Seize The Day – DelFest 2016

Del McCoury Band at DelFest 2016 - photo © Gina Elliott ProulxSeize The Day….

In one way or another, that phrase became the catchphrase for an entire music festival this past Memorial Day Weekend, 2016.

Seize The Day…

Isn’t that how many of us feel as we arrive FINALLY to what is for most, one of the first bluegrass festivals of the summer season, DelFest? After months of being pent up in homes as the brutality of winter had her way, are we not, upon arrival — suddenly feeling free again, to seize the day, musically or otherwise? What were we waiting for? Warm weather? Permission?

This year’s DelFest was a lot like that infamous day off from school the mythical Ferris Bueller took along with some friends, thirty years ago this summer — festavarians gathered in Cumberland, Maryland to (wait for it,)

Seize The Day…

Because in the words of that famous movie truant: ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in awhile, you could miss it.”

Mudwalking at DelFest 2016 - photo © Gina Elliott ProulxFor the last 9 years our little family has made the journey up to the Allegheny Mountains of Maryland to spend Memorial Day weekend with the McCoury family and their numerous talented friends and fellow musicians. I say friends, because I don’t believe any member of the McCoury family has ever met a ‘stranger.’ Smiles, hugs and handshakes abounded wherever any member of that family found themselves, just like always.

Traditions at DelFest are many, with rainy weather typically at the top of the list. Veterans in the crowd remarked ‘It’s not a DelFest if it doesn’t rain at least a little.’ Rain ponchos came out and everyone continued to seize their days as the music played on. There were years where mud boots were a necessity, and to a degree they still are important. But conditions on site are a great deal more habitable when rain is part of the equation than in previous years. Pea gravel, French drainage systems, and more infrastructure has been added over the years to greatly enhance the festival experience no matter the weather.

As for the lineup this year: Del McCoury’s taste in bringing fresh music to this event never fails. He’s like the Oracle of Bluegrass in this respect, always offering some tried and true as well as a surprise or two each year.

Personal highlights for this writer/photographer include Elephant Revival, a band I’d never seen live before, and my favorite set of the weekend: The Wood Brothers. Evening headliners Tedeschi Trucks, Railroad Earth, The Traveling McCourys and of course The Del McCoury Band themselves, brought the heat nightly. Each band encouraging the crowd to (of course,) seize their days there in the Music Meadow, or wherever one found themselves.

Next year will be the 10th anniversary of this event. How could Del Mc Coury possibly top the past 9 years? I don’t know.  But I intend to bring my little family back next year to find out.