The summer solstice is come and gone, and the summer music scene is heating up along with the temperatures. It has been a busy week here at Philly Bluegrass HQ, with a fantastic Bluegrass Brunch featuring the Citywide Specials and a community bluegrass jam at The Rail Park for #MakeMusicDay. There’s plenty more local happenings this summer, so keep an eye on the Philly Bluegrass Calendar for those. In addition to local gigs and jams, the calendar has been updated with some standout touring acts visiting the Philadelphia area this summer. Here are a few of the highlights.
June 26: Mr. Sun at Arden Gild Hall (with The High & Wides)
Led by the legendary fiddler Darol Anger, Mr. Sun is: mandolinist Joe K. Walsh, guitarist Grant Gordy, and bassist Aidan O’Donnell. In May, the group released its second full-length studio record on Compass Records. The new album, Extrovert, features three vocal tracks spotlighting Walsh, and eight instrumentals spotlighting some of the best instrumental virtuosity in the business. Tickets for the show are $23. The High & Wides and Sharon Bousquet open.
July 10: The Kruger Brothers at Philadelphia Folksong Society
Brothers Jens (banjo) and Uwe (guitar) Kruger got their musical start busking on the streets of Europe as pre-teens, and signed a record deal before the age of 18. In 1995, they teamed up with New York City’s Joel Landsberg (bass), and the trio has been performing together as The Kruger Brothers ever since. On July 10 they visit the Roxborough section of Philly, home to the Philadelphia Folksong Society’s performance space. Tickets $18-$26.
July 20: Willie Watson at Sellersville Theater
Willie Watson, a founding member of Old Crow Medicine Show, has in recent years established himself as a modern interpreter of folk songs, as he does expertly in his most recent recording project, Folksinger Vol. 2 (Acony Records). And it’s not only Watson’s music that is vintage. He is also the creator of 100% handmade vintage-inspired clothing via his Willie Watson Mfg Co. Tickets $25-$40. The Hoppin’ Boxcars open.
July 23: Peter Rowan at Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center (West Chester)
Rowan’s brand new studio project, Calling You From My Mountain (Rebel Records), features Billy Strings, Shawn Camp, Molly Tuttle, Lindsay Lou, and Mark Howard. Rowan says the album’s title hearkens to the joy of returning to the stage. “The joy of playing live music again calls for raising our voices from the mountain tops,” Rowan said. Rowan’s record also features his new band, comprising Chris Henry (mandolin), Max Wareham (banjo), Julian Pinelli (fiddle), and Eric Thorin (bass). Tickets $42.
July 31: East Nash Grass at the TileWorks (Doylestown)
Calling themselves “Nashville’s newest bluegrass ambassadors,” East Nash Grass began life as a pickup band in 2017, but in recent years has transformed into a more serious project, writing their own original music, and self-releasing their first studio album in July 2021. The band is Cory Walker (banjo), Geoff Saunders (bass), James Kee (mandolin), Maddie Denton (fiddle), Harry Clark (guitar), Gavin Largent (dobro). Tickets $25. With Cirotti Trio.
August 4: Leftover Salmon at Ardmore Music Hall
Leftover Salmon returns to the Philly area for the first time since banjoist Andy Thorn became internet famous in 2021 thanks to the viral videos of Thorn serenading a fox (“foxy”) near his Colorado mountain home. Even Kelly Clarkson took notice, getting a good chuckle over Leftover’s name in process. The band takes the stage at jam mecca Ardmore Music Hall on August 4. Tickets $26-$45.
August 13: The Gibson Brothers at Sellersville Theater
Regular performers at Sellersville Theater, The Gibson Brothers’ most recent album, Mockingbird, is their first release on the Easy Eye Sound label run by Dan Auerbach (The Black Keys). Auerbach also produced the record, so it’s no surprise that it has a distinct crossover vibe, with several tracks that sound like they could appear on mainstream country radio or Americana charts. Tickets $30-$40.
August 18-21: Festival Weekend! (Take your pick: 60th Annual Philadelphia Folk Fest or 83rd Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival)
It’s a twofer the weekend of August 18, and a tough choice for bluegrass and roots music lovers. Your decision may depend on whether you favor the traditional bluegrass lineups typical of Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival, or the more progressive group of bands performing at this year’s Philly Folk Fest, which includes the American Acoustic supergroup (Punch Brothers, Watchhouse, Sarah Jarosz). Either way, the choice is yours. Single day or all-festival tickets are available at folkfest.org and gettysburgbluegrass.com, respectively.
August 28: Dan Tyminski Band (with The Keystone Mountain Boys) at the TileWorks (Doylestown)
The Dan Tyminski Band hits the road in 2022 in support of two forthcoming recording projects. The first is an EP celebrating the legacy of the late Tony Rice, featuring Jerry Douglas, Sam Bush, and Todd Phillips. The second is a brand new full-length bluegrass record, due in early 2023. Exact release dates for both projects are TBD. Tyminski visits the inaugural Bluegrass at the TileWorks Summer Series on Sunday, August 28. Philly’s own The Keystone Mountain Boys open. Tickets $40.
September 2-4: Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival
Founded by Bill Monroe and Dr. Ralph Stanley in 1972, the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival is one of the nation’s original bluegrass festivals. This year marks the 50th edition of the festival, which shows no sign of slowing down after half a century. To celebrate that milestone, on Saturday evening Del McCoury Band, with special guests Claire Lynch and Danny Paisley, will perform a tribute to the festival’s illustrious founders. Full weekend adult tickets $116 (through August 14).