del on the hill

the del mccoury band

the del mccoury band. from left: jason carter, rob mccoury, ronnie mccoury, del mccoury, alan bartram. photo by brenda mcclearan.

The first official weekend of the fall is here along with the return of the Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival, the annual outdoor celebration of groove and grass music in Harrodsburg.

As usual, the festival schedule mixes in several noted national acts (Greensky Bluegrass from Kalamazoo, Mi. and Cornmeal from Chicago) with a predominantly local and regional lineup of bands (Born Cross Eyed, Green Genes, The Other Brothers and more) that will perform on three stages.

Friday’s headliner will be the great Del McCoury Band. As stated in the title of a new five-disc anthology, Celebrating 50 Years, McCoury’s career as one of bluegrass music’s most progressively minded traditionalists has now passed the half-century mark. While he clocked time with Bill Monroe in 1963, McCoury’s current popularity centers around the band he has led over the past two decades with his sons (mandolinist Ronnie and banjoist Rob). While the band bears his name, it is the unmistakable high mountain tenor vocals that serves as McCoury’s foremost artistic trademark along with a repertoire that has regularly boasted string music reworkings of tunes by such non-bluegrass greats as Tom Petty, Richard Thompson and Robert Cray.

This is a big birthday year for McCoury. His career turned 50, the singer himself turned 70 and last May McCoury performed at Madison Square Garden as part of an all-star concert honoring folk icon Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday.

But next month, the next chapter begins. A new McCoury Band album titled Family Circle is due out on Oct. 27.

Saturday’s headliner at Terrapin Hill will be a very different all-star team. The band, called Super Heroes, brings together bassist George Porter, Jr. and guitarist Leo Nocentelli of the acclaimed New Orleans funk brigade The Meters, keyboardist Bernie Worrell (whose extensive career includes work with Parliament/Funkadelic in the ‘70s and Talking Heads in the ‘80s) and former John Scofield Band drummer Adam Deitch. For a complete performance schedule along with other camping and festival information, go to

The Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival runs Thursday through Sunday at Terrapin Hill Farm, 3696 Mackville Harrodsburg. Tickets are $45 and $85 (adult); $20 and $35 (children ages 8 to15). Call (859) 734-7207.

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