Smoked Country Jam: Roots to Branches Bluegrass

In the heart of the PA Wilds

CROSS FORK – Quiet Oaks Campground is getting ready to host the 16th edition of Smoked Country Jam Bluegrass Festival. The campground, sitting in the heart of the Pennsylvania Wilds, is the perfect place for this annual gathering of music lovers.

From June 20-22, the festival will bring three days and nights of music and entertainment to Cross Fork, with several thousand music lovers expected to attend this much-anticipated yearly event.

As a “roots to branches” festival, Smoked Country Jam showcases the evolution of the bluegrass sound through the decades. Bands will play music that comes from every part of the bluegrass tree. 21 national and regional performers will provide entertainment from two stages, with more than 40 hours of bluegrass, new-grass, old-time, Americana and roots music scheduled.

Ron and Teresa Kodish began the festival in 2004, after Teresa was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus, an incurable autoimmune disease. Their mission was to raise awareness of the disease, and generate money for the Lupus Foundation of PA. The major fund raising event is a 3-day Lupus Auction, with over one hundred items that have been donated by businesses, performers and festival attendees. The auction is expected to generate about one thousand dollars to contribute to the Lupus Foundation of PA. All monies stay in the state, going toward research, patient services and education.

The major fundraising event for the Lupus Foundation of PA is a three-day Lupus auction, featuring hundreds of items donated by area merchants, individuals and performers. Since 2004, the auction has raised almost $24,000 for the foundation, with all contributions staying in the state for patient treatment and services, education and research.

In addition to the stage shows, there are supervised children’s activities and a schedule of performer-led workshops. The vendor midway is a colorful display of nearly 15 booths. Sandwiched between the Quiet Oaks and the PA Wilds Stages, vendors offer a large variety of food and drink, crafts and merchandise.

The Pennsylvania Heritage Songwriting Contest will award prizes for the top three songs submitted, and performed by the writers on the main stage. Proceeds from the event go to the Craig “Bubba” Bowman Scholarship Fund at Central Mountain High School. Bowman was a local bluegrass musician who died in an auto accident in 2005.

Festival attendees will be able to bring ATVs or golf carts to move around the 100-acre campground. Shaded seating is available under large tents in the concert area. Attendees must bring their own lawn chairs or blankets to be comfortable, and picnic baskets are encouraged. Pets can be taken to the stage area, to enjoy the music with their owners. Pet clean-up stations will be provided.

The festival grounds are handicapped accessible with parking reserved close to the stage area for those with special needs.

A unique and entertaining part of a bluegrass festival is the experience of the after hour’s “jamming” that typically follows the stage performances. Attendees are able to walk the grounds and listen to music played around the campfires until daylight.

A number of ticket options are offered to meet everyone’s schedules. Full festival and daily passes are available. There is a Friday/Saturday Combo ticket, for those who have to work Thursday. Tween-agers, ages 12 to 16, receive a discount, and children 11 and younger will be admitted free. Rough camping (no electric, sewer, or water hookups) is included with all full-festival tickets. Single-day attendees may also camp overnight, but must be off the festival grounds the next day, or purchase another day pass.To find out more about tickets, lodging, schedules, and other festival information, log on to www.smokedcountryjam.com or call (570) 660-0562.

For those who would like a little more comfort, Quiet Oaks Campground offers campsites with water, electric, and sewer hook-ups, and can be reserved by contacting the campground at (570) 923-2386.

Some of the notable performers at this year’s festival include:

FIRESIDE COLLECTIVE

Winners of the 2016 Merlefest Band Competition, Fireside Collective is quickly blazing a name for themselves as a must-see progressive acoustic ensemble. Formed in 2014, Fireside is a group of folk music enthusiasts who blend elements of traditional bluegrass and American roots music with modern acoustic arrangements. With an energetic live show, the band presents finely crafted original music infused with impeccable solos and tight harmonies. Captivating listeners with songs centered around change, relationships, and being on the road, they transition smoothly between danceable bluegrass numbers and passionate folk ballads. With mandolin, Dobro, and acoustic guitar layered eloquently on top of rock solid stand up bass, Fireside Collective delights in tastefully exploring the boundaries of roots music.

SONGS FROM THE ROAD BAND

Songs From The Road Band is a North Carolina powerhouse group featuring Mark Schimick, Charles Humphrey, Ryan Cavanaugh, Sam Wharton, and James Schlender. Collectively, they have received top accolades in the bluegrass, Americana, and jazz genres. They will be touring heavily in support of the fourth studio album, Road To Nowhere, during all of 2018! The Road Band delivers a high-energy show full of original material from their 4 studio albums, unmatched instrumental prowess, and creative covers!

MAN ABOUT A HORSE

Man About a Horse plays traditional bluegrass instruments, but not always traditional bluegrass. The Philadelphia-based group infuses their sound with rock and pop references, funk grooves, and blues roots. Their 2017 debut album earned spots on the Billboard and Bluegrass Today charts, and critical praise from Bluegrass Unlimited and others. They won the 2018 FreshGrass Band Award and were also nominated for an IBMA Band Momentum Award in 2018.

JAKOB’S FERRY STRAGGLERS

Hailing from the mountain towns of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Maryland, The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers draw freely from Old-Time, Bluegrass, Rockabilly, and Swing music to create their own brand of high energy, Appalachian Bluegrass. Gary Antol (Songwriter/Guitar/Vocals) and Libby Eddy (Fiddle/Vocals) formed JFS in 2014, with a very simple goal: write good songs, have fun, and take it to the road.

The band was an Official Showcase Artist at The International Bluegrass Music Association’s Bluegrass Ramble at World of Bluegrass in Raleigh, NC in 2018. The Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers have opened for The Steeldrivers, The Carolina Chocolate Drops, The Black Lillies, Town Mountain, David Davis and The Warrior River Boys, Larry Keel, Jeff Austin, The Felice Brothers, Mike Compton, and Frank Solivan and The Dirty Kitchen.

COLEBROOK ROAD

With a sound that combines traditional straight-drive bluegrass with modern tonalities, technical playing, tight vocal harmonies, and a unique voice based on large amounts of original composition, Colebrook Road brings interest and excitement to their music and their audience.

Take a listen to the sound of hard-driving original bluegrass and you’ll find a band that shares the same name comprised of members from vast musical backgrounds. The band started as a bunch of guys living in the Harrisburg, PA area connected by a love of acoustic music. Since then, the group has changed and expanded through many shows across the mid-Atlantic region, and is now a Mountain Fever Records recording artist.

THE HILLBILLY GYPSIES

The Hillbilly Gypsies have been making and performing their own brand of old time bluegrass and original mountain music for over a decade! This West Virginia native string band specializes in playing a homegrown style of Appalachian old time music, mixed with a hard driving bluegrass sound. They play an eclectic mix of traditional and not-so-traditional bluegrass standards and catchy old fiddle tunes. They perform in the old fashioned style, playing around a single vintage ribbon microphone. This “Old Timey” approach adds an authentic high-energy barn party atmosphere to their show.

MAMA CORN

Mama Corn is central Pennsylvania’s premier bluegrass band. Since 2006 this down home quartet has helped define the sound and resurgence of the Pennsylvania bluegrass scene. Their music is homegrown in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains of southwestern, PA. It is a blend of high energy, good timin’, pistol packin’ bluegrass that is renowned for its unique, down home, fun loving sound. This band has quickly grown from the seeds of old time, acoustic, mountain jam sessions, to the forefront of Pennsylvania’s bluegrass scene. The band’s reputation has grown over the years, and they are now one of the most sought after bands in the Mid-Atlantic festival scene.

SERENE GREEN

Serene Green is the collective musical vision of Pennsylvania musicians Quentin Fisher, Michael Johnson, Shane McGeehan, and Steve Leonard. This band’s passion for playing bluegrass comes from a position of respect and gratitude for the pioneers of this great American art form, yet, Serene Green performances are anything but an imitation. The members of Serene Green share a common goal to influence the legacy of bluegrass music with original songwriting and compositions. Since early 2017, Serene Green has toured in over twelve states throughout the Northeast, Mid-west, and Southeast regions of the United States of America. The quartet released its first, all-original studio album, “To Whom It Pertains”, in June 2017.

COMMENTS