Bluegrass festival Saturday

Published 6:35 pm Tuesday, April 17, 2018

By Elizabeth Pattman

Staff writer

The sounds of bluegrass will fill Main Street Smithfield as the first ever Hometown Bluegrass Festival comes to town Saturday afternoon.

The festival will be held at the gazebo in front of The Smithfield Times starting at 3 p.m. The main show will feature the U.S. Navy Band’s Country Current, performing later in the evening.

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According to festival organizer Joe Mastrangelo, the main drive to bring Country Current to Smithfield is to celebrate Isle of Wight County native Haley Stiltner, who recently joined the ensemble.

Stiltner was a well-known banjo player and bluegrass musician in Isle of Wight County before she joined Country Current in 2017 after she graduated from East Tennessee State University, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in business, specializing in bluegrass, old time and country music studies. She also completed her master’s degree in business at East Tennessee State.

“We thought, let’s see if we can get the Navy band in here to celebrate Haley,” Mastrangelo said about setting up the festival.

Country Current, which is based out of Washington D.C., has played both prestigious events and small town festivals alike for many years. Founded in 1973, Country Current has performed at the White House and the Grand Ole Opry, as well as at numerous elementary schools, veterans organizations and at music festivals across the country, according to the band’s website.

Their set at the Hometown Bluegrass Festival will begin at 6 p.m.

In addition to Country Current, the festival will also feature local Isle of Wight County bluegrass bands, including the Jesse Burdick Band, the Flatland Bluegrass Band and Hard Knox. These acts will begin performing at the festival’s opening at 3 p.m.

“Isle of Wight has a lot of history with bluegrass music. With that history, it’s always good to keep it alive and to celebrate the fact that there’s all this joy from the music,” said Mastrangelo, about the decision to include local acts.

The event is being sponsored and promoted by the Amore Music Company, of which Mastrangelo is the head, The Smithfield Times, the Tidewater Bluegrass Music Association, for which Mastrangelo is the program director, Smithfield Music and the Tidewater Friends of Acoustic Music.

The festival will be free and open to the public. Attendees should bring chairs or blankets for seating.