CARRABASSETT VALLEY – Sugarloaf/USA will hold its first Mountain Music Festival on Friday and Saturday, Dec. 10 and 11.

The Lonesome River Band will headline the festival performing traditional yet contemporary bluegrass Saturday night in the base lodge. Maine’s own Jerks of Grass will accompany them on Saturday’s program offering high-energy progressive bluegrass. The John Cate Band will be playing its roots-rock sound.

Friday night’s action will be in the Widowmaker Lounge, also located in the base lodge. The Monster Mike Welch Band will take the stage for three performances throughout the weekend. They will bring their traditional guitar blues-rock to the Widowmaker stage on Friday night, Saturday afternoon and Saturday night.

The Mountain Music Festival evolved from the Sugarloaf Blues Festival, which began seven years ago.

Bluegrass appeals to music fans of all ages, organizers noted. Bluegrass showcases the skills and talents of the musicians because there is little or no amplification. The listener hears each note played on traditional instruments like the fiddle, stand-up bass, acoustic guitar and banjo. “What happens with us is we play fast enough to keep young people interested but we don’t blow people away with volume,” said Jerks of Grass banjo player Carter Logan.

The Lonesome River Band’s traditional sound with a rock ‘n’ roll edge is credited with attracting a new generation of fans. “Our whole philosophy is to involve young fans, to bring in new fans, by creating a spark that gets them saying, ‘Bluegrass is cool,’ because of the energy,” said band member Sammy Shelor.

The John Cate Band made its first appearance at Sugarloaf last season, opening for the Marshall Tucker Band. The group’s sound is guitar-laden accompanied by meaningful lyrics.

The Jerks of Grass musicians have been gathering a local following by performing more than 150 times a year throughout Maine and New England. Their progressive bluegrass sound of banjo, fiddle, dobro and stand-up bass has garnered honors including Best Folk, Best Roots and Best Bluegrass Artist in the annual Portland Phoenix readers’ polls.

The members of Jerks of Grass say they maintain such a busy performance calendar for the simple reason they love it. “It’s like paid practice to us,” Logan said.

Tickets are $16.50 in advance or $20 day of show for King Pine Room performances. Nightly admission to the Widowmaker Lounge will be $7. All evening performances are for adults 21 and over. Afternoon events are open to all ages. FMI: call (800) THE-LOAF (843-5623) or go to www.sugarloaf.com.


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