Lonesome Fest – New Hampshire’s friendliest fall music festival

The Bagboys at the 2018 Lonesome Fest – photo by Dale Cahill

The question was asked; How do you get lonesome harmonies? We don’t have the answer, but we did have a ball at this year’s Lonesome Fest. Held at Rock Maple Woods in Strafford, NH, this event grows slow but sure. Low key is the name of the game for founder and owner of the property, Cecil Abels. He grows his Festival like he makes his world-famous Mr. Sippy BBQ, low and slow!

Joe K Walsh returned this year, this time with three Berklee performance students, Ella Jordon on fiddle and vocals, Korey Brodsky on guitar and mandolin, and Brittany Karlson on vocals and bass. Watch out for this young fiddle player, you will hear her down the road as her voice could make the angels jealous. As for Joe, a full-time strings instructor at Berklee College of Music, he will be playing a couple of gigs out west this fall with Scott Nygaard. He also plans to do some touring with Danny Barnes and Grant Gordy.

This year’s line also included singer /songwriter Rachel McCartney who returned this year and was better and more soulful then ever. You may have seen her at Ossipee Music Festival in New Hampshire this past summer. She will be returning there and to Lonesome Fest again next year. Harvey Reid and Joyce Andersen, musical troubadours, returned for their 5th year at Lonesome Fest. Their combined talents and musical synergy make them a festival favorite. The Bagboys (a 30 plus year old band out of Boston), who play a combination of traditional and original bluegrass, as well as some Western Swing were new to the lineup and delivered two great sets. Cormac McCarthy, Green Heron, and The Dale and Darcy Band rounded out the lineup.

The weather cooperated with seasonally cool evenings, just right for hot fires and cold beer. New this year was a giant movie screen and projector system. Everyone enjoyed an oldie but a goodie, Cool Hand Luke, with Old blue-eyes, Paul Newman, and the now famous line, “what we have here is a failure to communicate!”

A new sound board and sound man, Joe Goodin, came up from DC to make sure there was no failure to communicate the sweet sound coming from the stage. He is one of many volunteers who make sure that Rock Maple Woods is ready for Lonesome Fest each year. Much of the crowd is made up of day-visiting locals, but there was also a group of “in the rough” campers who came from Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts. The Rock Maple Woods stage is in a natural amphitheatre located under a beautiful grove of maples, which when lit at night by tiki torches glows with warmth.

So back to the question; How do you get a lonesome harmony? Seems like an oxymoron, right? Well we heard plenty of harmony that night. So lonesome!

Already looking forward to next year.

Stay lonesome my friends!!