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New local festival Jam in the Trees Aug. 26-27


Del McCoury plays guitar, with sons Rob on banjo and Ron (at center) on mandolin, in the Del McCoury Band.

Features Wood Bros., Del McCoury, Burrito Bros., Lauderdale

By Pete Zamplas-  Creative roots trio The Wood Brothers and legendary bluegrass guitarist-singer Del McCoury help a new local festival spring to life, as Jam in the Trees debuts Aug. 26-27 in Black Mountain.

Country-rock pioneering (Flying) Burrito Brothers and two-time Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Jim Lauderdale help headline the outdoor festival at Pisgah Brewing Co. at 150 Eastside Dr.

Other main acts on Aug. 27 include Junior Brown (who had two country hits), The Secret Sisters (Americana harmonic duo, Laura and Lydia Rogers), blues-rock Patrick Sweany, and classical and folk virtuoso and soulful singer Leyla McCalla, She plays banjo, and was cellist in Grammy-winning string band Carolina Chocolate Drops.

North Carolinian performers on Aug. 27 indoors or outside include Savannah Smith, Mipso, and Chatham County Line. Mark Bumgarner is the first (at 11 a.m.) and last act (to 6:15 p.m.) indoors, hours ahead of the late jam led by Unspoken Tradition and starting 11 p.m.

The festival launches Friday 8-11 p.m., all indoors. Folk singer-songwriter Willie Watson headlines, after Asheville-based Tellico. Watson, 36, was an original in Old Crow Medicine Show. He plays guitar and banjo. Tellico is fronted by Anya Hinkle on vocals, fiddle and guitar. They augment old-time with bluegrass-type resonator guitar, and Americana blends.

Pisgah Brewing has spacious grounds at the Pisgah Outdoor Stage, and an indoor stage such as for an after-hours jam Aug. 27. Media sponsor WNCW will emcee. Pisgah Brewing Events Mgr. Benton Wharton expects the inaugural festival to sell out ahead, and live up to his venue’s reputation for “top-notch” music and festiveness.

Jam In The Trees, LLC. Pres. Laurel York, a lifelong Asheville resident, sees “Pisgah Brewing as a perfect outdoor site for a “wide range of award-winning roots musicians” and “gathering of folks for the purpose of celebrating great music, beer, and philanthropy.” Add “exquisite local food offerings and VIP events with the artists.”


The Wood Bros. are (L-R) Oliver Wood, Chris Wood, and Jano Rix.

A portion of proceeds go to local not-for-profit Wild Forests & Fauna. WildFF Ex. Dir. Benjamin Colvin said “Jam in the Trees is shining a bright light, bringing our community together in support of the Big Tree Project which focuses on the biggest, baddest trees in Western N.C. and beyond, that generate the most benefits to surrounding ecosystems and biodiversity. We all want people to go outside, get connected, get lost a little, and act to protect our forests for future generations.”

Festival publicist Erin Scholze is excited on how Jam in the Trees can bolster Asheville area’s musical prowess.

Lauderdale has put out 28 roots solo music albums in 30 years spanning country, bluegrass, soul, R&B and rock. He has co-written many hits, and is an “intuitive sideman” on stage.

Asheville-based Savannah Smith oozes “North Mississippi soul.” The MerleFest Songwriting Contest recent finalist pens emotionally “powerful melodies and lyrics” with “fiery delivery,” critics said.

The Burrito Brothers carry on “hippie country” of one of the Sixties bands with the snazziest names — The Flying Burrito Bros. that lasted in 1968-70. Walter Egan, Rick Lonow, Fred James and Chris James are members. Egan did the smash pop ballad “Magnet and Steel” in 1978.



Leyla McCalla is a cellist-banjo virtuoso.

The late Gram Parsons steered folk rockers The Byrds to country. Then he and band mate Chris Hillman bolted, forging The Flying Burrito Bros. and what he called its “Cosmic Americana” sound. The lineup had such guests as Leon Russell and J.J. Cale early. Its second album featured Bernie Leadon, who moved up to be The Eagles’ initial lead guitarist in ’71 and rejoined that rock-country band on its last tour.

Del McCoury

Grammy-winning Delano Floyd “Del” McCoury is still proficient in traditional bluegrass, and trim at age 77. He was Bill Monroe’s guitarist in 1963-64, and has led a band since 1967. He has recorded 90 albums. He started DelFest for bluegrass in 2008, in Cumberland Md.

The Del McCoury Band plays Jam in the Trees’ main stage Saturday, Aug. 27, 7:45-9 p.m just ahead of the Wood Bros. Then the Travelin’ McCourys are in the indoor, late jam. The band headlined the Flat Rock Music Festival, a dozen years ago.



Savannah Smith-Jam Trees

Del has played with sons Ron on mandolin (since ’81 when he was 14) and younger Rob on banjo since ’86, and as part of the Del McCoury Band since the Nineties. They dominated awards starting then. The band won Inter. Bluegrass Music Assoc. (IBMA) top entertainer award in nine of 11 years. Ronnie was IBMA top mandolinist eight times. Del took home top male vocalist honor three years in a row and again in ‘96, among his 31 IBMA awards.

McCoury won Grammy awards for best bluegrass albums for releases in 2005 (The Company We Keep) and ’13 (The Streets of Baltimore). He was Grammy-nominated for top country album, a Christmas CD, and best roots song from the CD entitled Del and Woody — with music by Del, set to Woody Guthrie lyrics. The CD Celebrating 50 Years of Del McCoury has his recent hits, and recordings of his earlier classics that took few takes to click when done seven years ago. Ron said, “Dad sounds better than ever on here.” As Del once sang on a song, “I’m a guitar-picking, bluegrass-singing, never grow-grow-up boy.”

Wood Bros.

The Wood Brothers play that Saturday, Aug. 27, 9:40 p.m. to nearly 11 p.m. Oliver Wood plays lead guitar and vocals. Chris Wood is on upright bass, harmonica and backing vocals. Oliver has an earthy down-home voice. His roots folk steers the brotherly duo’s blend of mostly blues, folk and country.

Growing up in Colorado, the brothers were influenced by their molecular father biologist’s folk music playing and their mother’s poetry which inspires their song lyrics. Beyond exploring rock, Chris said on his web bio, “we started tracing it back to American roots and blues” and liked its “roundness, warmth, and mystery.” The blues lives on for the Woods. Their recent CD (Paradise) has Derek Trucks on guitar, and Susan Tedeschi on vocals on one song. Chris Wood play some electric guitar.

Oliver’s funky blues band opened for Chris’ famed Medeski, Martin and Wood in Winston-Salem one night in 2004, when careers converged. Oliver surprisingly joined MMW’s closing set in progress, jamming in their jazzy rock fusion instrumentals. Chris said it felt “creepy” seeing his brother use similar improv “impulses,” as if seeing himself on stage that night. They recorded as a duo a year later in a live release. The act, now a trio, has flourished for 11 years as Chris’ popular side project to MMW which has lasted 25 years.

MMW keyboardist John Medeski, who produced two of the five Woods CDs, said Chris from the start was “technically so solid. I felt this kinship with him, rhythmically and energetically. He could do anything you showed him, and then he’d remember it.” He calls Oliver’s songwriting “deep,” and old-styled. Oliver said creative Chris adjusts Oliver’s songs, to be more “cool and unique.”

Chris, 46, is four years younger than taller Oliver. Chris was more focused and driven as a teen musician, still longer-haired Oliver said. Zanier Oliver stuffs underwear into one of his guitars, for its cotton to absorb sound and lessen feedback.

Limited VIP and weekend ticketing packages are available. Doors open an hour ahead of show times. For the schedule and other information, check: and

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