Now in its ninth year, Delfest was founded by the patriarch of bluegrass, Del McCoury, to showcase the talents of his brood and to cultivate an all-ages atmosphere that revolves around a distinct, down-home vibe and unparalleled musicianship. Set in Cumberland, Maryland, along the Potomac River in the rolling hills of Appalachia, the four-day event was marked by rain and intense heat, as well as one of the best string-based lineups of the summer.
McCoury is not only a headliner and the festival’s main draw, but he also has a integral role when it comes to curating the rest of the lineup. This year’s included a lot of world-class bluegrass, from Jerry Douglas and the Earls of Leicester to Sam Bush Band to the Infamous Stringdusters, as well as Americana trio the Wood Brothers, singer-songwriter Aoife O’Donovan and 10-piece funk and soul band The Broomstix, featuring McCoury’s teenaged nephew (and driving home Delfest’s family vibes).
A major theme of the festival is its attendee’s knack for Del-ifying everything, from the DELuxe camping, to the DELbows — a knocking of the elbows — that serve as a common greeting, to the altering of band names (our favorite: DELephant Revival). Thus, the phrase “Delyeah” is as ubiquitous as moonshine at the three-day event, serving as an enthusiastic form of approval that speaks to anything worthy of the McCourys, whether it be the generosity of a camp that’s feeding you, or a one-of-a-kind sit-in you’ll be talking about through July. Here’s a small selection of the artists that really stood out over the weekend, inspiring multiple “Delyeahs.”
All photographs courtesy of Brady Wayne Cooling, Victoria Pittarelli and Mark Raker.