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Bluegrass and Old-Time Mountain Music at Brunswick Music Fest

Bluegrass and Old-Time Mountain Music at Brunswick Music Fest

On Saturday, June 19th the Brunswick Music Fest will open it gates at 11am for a day of blues, bluegrass and old-time mountain music. Chocolate Thunder, a not-to-be-missed blues artist from South Carolina, will make her first appearance in this region of the US. She'll be performing along with The Kelly Bell Band, which has been named Best Blues Band in the Mid-Atlantic Region for eleven years in a row, the multi award-winning Martin Family Band, which will bring old-time mountain music to the stage, and bluegrass groups Blue Moon Rising, whose music repeatedly hits the bluegrass charts, and Hardline Drive.
Blue Moon Rising brings the sounds of East Tennessee to their live performances and chart-topping albums. A national touring band, Blue Moon Rising is comprised of Chris West on lead vocals and guitar, Tony Mowell on bass and vocals, Brandon Bostic on mandolin, guitar and vocals and Owen Piatt on banjo. This year the band will celebrate the release of their fifth album.
The group garnered international recognition with the release of their third album, On the Rise. The name of the album proved to be a symbolic title for the group, because in 2005 the album debuted at #14 on the BILLBOARD Top 50 Bluegrass Chart. On the Rise received tremendous recognition. Along with numerous other honors, it made's Top 10 Bluegrass Albums, Gritz Magazine's Top Overall Albums of 2005 and spent ten months on Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine's Bluegrass National Survey Top 15 Album Chart.
The single, This Old Martin Box, spent the entire 2006 calendar year in the Top 30 Singles. And, IBMA members honored the group with a nomination for Emerging Artist of the Year with bandleader Chris West performing in the Songwriter's Showcase.
Blue Moon Rising is lead by multi-talented guitarist and acclaimed songwriter, Chris West, who writes many of the band's songs. His original tunes have become the signature sound of the band. Simply put, this band has it all. They play well, sing well, and write well. To learn more and listen to a few tunes, visit
It's not very often that two women front a bluegrass band, but the high-powered harmonies and lead vocals of Toni Erskine and Danielle Smith are the core and essence of Hardline Drive.
Michigan's Hardline Drive came together in 2006. Each member has years of experience in traditional and contemporary bluegrass, but solid timing and tight harmonies on producing original material highlight their focus.
Toni Erskine, a fiddler and gifted songwriter, sings powerful lead vocals with a bluesy feel. Danielle Smith, who started singing at the age of four and playing mandolin at the age of eight, sings, plays mandolin, up-right bass, fiddle and saxophone. Greg Fuson, who grew up in a family of bluegrass musicians, sings harmony, plays a mean dobro and is a phenomenal guitarist. Wes Pettinger gets the band really cookin' with his banjo, guitar and harmony vocals. And, special guest, Izzy Daniels, adds his touch on upright bass.
In 2008 Hardline Drive released its first CD, Gonna Be Alright. "Hardline Drive is the complete package," says Bill Keith of Trinity House Theatre, "great songs, inspired musicians and wonderful singers. One of Michigan's best kept secrets will soon be the Bluegrass world's favorite new band." To learn more about Hardline Drive, visit
The Martin family used to play music together at home just for fun. But, it wasn't long before they were performing throughout the region as The Martin Family Band. This talented group performs a rich and unique blend of Irish, 18th century Colonial and old-time mountain music and has been the informal "house band" at Mt. Vernon for 15 years.
Locally, they have performed at events such as the Sheep and Wool Festival and the Washington Folk Festival. Internationally they have performed in Ireland, Scotland and Germany. Their unique mix of instruments includes hammered dulcimer, mandolin, fiddle, banjo, guitar, button accordion, piano, lap dulcimer, recorder and tin whistle.
Carl, the father, plays mandolin and tenor banjo and is also a member of the Common Ground Ceili Band. He has traveled extensively playing music in Ireland, Scotland and Germany as part of the Cimbalom World Association. Jeanean, the mother, plays hammered dulcimer and guitar. She sings and has been performing and teaching music for 20 years. She is also a talented visual artist who teaches and exhibits in the Washington, DC area. Both Jeanean and Carl are fine musicians who have encouraged their family and others to play music.
Children Lydia, Emily and Claude have all followed in their parent's footsteps. Lydia plays piano, 5-string banjo, recorder, guitar, button accordion and sings. At the age of 17 she had the distinction of performing for President Clinton at the White house. She received a scholarship from the Levine School of Music in Washington, DC where she studied classical piano, and she studied 5-string banjo with banjo master Dwight Diller.
Lydia is the recipient of many awards including 1st Place in the Old-time Banjo and band competition at the Deer Creek Fiddler's Convention, Westminster MD and was recently featured on the banjo staff at the Folk Alliance in Memphis, TN.
Emily plays tenor banjo, mandolin, lap dulcimer and tin whistle. She is a natural musician, mostly self-taught, who learns her music by ear in the true folk tradition. She has the distinction of winning two consecutive 1st place medals at the Mid-Atlantic Irish Music Competition. She also received 1st place in mandolin at the Deer Creek Fiddler's Convention. Emily heartily pursues her interest in old-time music, playing and singing mountain ballads with sister Lydia. And together, they are studying Appalachian ballad singing with Ginny Hawker.
Claude began playing fiddle at the age of seven. An award-winning fiddler, he took 1st place at the Deer Creek Fiddler's Convention and the Speedy Tolliver Fiddle Contest and 2nd place at the George Mason Traditional Fiddle contest. Claude performs with his family and also with his own band Fauntel. He sings and plays his own compositions, as well as contemporary arrangements of traditional music.
An exciting new addition to the band is Josh Henderson who brings it all together with his steady bass rhythms. At the Deer Creek Fiddler's Convention he took 1st place in the bass competition. To learn more about the musical adventures of the Martin Family band, visit
The Brunswick Music Fest will take place in downtown Brunswick, Maryland at Railroad Square, South Maple Street. As festivalgoers arrive The Polka Dots, a young trio from Loudoun County, who will be performing near the entrance, will greet them. On stage at noon the Martin Family Band will kick off the day. They'll be followed by Hardline Drive at 1:15pm, Chocolate Thunder at 2:45pm, Blue Moon Rising at 4:30pm and the Kelly Bell Band at 6:15pm.
Tickets are $15 for adults in advance, $20 for adults at the gate, $10 for students and seniors and FREE for children ages 5 and under. Advance tickets may be purchased by calling 240-347-8760 or via the festival's website at
Festivalgoers are encouraged to bring lawn chairs. The festival will also feature food and merchandise vendors, as well as a beer garden. No pets, coolers or outside alcohol will be allowed. Brunswick Music Fest is a Brunswick Main Street Event supported by the City of Brunswick and the Frederick County Tourism Council. For more information, contact the Brunswick Music Fest at 240-347-8760 or

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