Bluegrass Hall of Famer Del McCoury is bringing his annual DelFest back for a 10th time. Organizers announced the initial lineup for the event, which returns to Allegany County Fairgrounds in Cumberland, Md., May 25-28. In addition to the Del McCoury Band and the Travelin’ McCourys, the festival welcomes Trey Anastasio Band, Gov’t Mule, Bela Fleck & Chris Thile, Leftover Salmon, Hot Rize, The Infamous Stringdusters, Steep Canyon Rangers and Marty Stuart & His Fabulous Superlatives. The lineup as it’s been revealed so far can be found at the DelFest website.
Four-day passes are on sale now starting at $190.50 plus fee, while discounted passes for teens and children 12 and under are also available. VIP packages (branded “DELuxe,” of course) start at $565, and a maximum of 20 students are eligible for DelFest Academy, a four-day hands-on instruction retreat for students of all levels, led by top bluegrass musicians, the Sunday through Wednesday leading up to the festival. Guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin and bass are all taught during the sessions, with special one-offs like Bluegrass Karaoke, where students perform songs backed by their instructors, and Band Scramble, which pulls students into impromptu bands for a chance to play onstage during soundcheck on May 25.
McCoury, 77, got his start in Bill Monroe’s Blue Grass Boys as a singer and guitar player but quickly branched out on his own, releasing his debut album, Del McCoury Sings Bluegrass, in 1968. He toured first as Del McCoury & the Dixie Pals, then as the Del McCoury Band, which came to include his sons Ronnie and Rob on mandolin and banjo, respectively. Ronnie and Rob started the spinoff group The Travelin’ McCourys — essentially the Del McCoury Band without Del — and have developed a musical identity apart from their famous father.
“We like to go in and play traditional bluegrass music the way we do with Dad, but we also like to be able to step into situations where we can really stretch out,” Ronnie told The (Bloomington, Ill.) Pantagraph in February. The Travelin’ McCourys formed when the elder McCoury began contemplating his mortality after he turned 72, the age at which his father passed away. “He started thinking about things and he thought maybe it would be a good time for us to get out of the nest and try to have our own band.”
Today, DelFest maintains the spirit of the original festival, which offered a similar mix of bluegrass, country and jam-band acts. Among the artists to play the first DelFest in 2008 were Vince Gill, Dierks Bentley (who appears this year as a special guest with The Travelin’ McCourys), Keller Williams, David Grisman, Sam Bush and David Bromberg.