The Hillbenders

When I was invited, for the third time, to review the John Hartford Memorial Festival, in its 9th year, I heartily accepted. I also tried to bring people along, because it’s an experience worth sharing. I was at a loss, at first, to explain it. Not just a bluegrass festival. A picking festival? Mostly. But with elements ranging from old-time Americana, root music, classical and rock and jazz- I settled on bluegrass and its extended family. It turns out that ‘extended family’ would come back around a few times.

Located along the serene Maremac River, Lost Hill Lake offers a natural venue and spot for a festival of interactive workshops and large, late night bonfire jams. Two stages are separated by the shade of a 50 year-old walnut grove, where the audience can participate in camping, have lake and river access and an assortment of food, artisan crafts and more. The 14-band lineup consists of local, regional and national touring bands performing a range of traditional and progressive bluegrass, jamgrass, Americana folk and more.

Keller Williams has announced a new Tom Petty-inspired project titled Keller Williams’ PettyGrass, which finds him performing select covers in a rollicking bluegrass style alongside eclectic bluegrass quintet The Hillbenders. The project began in 2015, when Williams put together a set of Petty covers for his annual hometown S.P.C.A. benefit, recording the rehearsals as voice memos on his phone.

To return to a point in your life that you have already lived is metaphysical. Déjà vu, as most of us call it, feels mystical, even if it has a chemical explanation. Scientific evidence aside, to relive something that you have lived before is an experience that seems to connect us with something beyond ourselves. We can both be in the moment and be able to predict (or at least have the feeling that we are predicting) what is coming around the next corner. But to experience déjà vu and to be able to improve upon the actions that once were? Now that is something different altogether.

With deep roots planted in Colorado, and a love for the state and people sowed over years, The Hillbenders have announced they will be hosting the Foothills Flood Relief Benefit - Working Together to Help Colorado's Front Range, on Thursday, Oct. 24 at George's Majestic Lounge in Fayetteville, AR. The benefit will include special guests, the Cindy Woolf & Mark Bilyeu Band featuring Jody Bilyeu (of Big Smith).

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