Friday, August 14, 2009

Council Mountain Music Festival

About 12 miles down the road from Indian Valley you come to the “big town” of Council—the Adams County seat & home to almost 900 residents. Most of the time, Council is a pretty quiet village, as you’d expect, but there are occasional exceptions to this—the 4th of July, for certain, the Christmas parade in early December, & also the third weekend in August—the date of our annual music festival.

The Council Music Festival began in 2002 & has bee
n held each August since. A number of local volunteers have done lots of work over the years to make this happen, but no one has done more than Dale Fisk, who long-time Robert Frost’s Banjo readers will remember from the Musical Questions series (check out his interview here). Dale has been the organizer, the booker, the stage-builder, the publicist—you name it, he’s done it. Of course, I’m happy to say that Dale also is a musician at the festival, so we get to hear him play, too! Speaking of stage building—Dale & others constructed the stage from a 1950s ear trailer home—check out the before & after pix!

stage as trailer home

trailer home as stage

Eberle & my involvment has actually been a bit hit or miss. The Alice in Wonder Band performed in 2003, & our friends in the Bay Area’s Lipsey Mountain Spring Band came for a few years running. Last year, Eberle & I played with our Bay Area friends Chris & Dani Leone, & our McCall friend Lois Fry as The Spurs of the Moment at the festival (see pic up top), & we also performed a fund-raiser for the festival a few years back with our now defunct band The Blue Notes. It just seems there’s always been something that interfered—a couple of years it was the film soundtracks we were working on; one year we were booked to play a wedding in Portland that weekend. This year, Eberle will be on her way to Canada to visit her friend Margot. However, I’ll be playing on Saturday afternoon at 3:45, injecting a bit of old acoustic blues into the proceedings. For the curious, my set list is looking like:

Mean Old Bedbug Blues (Bessie Smith, et al. including Rambling Jack Elliott)
Joliet Bound (Memphis Minnie & others—Rory Block does a fantastic version)
St. James Infirmary (everyone knows this one)
Candy Man (the Reverend Gary Davis version—the Mississippi John Hurt version might be a bit too racy!)
Peavine Blues (Charley Patton—incredible song)
Green Green Rocky Road (I know it from Dave Van Ronk’s version)

The Council Mountain Music Festival leans heavily in the direction of bluegrass music, which is appropriate given that country & bluegrass are the most popular forms of music locally—I remember being asked before an Alice in Wonder Band gig at a local private party what type of music we played; after trying to explain the Wonder Band’s music (not an easy thing), the man who’d asked pointed out that he liked “both kinds of music: country & western.”

The festival will run from Friday at 5:00 p.m. (with Dale’s band Highway 95 kicking off the show) to midday Sunday, with a picnic dinner following a musical worship service. All you local folks: plan to be there for some good music & good times. You can check out the band line-ups at the festival page here. Admission is free!


  1. Good luck John, it looks a mighty music festival and it's FREE! I'd love to go, now all I need is a speedy recovery and the air fare :)

  2. Good luck John, it sounds like a wonderful festival. When Isobel finally retires we plan to travel, so who knows, we might make the festival one year.

  3. I'd love to be able to hear you, John, this whole festival sounds wonderfully active - and Dale Fisk's involvement makes it even better. Wish there were more of these closer to inner cities - folks could grab a bus and get back in touch with the good things in life! Like music and people.

  4. Hi TFE & Alan & Cathy:

    Thanks for the good wishes!

    TFE: Well, let's hope for your speedy recovery anyway!

    Alan: That would be fun!

    Cathy: The inner city bus is a wonderful thought.

  5. Sounds like great fun. Will Eberle by any chance be in my part of Canada?

  6. Hi Sandra: No, she'll be on an island on a lake along the Ontario/New York border. She's actually on her way-- a well-deserved vacation for her, tho I'll sure miss her.

  7. Ah. Too bad. Never mind. I'm determined to meet you and Eberle on one of my trips south.


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