James King, and Jimmy Martin’s wife, Barbara Martin Stephens, is here for a book signing of her book Don’t Give your Heart to a Rambler. This is a remarkable story of a woman who pioneered the booking agent industry in bluegrass and country music. This will be followed by a performance by Audie Blaylock and Redline. There are even rumors that Jimmy Martin might show up for a photo op. 

It is a comfort to pull into a festival and see old friends and acquaintances. Within fifteen minutes we ran into our old friend, Rich Heepe, who has put in many years volunteering at festivals like Winter Hawk/Grey Fox, Ossipee Valley, and others. This weekend he is here to relax and enjoy the music. Speaking of old friends and volunteers, Kenny Whiton has been with Seth and Candi for the past 18 years. Seth and Candi both agree that without volunteers, large festivals don’t happen.  Fan favorites Cool Beans Coffee and Ye Olde English Fish and Chips set up early to serve hot coffee and mouth watering Maine seafood. To be this far inland and be able to order fresh fish is a treat. 

It is ten o’clock and the festival is about to begin. Time for us to go make some memories. We agree with Candi’s sentiment and fond wish that, “Bluegrass is music with a long memory – and I hope the memories you make this year never fade.” 

We hope so too!