10 Must-See Shows for Spring 2019

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.

10 Must-See Shows for Fall 2018

Autumn officially began in the Northern Hemisphere two weeks ago, so there’s no time for an extended introduction to this season’s 10 Must-See Shows. Suffice it to say that our bluegrass cornocopia overfloweth this season, and there are many more excellent touring acts deserving of your entertainment dollars than can fit on this list. You’ll want to visit the full Philly Bluegrass Calendar to stay on top of it all, including performances by local and regional bands. And it’s easier than ever to keep track: now you can add the Philly Bluegrass Calendar to your iPhone or Android device so you’ll never again miss a must-see show.

October 7: The Lonely Heartstring Band at Kimberton Park Amphitheater

The Kimberton Arts Alliance presents The Lonely Heartstring Band for the first show in the Alliance’s new American Roots series. Born out of the Berklee College of Music as a Beatles cover band, The Lonely Heartstring Band has matured into a highly-decorated band (including an IBMA Band Momentum trophy), and are preparing to release their second album of original music (Smoke and Ashes) on Rounder Records in February. Tickets: $20.

October 10: Fruition, The Lil Smokies at Boot & Saddle

Road warriors The Lil Smokies have been busy since last performing at Boot & Saddle in February. They’ve played festivals all over the dang place this summer (Telluride, FloydFest, String Summit, to name a few) and also hit the road with Greensky Bluegrass this fall. It’s a double bill on October 10 with Fruition, hot off the release of their fifth studio album, which Relix called an “experiment in catharsis.” Sounds good right about now. Advance tickets: $20.

October 28: Della Mae at Boot & Saddle

Formed in Boston in 2009 and now based in Nashville, Della Mae will tour in fall 2018 through their old stomping ground of the Northeast. The band is said to be writing material for a new album, perhaps drawing inspiration from the special guests joining them on this tour, including Alison Brown and Bonnie Paine (Elephant Revival). Their Philly show will feature former Della Mae guitarist Avril Smith. The Lehigh Valley’s Serene Green opens. Tickets $17.

November 2: Front Country at the Philadelphia Folksong Society

The Philadelphia Folksong Society opened its new venue on Ridge Ave. earlier this year, adding a much-needed listening room to the Philadelphia music scene. Those lucky enough to catch Front Country at the Osage Ave. House Concert Series way back in September 2014—before the band was touring internationally and performing at major festivals—know that this band thrives in an intimate setting. You’ll get another chance on November 2. Black Horse Motel opens. Advance tickets are $12 for members and $15 for non-members.

November 3: Jim Lauderdale at The Locks at Sona

Speaking of listening rooms, The Locks at Sona is the official successor to the famed Tin Angel, with the same folks behind the Tin Angel joining forces to open The Locks this fall. Jim Lauderdale has a great new record out (when doesn’t he?!) and should make a perfect headliner for the new space. Special guest Zephaniah OHora means this will be a seriously good night of music in Manayunk. Advance tickets $22-30.

November 10: Yonder Mountain String Band at Ardmore Music Hall

What more can be said about Yonder Mountain String Band that hasn’t been said already? They’ve been at it since 1998 and will still melt your face off with some of the best jamgrass this side of Nederland, Colorado. With special guests Brad Parsons & Starbird. Tickets are $27.50 (advance), $30 (door), or $45 (seated).

November 11: Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain & Edgar Meyer at Annenberg Center Live

Is it bluegrass? Almost certainly not. But who cares? Béla Fleck, Zakir Hussain, and Edgar Meyer, the masters of the banjo, tabla, and double bass unite at Annenberg Center Live and you won’t want to miss it. Tickets $29-$78.

November 14: The Travelin’ McCourys at Ardmore Music Hall

This spring, the Travelin’ McCourys dropped a brand new album that is technically their full-length debut, despite the band’s eight-year tenure. One of the standout tracks is a cover of the 2012 Passenger pop mega-hit “Let Her Go,” a reminder that the McCourys aren’t afraid to push boundaries and cross genres. That’s sure to be the case when they visit Ardmore Music Hall on November 14. Tickets are $18 (advance), $22 (door), or $30 (seated).

November 17: I’m With Her at Union Transfer

I’m With Her was never meant to be a band. It started as an impromptu 2014 collaboration in Telluride between Sarah Jarosz, Aoife O’Donovan, and Sara Watkins. (Yes, their name predates the well-known 2016 political slogan.) Now a bona fide super-group, I’m With Her released their first full-length album (“See You Around”) on Rounder Records in February, and will have plenty of original material to perform at Union Transfer on November 17. The silky-smooth brother harmonies of The Brother Brothers make for a perfect union on Spring Garden Street. Tickets $35.

November 21: The Dead South at The Trocadero Theatre

So many questions about this band. If they’re from Canada, why aren’t they called “The Dead North”? What caused the music video for their song “In Hell I’ll Be In Good Company” to go viral (75 million streams and counting)? What is their live show like? There’s only one way to find out. Tickets are general admission and $20.