Arts and Entertainment

Meerkerk hosts bluegrass music

The band “Down the Road” will perform traditional bluegrass music, with a focus on duet and trio harmony singing, at the Old Time Bluegrass Pickers Festival Sept. 13.  -
The band “Down the Road” will perform traditional bluegrass music, with a focus on duet and trio harmony singing, at the Old Time Bluegrass Pickers Festival Sept. 13.
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Acoustic bluegrass will fill the air Saturday, Sept. 13, in the verdant setting of Meerkerk Gardens on Whidbey Island.

The day-long Whidbey Island Old Time Bluegrass Pickers Festival begins with an open mic for regional musicians to perform on the outdoor bandstand. Signups begin at 10 a.m.

The afternoon concerts begin at noon featuring Chickweed, Down the Road, Swords into Plowshares, The Rural Characters and Deadwood Revival.

Cost is $10 per person. Tickets are available at the main gate.

Children under 16 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.

Attendees are welcome to bring a picnic basket and lawn chairs, but don’t bring the dog. Light refreshments will be available.

The afternoon concert begins with the high energy and engaging music from Portland’s “Chickweed.” Experience their fast, raw vocals, strong chops, steady bass line and melodic guitar featuring raucous original tunes, solid bluegrass and traditional roots featuring Abby Downs on guitar and vocals, Finn Fox on her lightning fast mandolin and Holly Wyman with a rock-solid bass line that helps keep it all together.

“Down the Road” is a trio of veteran bluegrass and American roots musicians from the greater Snoqualmie Valley area that includes husband/wife team Cathi and Gary Davidson on guitars and vocals and John Tubbs on mandolin and vocals. The band’s music spans the range from early country music of The Carter Family through contemporary bluegrass, with a focus on duet and trio harmony singing and clean, tasteful instrumental work, all performed in a relaxed, straightforward style.

“Swords into Plowshares,” from Whidbey Island, performs an eclectic mix of acoustic string band music from swing, old timey, bluegrass and ragtime traditions, featuring guitar, mandolin, dobro, string bass and vocals, creating an up tempo, toe tappin’, rollicking good-time presentation. The group showcases the finger-style and flatpick guitar and mandolin pickin’ of Keith Allen Bowers, the harmony singing of bassist Kristi O’Donnell, lead vocals and rhythm guitar of David Schaal and bluesy guitar and resonator slide playing of Ed Newkirk.

From South Whidbey, “The Rural Characters,” say they’re “pretty good at laughing and eating, and like singing, but have not as yet settled on a genre.” The range of instruments is impressive: guitars, mandolin, mouth harps, wash tub bass, banjo, percussion assists except for drums, autoharp, hammer dulcimer, concertina, foot bass, ukuleles of all sorts, a small chicken that does a rhythm chirp, and a lap steel that should be ready for performance at least before the Dreamliner is ready to fly.

“Deadwood Revival’s” Kim Trenerry, Jason Mogi, and Ches Ferguson join together to make some of the most unassuming, honest “feel good” music filled with the spirit of old-time Appalachia, soulful American roots and a hint of jam-band improvisation. “You can tell from the first note that they are crowd-pleasers. They’re fun, adventurous and yet true to their roots,” said the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange.

For more information visit or call 678-1912.

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