Making Tribute

I am truly honored to be a part of the John Hartford Memorial Festival this weekend at the legendary Bill Monroe Music Park and Campground, Bean Blossom, Indiana.

Anyone who has seen a few Wilders shows knows how much John Hartford’s music means to me. Pretty much every time I play, I ask the audience how many are Hartford fans. These days, it depends on the audience – sometimes not many answer with a cheer. Of course, that’s a bit sad, since that means there are a lot of people who haven’t had the pleasure of taking in some of that gentle voice, sweet fiddling, and smooth banjo picking. I hope some people go home after I mention JH and look him up online… happily, there is a wealth of live footage, recordings, and of course commercially available albums. Thankfully, John Hartford left us with an incredible amount of music. Every time I play on stage, I think about him and make a little private tribute when I try to make this note that much sweeter, or throw in a little longbow variation to a tune segment. I’ll be learning his songs and the way he played great old tunes for the rest of my life.

This weekend, I get to play three solo sets (probably not all solo – the spirit of collaboration is a big key to making tribute to this man) – also, look for me joining some friends on a set or two. With so many amazing bands and artists to watch at this festival, I don’t know how I will manage to rock some jam sessions too, but I am determined somehow to make that happen!

John Hartford Memorial Festival, May 31-June 2, 2012

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