Del McCoury and company hosted their 8th annual DelFest last weekend, bringing the best and brightest in the folk/bluegrass world out to a beautiful site in Cumberland, MD. There were no ‘Cumberland Blues’ here, just great people and fantastic music.

It all started on Thursday May 21st, when Greensky Bluegrass kicked off their first set with a version of “Eyes of the World.” The cover, which was supposed to be played at Dear Jerry, absolutely melted the crowd. The weekend turned from rain to sunshine and the bluegrass kept coming.

Friday day sets from The Larry Keel Experience and Sierra Hull set the tone for a beautiful day of music, and Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers kept things going with an energetic mid-day set.

The headliners of the night were Railroad Earth and Old Crow Medicine Show on the main stage, with Greensky Bluegrass and Steep Canyon Rangers playing late night. There was no shortage of great music from these bands, keeping the festivites going until the wee hours of the morning.

Saturday packed another day full of great artists and amazing music. Del & Dawg was one of the most talked about sets all weekend, and the two delivered a set to a reverent crowd.

Later on, the much anticipated Jeff Austin Band brought so much energy to the main stage. However, The Travelinʼ McCourys closed the main stage with a visually phenomenal ocean adventure that complimented their music swimmingly. A sold out Saturday late night for Dead Winter Carpenters and Leftover Salmon brought out an enthusiastic crowd that got down hard for some Salmon.

Sunday was another sunny bluegrass weather day that had the crowd out in force for bands like Hot Rize and Lake Street Drive. As the day went on, Dead Winter Carpenters took to the Potomac Stage, where they were joined by special guests from The Jeff Austin Band and Cabinet. When the Cabinet members came out, there was a cloud of dust that rose from the front of the stage from all the people getting down!

The Del McCoury Band had two great sets over the weekend, and with Del popping in on other groups throughout the weekend, there was no way you could miss the legend performing live. Jeff Austin Band played a more mellow late night set on Sunday and the Travelinʼ McCourys closed the weekend out with another amazing set.

This weekend of music really did have something for everyone. It was hard to fit in all of the wonderful music and activities that DelFest has to offer. From floating down the Potomac, to checking out lovingly crafted model trains at the Maryland & West Virginia Model Railroad Association, and sitting in on a mandolin workshop with David Grisman, Ronnie McCoury and Sierra Hull, or face-painting and puppet building over at the Kids Zone, there is something for everyone. 

DelFest brings together so many different people from all over the country, and all different ages as well. It’s a great family friendly fest with quality vendors and some of the best bluegrass out there. It isnʼt hard to see why people keep coming back to the Allegany Mountains to be with their “Del-Family” year after year.

Photos by Charles Crawford, Words by Roberta Beekman