The latter, says founder/director Candi Sawyer, is a circumstance born of necessity. The venue change required the four-day festival to begin a week earlier than usual. Many performers who’d played Jenny Brook in years past were already committed to another regional event.
“I didn’t have a lot of local bands to choose from, so we just had to jump up to the next level,” says Sawyer.
So while a lot of the performers are new to Sawyer’s festival (which begins with a Wednesday night barn dance and continues through Sunday), they are well known in the bluegrass circuit, says Sawyer.
Relocating the festival’s home since its start nine years ago was simpler, says Sawyer. “We had to move out of Weston we ran out of room. We had to relocate or cancel.”
“It’s too good a festival to let go.”
Sawyer is particularly looking forward to the Next Best Thing, a new band from Nashville featuring Rhonda Vincent’s daughters Sally and Tensel Sandker.
“They are hot out of the box,” says Sawyer, “I think that’s gonna turn some heads. I’m kind of excited because in years to come I can say I got them when they were brand new.”
The Katahdin Valley Boys from Maine and the Boston-based Reunion Band will perform at Jenny Brook for the first time this year. Breakin’ Strings, a six-member group from Maine, appeared in a festival showcase last year and finished second to a preteen fiddler.
“I really think they should have come in first,” says Sawyer. “They had the whole thing, the emcee work, they were dressed well – the whole package.”
So Breakin’ Strings was asked to perform Friday, Saturday and Sunday. “I like to give credit where credit’s due,” explains Candi.
Sawyer was able to book a few bands from past festivals, including the Pine Hill Ramblers, Bear Tracks, Plexigrass and perennial headliners the Gibson Brothers. Though she didn’t ask for the changes, Candi is optimistic.
“I think it happened for a reason, and we’re going to have a bigger variety this year.”
The new location allows for more activities like Wednesday’s barn dance. Though dismantling the stage in Weston was bittersweet, the move to Tunbridge was, she says, elating:
“There’s a photo essay on our web site, and if you look at the pictures of us pulling in, you can almost feel the excitement. It’s a very good feeling. It’s a beautiful facility.”
“Weston’s really kind of a stuck up town in a way. They really don’t like the music; the locals are not supportive at all. Moving to Tunbridge, different people are coming down telling me how excited they are that we’re coming to the area, and thanking us for the business. We never got that in Weston.”
“It’s a good feeling,” she says. “It feels like we’re wanted.”
Jenny Brook Bluegrass Festival
June 18, 19, 20 & 21
The Gibson Brothers (Saturday)
Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper (Friday)
Leroy Troy & Tennessee Mafia Jug Band (Thursday, Friday, Saturday)
Audie Blaylock & Redline (Sunday)
Karl Shiflett & Big Country (Saturday)
The Next Best Thing (Saturday)
Bear Tracks (Saturday)
Reunion Band (Friday)
Smokey Greene (Thursday)
Katahdin Valley Boys (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Plexigrass (Friday, Saturday)
Breakin’ Strings (Friday, Saturday, Sunday)
Pine Hill Ramblers (Thursday, Sunday)
Brenda Mathews & Friends (Thursday, Friday)
Bear Minimum (Sunday)
Hosted by the Seth Sawyer Band and the Sawyer Brothers, who perform throughout the festival.
4-day – $85.00
Thursday – $20.00
Friday – $30.00 ($20.00 after 6 PM)
Saturday – $30.00 ($20.00 after 6 PM)
Sunday – $20.00
Children 16 & under free, 17 & 18 half-price (must be accompanied by adult)
Call 802-463-1184 for more information