Last weekend was the 2nd Annual Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival, and I’m so lucky to have stumbled upon the event this year. Unfortunately, due to conflicts, I could only stay for three of the acts, but they were the acts I wanted to see the most. This year, the festival was held at Druid Hill park in Baltimore by the Maryland Zoo. Even arriving late, there were no issues with parking and the crowd was a comfortable size for the grassy concert setting.
The first act I caught was Sierra Hull, a 22 year old mandolin phenom who also has a very lovely voice. Her set was quite short, but was enough to make her talent obvious. It’s like the mandolin just bends to her every desire, and you can’t keep up with her fingers.
Next up was Chris Eldridge, or what I think of as 20% of one of my favorite groups, Punch Brothers, and his performance partner Julian Lage. Their set was a mix of folk, jazz, blues, and bluegrass. Their guitar skills were complementary, and it was nice to hear Chris on vocal lead.
The third, and final, act I was able to catch was Noam Pikelny and Friends. It was obvious that Chris would be joining his fellow banjo-playing Punch Brother on stage, but I was surprised to see Gabe Witcher come on stage, as well, as the fiddle player. I had expected Luke Bella, who often tours with Noam. So, I was happy as a clam to now have 60% of Punch Brothers! Joining those three were Aoife O’Donovan on vocals (and in very cute yellow suede booties, I might add), Barry Bales (from Allison Krauss and Union Station) on bass, and Jesse Cobb on mandolin.
Joining them on stage for some of the final songs in the set was the festival’s headliner, Jerry Douglas with his dobro. I was happy he came on stage because I thought I was going to miss him all together. Even with just a short time there, it was a very entertaining afternoon and evening, and there’s no doubt I would go back next year! I’m also very thankful that it didn’t end up raining, like the forecast predicted. Unfortunately, hours later, I am not thankful for the bad decision I made for dinner – corn dog and funnel cake. Blech!
* All photos were taken with my go-to concert point and shoot camera – a Panasonic Lumix – which I regularly use for its great video. It’s normally not as good for still shots, but apparently it performs better than expected in outdoor venues!