Upcoming DCBU Events

The greater Washington, D.C. area is home to some of the finest musicians and bands in bluegrass and old-time music. The region has been a hotbed of talent and creativity for more than sixty years and has birthed such major acts as the Stonemans, Reno and Smiley, Emmy Lou Harris, Hazel Dickens, Ola Belle Reed, Mike Seeger, the Country Gentlemen, the Johnson Mountain Boys, the Seldom Scene and many others. Mindful of that tradition, the DCBU joins with Common Ground on the Hill to present a week of instrumental, band, and vocal classes taught by some of Washington’s best performers and teachers-plus some very special additions. We welcome beginning to advanced players of all ages to an unparalleled week of learning, jamming, singing, concerts and bluegrass/oldtime camaraderie.

The DCBU Bluegrass & Old-Time Camp boasts a top flight teaching staff who offer five separate class periods of instruction every day, Monday – Friday, June 26-June 30. The bluegrass, old-time, and Celtic curriculum reflects the reality that the musical styles are historically and currently interrelated in a profound way, and offers campers the rare opportunity to learn from all idioms.

Bluegrass Staff – Frank Solivan (mandolin), Mike Munford (banjo), Chris Luquette (guitar), Jeremy Middleton (bass), Dede Wyland (vocals), David Morris (songwriting), Randy Barrett (banjo, vocals, camp coordinator)

Old-Time Staff – Joe Herrmann (fiddle), Sally Rogers (mountain dulcimer), Howie Bursen (banjo), Lydia Martin (banjo), Slim Harrison (jugband and folk dance), Matthew Olwell (percussive dance), Emily Oleson (percussive dance)

Celtic Staff – The Jeremiahs (Ireland – guitar, singing, fiddle, flute, tin whistle), Frank McGuire (Scotland – bodhran), Jo Morrison (Celtic harp), Wayne Morrison (bagpipe)

Full-time enrollment entitles you to participate not just in Music Camp, but in all courses, activities, and evening events held as part of Common Ground’s Traditions Week I; students may also register as part-time for individual classes. Parents, bring your kids and enroll them in World Village while you play music! Create your own schedule including art, music, dance, and lecture classes. All classes are held on the grounds of McDaniel College in Westminster, MD; residential accomodations are available on campus or at nearby hotels.

Visit http://www.commongroundonthehill.org/dcbu.html to register online.

The DC Bluegrass Festival will return to the Sheraton Tysons Hotel March 9th and 10th, 2018! Watch dcbluegrassfest.org for news about next year.

Past DCBU Events

A big THANK YOU to all to the fans who came out, all the bands for putting on such great shows, Troy Jones for his great sound work, all the kind folks at the Sheraton Tysons Hotel, all the MCs and competition judges, all the sponsors and vendors, and most of all, the hard-working volunteers who gave their time and effort to making the 2017 DC Bluegrass Festival possible! Visit the DCBU Facebook page for pics and videos from the 2017 festival.

Hazel Dickens and Alice GerrardCongratulations to the winners of the 2017 Hazel Dickens Song Contest! Hear the winning songs at http://dcbu.org/hazel-dickens-song-contest/.

The winners are:
1st: “All the Old Men Are Gone” – Pam Gadd, Joelton, TN
2nd: “Friend and a Friend” – Korby Lenker and Molly Tuttle, Nashville, TN
3rd: “Looking for Sunshine” – Gina Clowes, Winchester, VA

Honorable Mentions
“Jesus, Drive the Train” – Carley Arrowood, Union Mills, NC, and Becky Buller, Manchester, TN
“Ain’t No Good Goodbye” – Louisa Branscomb, White, GA, and Teresa Neal, Austin, TX
“Carolina” – Bruce Jepson, Warren, NJ

1st place winner Pam Gadd performed “All the Old Men are Gone” at the DC Bluegrass Festival on March 11, 2017, in Tysons Corner, VA.

Latest News

Washington, D.C. – January 26, 2017 — WAMU 88-5 and the Bluegrass Country Foundation are pleased to announce that they have reached an agreement to continue operation of Bluegrass Country on 105-5FM, WAMU 88-5 HD 2 and streaming at bluegrasscountry.org.

Starting February 6, 2017, the Bluegrass Country Foundation will take over the responsibility for the operation and funding of the service. Listeners can expect the same mix of bluegrass, Americana, and roots music from their favorite hosts as well as new offerings in the near future. Under the agreement, the foundation will broadcast under WAMU’s FCC license.

“We all had the same desire which was to have the WAMU Bluegrass legacy continue,” said WAMU General Manager JJ Yore. “With a mutual goal in mind, we worked quickly and collaboratively so there would be no loss of service for our bluegrass community.”

Bluegrass debuted on WAMU in 1967 offering the community a nearly 50-year tradition of this uniquely American art form. But during the last 20 years, the demographics of WAMU’s listeners changed and WAMU management made the decision to focus the station’s financial resources and creative energy on news and information.

A search was conducted to find an organization that had the means to support the service and we are pleased to announce that the Bluegrass Country Foundation will take over the service on Monday, February 6th. The Foundation was established to seek financing to continue bluegrass, Americana and roots music in the tradition of WAMU’s Bluegrass Country.

Listeners will continue to enjoy programming from Gary Henderson who will host “Stained Glass Bluegrass”, Dick Spottswood, Lee Michael Demsey, Al Steiner, Lisa K. Howard and others. The new service will welcome back familiar past hosts and shows like Chris Teskey and e-Town while bidding farewell to Katy Daley, Rosemarie Nielsen, Jay Bruder and Bill Foster who plan to support bluegrass in other ways. With a few exceptions, the nearly 50 years of bluegrass programming heard on WAMU will be available for their use.

“We are proud to become the stewards of such an important resource and we look forward to bringing bluegrass and related roots music to a new generation of listeners,” said Jeff Ludin, president of the nonprofit Bluegrass Country Foundation. “We thank WAMU management for its support and creative thinking to help us achieve what few thought was possible.”

WAMU 88.5 is licensed to American University and began broadcasting in 1961. It is the leading public radio station for NPR news and information in the greater Washington, D.C., area. In addition to its flagship frequency, WAMU 88.5 operates WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, 88.3 Ocean City, 89.5 Fredericksburg, and the digital platforms Bandwidth.fm and wamu.org.

For more information, see coverage of the transfer by Bluegrass Today and the Washington Post. The extent of donor support to the Foundation has been a great reflection on the DC Bluegrass community which DCBU is proud to serve. Please remember to continue your support for the station’s operation in 2017 and in the years ahead. Information on how to help Bluegrass Country as a volunteer will be available soon.

January 19, 2017 – The International Bluegrass Music Association (IBMA) has announced the roll of its 2017 Leadership Bluegrass class. Congratulations to this year’s DC-area class members, mandolinist Akira Otsuka of Bluegrass 45 fame and John Smith, co-founder of Takoma Park-based record label Free Dirt Records & Service Co.!

For more information and a complete list of 2017 attendees, please read https://ibma.org/press/archives/ibma-announces-selection-2017-leadership-bluegrass-class.

Bill FosterBluegrassers may know Bill Foster as a guitarist and mandolin player, as a radio DJ, as an open mic host, as a writer for the Bluegrass Unlimited magazine, and as an active member of the IBMA. For many years, Bill has also been the man behind the scenes at DCBU.org.

Bill’s tireless efforts as DCBU webmaster have helped musicians and fans find each other, supported local venues, introduced players to teachers and jam sessions, and connected the bluegrass community in the DC area and throughout the Mid-Atlantic region. Without his expertise and constant hard work, DCBU.org would not exist, the DC Bluegrass Union and the DC Bluegrass Festival would not be what they are today, and the current upgrade of the DCBU.org website would not have been possible.

As Bill moves on to new endeavors, the Board of the DC Bluegrass Union extends him its deepest thanks and gratitude for everything he has done for DC bluegrass. Bill’s fans can find him hosting Foster’s Corner on WAMU’s Bluegrass Country, playing live in the Strasburg, VA area, and on his home website at www.swfostermusic.com/.

Thank you, Bill.

What is the DC Bluegrass Union?

The DC Bluegrass Union is an all-volunteer, 501(c)3 non-profit organization serving Washington, DC and surrounding areas in much of Virginia, West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Delaware. It is an area historically rich in bluegrass music’s development, and we strive to help inform, educate, connect and broaden its very active community of performers, fans, venues and promoters. Resources for all of them are found on this website. Our other activities include open jams, performances, and our annual DC Bluegrass Festival. Learn more on this website, on Facebook, and on Twitter — and welcome!