Bluegrass in the Country promises another year of great entertainment

PROVIDENCE BAY—It’s the bluegrass event fans have been waiting patiently for—Bluegrass in the Country, the annual toe-tapping good time for a great cause. The show stage will be built at the Providence Bay fairgrounds in time for the show on June 6 to 8 where acts from across the province will perform.

‘Brother John’ Featherstone, the organizer of the event, is pleased to announce a new slate of great entertainment for the busy weekend including headliners Hard Ryde—Canada’s premier bluegrass band. This not-to-be-missed group has received five Central Canadian Bluegrass Awards in each of the following categories: Overall Group of the Year, Instrumental Group of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, Vocal Group of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, and Guitar Player of the Year, Fiddle Player of the Year, Banjo Player of the Year, Bass Player of the Year, Mandolin Player of the Year and Composer of the Year. Hard Ryde will take to the stage at 8:30 pm on Friday, June 6, closing the first night of the event but can be seen again at 8 pm the following night.

The Friday entertainment begins at 6:30 pm with Alderville’s Sweetgrass, another Central Canadian Bluegrass Awards winner, followed by Manitoulin’s own favourite: Rick Piche and the Hawberry Boys. ‘Don’t they play oldies, not bluegrass?’ one might ask, but Mr. Featherstone says that once you hear them play, the music will do all the explaining as to their welcome presence in the lineup.

Saturday’s bluegrass begins with The Algoma Wildflowers of Elliot Lake at 1 pm—an all-female bluegrass band formed in 2010. “Their instrumentation coupled with strong vocals, harmonies and relaxed, friendly stage presence make for a very energetic and entertaining show,” the Bluegrass in the Country website states.

At 2 pm Saturday, Sweetgrass will again delight audiences followed by the Allen Family Reunion, back by popular demand.

[pullquote]“This family band is sure to leave you with a smile and a sweet sound in your ear,” Mr. Featherstone promises.[/pullquote]

“This family band is sure to leave you with a smile and a sweet sound in your ear,” Mr. Featherstone promises.

At 4 pm, Rescue Junction hits the Providence Bay stage. Rescue Junction was originally a brother/sister bluegrass duo from Millbank, specializing in gospel bluegrass, Mr. Featherstone explains.

“Rescue Junction released their debut self-titled album in September 2011 and followed it up with their sophomore recording, ‘On Any Road,’ both of which have been well received in the Bluegrass and Gospel communities, most notably with ‘On Any Road’ recently being nominated for ‘Recording of the Year’ at the Central Canada Bluegrass Awards,” Mr. Featherstone explains.

Also back by popular demand is Manitowaning’s Robbie Shawana and his band taking to the stage at 6 pm.

“Their country style was a great addition to the show last year,” Mr. Featherstone says. “The committee has had many requests to bring them back. You will enjoy their unique entertainment experience.”

The Canucky Bluegrass Boys, a hard-driving bluegrass band delivering a high-energy traditional sound, promises to deliver at 7 pm. The Canucky Bluegrass Boys started out as three friends, Lee, Matt and Dave, just having fun jamming at bluegrass festivals, the website states. Over a few short years people started to identify them by their unique style, harmonies and enthusiasm. Having met by fate, each individual had something different to contribute to the band. With their newest member R.J. Nelson on the five-string banjo, and Don Reed on the fiddle, this band is now on top of their game. They have a drive and willingness to get their style of bluegrass music out to music lovers everywhere. They are definitely ready to take the step, put it in drive and bring it forward. “This is a band you will want to hear again and again!” Mr. Featherstone assures.

Headliners Hard Ryde will round out the day at 8 pm.

On Sunday, June 8 lovers of bluegrass will be treated to The Allen Family Reunion at 10 am followed by Rescue Junction at 11 am—a great way to send festival goers on their way.

As usual, some ‘rough’ camping will be available on-site for $25, which is good for the whole weekend, with limited sites that include hydro available for $45. The campsites, located at the Providence Bay fairgrounds, will be available from Thursday, June 5 at noon.

Mr. Featherstone reminds Islanders that Bluegrass in the Country is the main fundraiser for the Manitoulin Special Olympics (MSO). “The money goes to all 65 athletes, which pays for busing, equipment, etcetera,” Mr. Featherstone said. “This raises 90 percent of the money for Manitoulin Special Olympics for the entire year,” he adds, noting that MSO has a strong track record of moulding world class athletes, including the five athletes that will leave in early July for Vancouver to try out for the Team Canada track and field team.

“Groups line up to come because they hear it’s such a good time and for a good cause,” Mr. Featherstone says, explaining that each year he makes it his mission to greet all the campers personally, acting as an ambassador “for down home Manitoulin hospitality.”

Advanced tickets can be purchased for $40 for adults and $20 for youth ages 10 to 16. Children under 10, if accompanied by an adult, are free. Tickets can be purchased in advance at 100.7 The Island in Little Current, Manitowaning Mill Home Building Centre, Seasons Family Restaurant in M’Chigeeng, The Source in Gore Bay and D.A. Williamson and Sons in Mindemoya.

New this year, passes can be purchased at the gate for Friday or Saturday night only at a cost of $25.