The beautiful, rolling foothills of the Catskill Mountains of Greene County, will not be filled with banjo rolls, mandolin chops, or three-part harmonies this summer. After monitoring the Covid-19 situation for months with the health and safety of guests in mind, Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, scheduled for July 15-19 in Oak Hill, NY, has determined that a live event cannot be held this year. This is the first in the event’s 35-year history.
While this is difficult and sad news for the festival’s fans, musicians, and staff, Grey Fox will host an online event to bring the beloved musical community together on the same weekend. The “Spirit of Grey Fox 2020” is being planned by the same team that deftly brings stellar music, fun, and a sense of wonder to thousands of fans from around the world each summer.
Co-hosting the virtual “Spirit of Grey Fox 2020” will be nine-time Grammy winner and Grey Fox Artist-in-Residence, Jerry Douglas; Ron Thomason, raconteur extraordinaire and founder of the festival’s long-time host band, Dry Branch Fire Squad; and award-winning old-time banjo master and songwriter, Joe Newberry. Together they’ll welcome performances by 30-some artists who were scheduled to plat at Grey Fox 2020. By day, the four-day event will feature new music and stories from the all-star lineup; while streaming some of the most memorable sets of past festivals by night. Donations made during “Spirit of Grey Fox 2020” will benefit the IBMA COVID-19 Relief Fund, administered by the International Bluegrass Music Association.
In addition to Douglas, Thomason, and Newberry, the impressive list of acclaimed artists taking part in this virtual event include: Del McCoury, The Infamous Stringdusters, Steep Canyon Rangers, Della Mae, Peter Rowan, Rhonda Vincent, Michael Cleveland, Alison Brown, Rob Ickes, Trey Hensley, Fireside Collective, Che Apalache, Mike Compton, Charm City Junction, The U.S. Navy Band, and many more.
Festival organizers suggest that this is a perfect opportunity for a stay-at-home celebration in our own back yard. “Set up a tent… Hang out in your RV… Cook fun food on your camp stove… Keep drinks in your cooler… Learn a new bluegrass song… Have a watch party… And get into the spirit of being there,” imagines Mary Tyler Doub, founder and producer of Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival since 1985. “We may not be able to gather there in person, but this is the next best thing. It’s important to keep the magic alive.”
Ticket holders have the choice of supporting Grey Fox by donating their 2020 ticket, or they may request a full or partial refund. Donations to help sustain the organization through the year are gratefully accepted. Refund and donate buttons along with details about the upcoming “Spirit of Grey Fox” can be found at www.GreyFoxBluegrass.com.
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