10 Must-See Shows for Summer 2021

It has been 482 days since the spring 2020 roundup was posted on this site on March 5, 2020. A week later, the Covid outbreak would put a halt to live music in Philadelphia.

It might seem frivolous in the context of more than 600,000 deaths in the U.S., but for many of us live music was among our greatest losses this past year. Some losses were temporary, like annual summer festivals and jams. Some were permanent, like John Prine and the Boot & Saddle.

We know it is not over. But as we cautiously reopen, bands are going back on the road, venues are opening back up, and fans can once again enjoy concerts. With deep reverence for all that we have lost, we can now look forward to a long-awaited summer of live music.

To keep track of it all, we have begun the work of rebuilding the Philly Bluegrass calendar, starting with the roundup of top Philadelphia-area shows for summer 2021 we think you will not want to miss. Know of any upcoming Philadelphia area jams and shows not listed on the calendar? Send them our way.

See you out there!

Philly Bluegrass

June 30: Andy Falco (of The Infamous Stringdusters) at 118 North (Wayne, PA)

Just this month, Andy Falco, singer and guitarist for The Infamous Stringdusters, announced a new tour and solo album of original material due out July 16. Falco told Grateful Web that the pandemic gave him the time to “truly dive into songwriting in a way I never had before.” The first two singles are out now, and would fit right in on a Dead & Co. setlist this summer. Seated tickets $22.

July 11: Tony Trischka & Dudley Connell Band at Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts

The Tony Trischka and Dudley Connell Band performs at the Bryn Mawr Twilight Concerts series July 11 in a unique configuration. In addition to Trischka (“the great banjo liberationist” – NPR) and Connell (Johnson Mountain Boys, The Seldom Scene), the band includes Bluegrass Hall of Famers Marshall Wilborn and David Mclaughlin (also of the Johnson Mountain Boys), as well as singer and guitarist Sally Love. Mark Schultz & the Wayne Rangers opens. Tickets $15.

July 11: Jacob Jolliff Band at Sellersville Theater

“I’ve never been more excited to announce a tour,” says Jolliff of the upcoming summer run of shows with his band. After touring with Yonder Mountain String Band from 2014-2019, Jolliff is now focused on his own group, which includes Alex Hargreaves on fiddle, Stash Wyslouch on guitar, and Jeff Picker on bass. Tickets $20-30.

July 25: Dirty Grass Players at People’s Light Drive-In Concerts (Malvern, PA)

Maryland’s Dirty Grass Players are hitting the road this summer. In July, DGP will be one of six bands performing across two days and two stages at the first ever Folk Weekend at People’s Light Drive-In Concerts in Malvern. Bands will play the drive-in stage plus a new lawn and chair seating stage (The Glen). Day passes $175 per vehicle (up to 5 passengers).

July 27: Hawktail at Sellersville Theater

Hawktail is Brittany Haas, Paul Kowert, Jordan Tice, and Dominick Leslie. The band was among many that released new albums in 2020 that are finally getting a chance to hit the road. Inspired to come together by a shared love of the Swedish group Väsen, Hawktail’s Scandinavian roots continue to show in their new material. Livestream also available. Tickets $22-30.

August 5-8: 32nd Annual AFBA Festival (Wind Gap, PA)

Held in Wind Gap, PA the Appalachian Fiddle & Bluegrass Association (AFBA) Festival returns this year with almost 30 bands across two stages, and a great wooded campground. In addition to The Gibson Brothers, performers include Danny Paisley and Southern Grass, Hogslop String Band, Dirty Grass Players, Serene Green, and many more. Weekend tickets $65.

August 28: Doyle Lawson at Sellersville Theater

With Doyle Lawson announcing retirement plans for the end of 2022, now is a great time to catch him perform with his band Quicksilver. The band’s latest studio recording “Roundtable” was released June 25 on Billy Blue Records. Tickets $30-40. (Show being sold at full capacity.)

September 3-5: Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival (New Jersey)

After a year off, the Brandywine Friends of Old Time Music are back at it with one of bluegrass’ longest running and storied festivals. Del McCoury Band, Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver headline 17 bands across three days at the Salem County Fairgrounds. Weekend tickets $105 through August 15 (includes camping).

September 11: Outlaw Music Festival (The Mann Center)

Willie Nelson headlines and Sturgill Simpson makes his first Philadelphia appearance since March 2020’s cancelled show at The Met. Simpson is touring behind a pair of new albums, both featuring bluegrass adaptations of his catalog, and showcasing some of the best in the business in the so-called Hillbilly Avengers (Mark Howard, Scott Vestal, Mike Bub, Sierra Hull, Tim O’Brien, Miles Miller, and Stuart Duncan). Tickets $35-95.

September 16: The Ghost of Paul Revere at Johnny Brenda’s

At last The Ghost of Paul Revere can hit the road in support of their third album, “Good at Losing Everything.” At last we can again experience a show at Johnny Brenda’s, which got creative last year with popup rooftop concerts. Tickets $15.

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