Here’s the roundup of the Top 10 must-see shows for Spring 2019. As always, there is bluegrass happening weekly in Philadelphia, so be sure to bookmark the Philly Bluegrass calendar in your browser. Even better, subscribe to the Philly Bluegrass calendar on your iOS or Android device to stay on top of all the happenings on the Philly bluegrass and roots music scene. Thanks for being here!
March 1: Town Mountain at The Locks at Sona
Town Mountain is in the midst of its lengthy “New Freedom Blues” tour, named after the band’s new album, which the band self-released last fall after working with producer Caleb Klauder (Foghorn Stringband). It makes sense that Town Mountain would play at the Locks at Sona. Town Mountain’s last stop in Philly was at the Tin Angel back in 2016, and The Locks is a collaboration between the original team behind the Tin Angel. Not to mention that Town Mountain is a band that deserves a listening room. Bumper Jacksons duo opens. Tickets $10-14.
March 2-3: Hoot and Holler Plays Two Shows
Hoot and Holler is guitarist Mark Kilianski and fiddler Amy Alvey, who are traveling back southward after a stop at Folk Alliance International in Montreal earlier this month. There are actually two chances to see Hoot and Holler this weekend in Philadelphia: the duo plays a house concert in West Philadelphia on Saturday night, followed by an appearance at the Heritage Bluegrass Brunch series in Northern Liberties. That’s good because you’ll probably want to see them twice. Details for both shows are in the Philly Bluegrass calendar.
March 18: Allison de Groot & Tatiana Hargreaves (House Concert)
Allison de Groot (Molsky’s Mountain Drifters) & Tatiana Hargreaves (Gillian Welch and Laurie Lewis) will be releasing their self-titled debut album on Friday, March 22. This Philadelphia house concert is part of a run of duo shows leading up to the album’s release, which happens to coincide with their appearance at Ken and Brad Kolodner’s inaugural Baltimore Old Time Music Festival, also taking place on March 22 (and which you should also mark on your calendars). Details for the house concert can be found in the Facebook event.
March 24: Robert Earl Keen at World Cafe Live
Robert Earl Keen tackled the bluegrass genre in his most recent studio album, 2015’s “Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Session.” However, Keen technically has a newer, non-bluegrass studio album out at the moment, as it was revealed last fall that Keen, along with Randy Rogers, were behind the fictional band, Stryker Brothers, and their 2018 release, “Burn Band.” Keen visits Philly in the middle of a four-week East Coast run. Tickets $32-40.
April 5: Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives at the Colonial Theater
25-year Grand Ole Opry veteran Marty Stuart is about as Nashville as it gets; his mom was a square dancer on the Opry, he told the Philly Voice’s A.D. Amorosi in 2017. But as Nashville as he is, Stuart is actually a native Philadelphian. Philadelphia, Mississippi, that is. His Fabulous Superlatives perform both in a bluegrass configuration and in a plugged-in format, with Stuart wielding Clarence White’s B-Bender. Whatever the format, this is a band not to miss when they are in town. Tickets $30-$200 at www.thecolonialtheatre.com.
April 12-14: Wilmington Wintergrass feat. Michael Cleveland
The Wilmington Wintergrass festival’s name may have been slightly more appropriate in years past, when the festival took place three weeks earlier. But given the polar vortex greeting us at the outset of March 2019, odds seem good that winter will not seem too far off come April. Michael Cleveland headlines. Philly favorites the River Bones Band also take the stage. Tickets run $70 for the weekend. Hotel rooms are additional, and still available starting at $137/night as of this writing.
April 24: Driftwood at Boot & Saddle
Driftwood visits Philly in the midst of their “Tree of Shade” tour, after the album that the band will release on April 5. The first single, “Lay Like You Do,” is already out (official music video below). The band, which prides itself on its live show, has some standout dates on the calendar for 2019, including MerleFest and Camden Rocks in the United Kingdom. “The game has been live shows and nose to the ground since the beginning,” says guitarist/songwriter Dan Forsyth. Tickets $10.
April 27: Chick Corea & Béla Fleck at Keswick Theatre
Chick Corea, one of the most accomplished living jazz pianists, and Béla Fleck, who needs no introduction on a bluegrass website, have paired up before, including for 2015’s “Two” live recording. This will be a chance to see Béla in an intimate setting before he hits the festival circuit this summer with the 30th anniversary tour of the Flecktones’ “Flight of the Cosmic Hippo.” Tickets $40-$80 at keswicktheatre.com.
May 10: Del & Dawg at Wilmington Opera House
Del & Dawg have been quite busy lately, and were in Philadelphia as recently as last fall for the mercurial Philly Bluegrass Revival (no relation). The #DelYeah crew will surely descend on the Opera House, as they did on Franklin Music Hall in September. For many, it will be just a prelude to the 12th annual DelFest taking place two weeks later in Cumberland, MD. Tickets for the Wilmington Opera House show are $35-42 at thegrandwilmington.org.
May 18: Molly Tuttle at The Locks at Sona
Molly Tuttle will release her latest album, produced by Ryan Hewitt (The Avett Brothers, The Lumineers), on Compass Records on April 5. If the first single, “Million Miles,” is any indication, the new record will be lush and melody-driven. But don’t think that means that you won’t see some flatpicking fireworks at The Locks at Sona. Molly Tuttle plays two shows on May 18: at 4pm and 8pm. Tickets $25-35 at the thelocksmusic.com.