Delmarva Folk Festival offers up local lineup

The stage is set for Saturday’s 26th annual Delmarva Folk Festival at Fields Farm near Hartly. The music starts Friday with the Delmarva Folk Hero Contest. (Submitted photo)

HARTLY — The normally hard-driving local blues band Bad Juju is quieting down — at least for one night.

In a first for the popular group, coming up on its 10th year, Bad Juju will perform an acoustic set as it headlines the 26th annual Delmarva Folk Festival on Saturday.

“It’s a big deal. We’re excited about it,” said Bad Juju bassist and leader Ken Belmont.

“It’s a great event. I’ve actually worked it a couple years as one of the gate people. It’s a feel-good event and a lot of good things go into it. The organizers really put their heart and soul into it. We’re humbled by the invitation.”

John Kidd, co-president of the Delaware Friends of Folk, the producers of the festival, came up with the idea to have the boys unplug.

“I like doing that kind of thing. We had (local blues group) Nothin’ But Trouble do the same thing at one of our coffeehouses,” he said.

“I’ve known Kenny for a while and I’ve seen the band. They are good. But electric doesn’t really fit with the festival. I talked to him and we made it work.”

Mr. Belmont said he brought the idea to his bandmates.

“He kind of threw that curve at me and I checked with the guys and they thought it was so crazy that it just might work,” he said.

For Saturday’s show, set for about 9 p.m. at Fields Farm on Downs Chapel Road near Hartly, Mr. Belmont will be joined by guitarists and vocalists Lin Doughton and George Dreisbach, drummer Michael Bryant and special guest Andy Vincent on harmonica.

Mr. Belmont said the guys have talked about doing an all-acoustic show before but have never pulled it off until now.

“George is a huge Eric Clapton aficionado so we’re looking forward to the opportunity to play in his style and do some stuff that’s out there too,” he said.

Blues band Bad Juju will play its first acoustic set in its 10-year history Saturday at the Delmarva Folk Festival, From left, members are Lin Doughton, Ken Belmont, Michael Bryant and George Dreisbach. They will be joined by Andy Vincent on harmonica. (Submitted photo)

“It’s the perfect venue to do something like this. It’s very different from what we normally do.”

As far as what they exactly might play, it’s anybody’s guess. But that’s usually the case with Bad Juju.

“Our setlist is so secret, we don’t even know what it is,” Mr. Belmont joked.

“The truth of the matter is that we don’t ever lay it out in any order. George and Lin do most of the singing so they just yell it out and we play it. We shoot from the hip a lot. We may do songs you’ve heard before but we’ll change up the arrangement a bit. I think that keeps it all fresh and moving and it’s never the same thing twice. That’s one of the best parts about playing with these guys.”

The Kent County-based Bad Juju will lead a list of Saturday acts that all have Delmarva ties.

“We went out of our way this year to make it all real local,” Mr. Kidd said.

“We support local music and we have a ton of talent around here.”

Others playing throughout the day include Kent County favorites Celtic Harvest and Sand Creek.

The old-time group Driven Women will represent Maryland’s Eastern Shore and former Wilmington resident Jessica

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Wilmington singer-songwriter John Flynn will perform at 8 p.m.
Saturday. (Submitted photo)

Graae will travel from her new home in Ridley Park, Pa.

“She’s been in our Folk Hero Contest. She’s actually Danish, has been to Denmark and has lots of extended family there. Her music has a bit of that influence,” Mr. Kidd said.

Also from New Castle County will be the “dork rock” duo of Hot Breakfast, singer-songwriter-activist John Flynn and jazz performer Bruce Anthony.

“We’ve had other jazz performers in the past such as (local vibraphonist) Joe Baione. People may not think that fits our mold but like folk, jazz is a strictly original American art form,” Mr. Kidd said.

The festival officially begins tonight at 7 with the 11th annual Delmarva Folk Hero Contest.

It will be hosted by last year’s winner, the Dover-based indie blues group Hoochi Coochi.

Six acts, selected by audience vote at the July and August open mic preliminaries, will take the stage and the audience that evening will select the new Delmarva Folk Hero. Along with getting a host of prizes, the winner grabs the chance to kick off the festival Saturday at noon.

FOLK FESTIVAL LINEUP
Noon – Folk Hero Contest winner (from Friday night)
1 p.m. – Jessica Graae
2 p.m.- Driven Women
3 p.m. – Sand Creek
5 p.m. – Celtic Harvest
6 p.m. – Bruce Anthony
7 p.m. – Hot Breakfast
8 p.m. – John Flynn
9 p.m. – Bad Juju

This year’s contestants are Doug Liddicoat, Nancy Huebner, Mike Miller, Tom Hench, Butch and Teri Zito and Nancy Maliewsky.

For Mr. Liddicoat, a singer-songwriter, this will be just his second time on stage. His first was during the Folk Hero preliminaries this past summer.

“He told me the other day, ‘This is another thing I can cross of my bucket list,’” Mr. Kidd said.

Along with the music, the festival will feature workshops, kids activities, and craft and food vendors featuring beer from Blue Earl Brewing in Smyrna.

Weekend tent and RV sites are available as well.

Tickets for Saturday are $15 at the Delaware Store, 325 S. State St. if bought by today at 5 p.m. or $20 online at Delfolk.org by tonight. They will be available at the gate Saturday for $30. Admission for tonight’s Folk Hero Contest will be $7.

Reach features editor Craig Horleman at chorl@newszap.com

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