TUNKHANNOCK — Entering its fourth year, the Cornstock Folk Festival, which will be held Friday through Sunday, Sept. 2-4, continues to attract a broad pallet of musicians to Lazy Brook Park. Professor Louie and the Crow Matrix will headline this summer’s event, which features free camping with the purchase of a weekend pass for $50 per adult.
Night-time jams lead to all-day concerts, with world-class acts delivering a variety of grassroots music on two stages.
Aaron “Professor Louie” Hurwitz formed the Crowmatrix in 2000, pulling together an ensemble of seasoned musicians who had honed their skills performing with legendary folk artists like Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Steve Forbert, Levon Helm, Rick Danko, and Joe Jackson. Their 2009 album “Whispering Pines” was nominated for five Grammies.
Other highlighted acts for the 2016 festival include Roy Williams and the Human Hands, Bobtown, and the Brummy Brothers.
Williams grew up in Clarks Green in a home where popular music was a mainstay. Influenced by Neil Young, Buffalo Springfield, and the Beatles, he began playing gigs in the Scranton area. It was in New York City that he met guitarist Stephane Wrembel, who introduced him to her unique style of Gypsy Jazz. Now based in Brooklyn, Williams plays regularly with renowned fiddle player Alex Hargreaves.
Bobtown also comes from New York and offers an unconventional take on traditional folk and Americana. The five-member band features three female musicians: Karen Dahlst on guitar; Katherine Etzel on drums, accordion, and ukulele; and Jen McDearman on percussion. Alan Lee Becker adds banjo, guitar and dobro, and Fred McDearman plays bass. Bobtown members share vocal duties and excel in harmonizing.
The Brummy Brothers are relatively new to the scene, but their original blend of bluegrass, rock and improvisation quickly led to the 2014 album release “On Our Way” and a rigorous touring schedule of nearly 100 gigs per year. Band members include guitarist Andrew Morris, bassist Dave Brumberg, Eric Brumberg on mandolin, and Russell Gottlieb on banjo.
Poor Man’s Gambit and Vintage Drive round out the list of visiting bands.
Regional and local acts on the bill this summer include Hickory Project, Coal Town Rounders, Bug Tussle, JP Williams Blues Band, Sassafras, Dishonest Fiddlers, Couple Days, Texas Rose, and Take 2. Pappy Biondo and Dylan Starsky from Cabinet and Anthony Hannigan of Hickory Project comprise Launch PAD, a jam band that will host one of the festival’s two late-night shows.
Anthony and Jillian Hannigan work together not only solicit top-notch musicians, but to also enlist a wide variety of vendors to meet the needs of those visiting the festival for just a day and those who take advantage of the free camping option. There are numerous activities for kids, and those 16 and under are admitted free.
Last year’s campers were the first to seek the cooling waters of Tunkhannock Creek when day time temperatures became unseasonably warm. Campers are also encouraged to bring their instruments and get in on jam sessions and pickin’ parties that can pop up anywhere at any time.
Prior to the start of the festival, the fourth-annual Northeast Strings Workshops will be held at the Dietrich Theater in Tunkhannock. Beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Sept. 2, five hours of instruction will cover mandolin, banjo, guitar and jamming.
The cost to participate in the strings workshop is $50, and space is limited. Workshop participants can also purchase weekend passes to Cornstock at a reduced cost and set up camp a night earlier than the public.
For more information on the string workshops and the festival, visit cornstockfestival.com or “like” the Cornstock Folk Festival page on Facebook.