Baltimore City Paper

What's up with folk and country

Sometimes it's all about the song. On Friday, March 29, Minas Gallery hosts Songwriters in the Round, a chance for you to hear some top-notch local songsmiths like Adam Trice of Red Sammy, Cliff Murphy (who works with Maryland Traditions finding some of the best musical treasures in the state), and Publishing Genius' Adam Robinson.

Other times it's the picking. Back before Earl Scruggs, nearly every little town and hollar had its own style of banjo-pickin', but clawhammer frailin' was among the most common. Saturday night, March 30, you can hear some clawhammer set against the Scruggs bluegrass style and Irish banjo at the Creative Alliance's Baltimore Banjo Showcase, featuring Mike Munford, Ken and Brad Kolodner, Peter Fitzgerald, and more. The pickin' starts kickin' at 8 P.M. For more info, visit

Speaking of the old-timey banjo, Letitia Van Sant has been busy. She's working on a new EP, called Parts and Labor, with a brand-new band, but she'll be doing some solo sets in the near future. First up is a spectacular show on April 25 at the Windup Space with Her Fantastic Cats, Cris Jacobs (formerly of the Bridge), Paper Daughter, and Michael Beresh of the Country Devils (who are recording an album that Beresh describes as sounding like what it would be if "Motörhead put out a heavy bluegrass album with five-part harmonies." Fuck yeah!) Van Sant'll also be playing the Bumper Jacksons' rough-and-tumble country-meets-street jazz album-release show on May 24, also at the Windup Space.

We've got a bit ahead of ourselves, 'cause the big news is the Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival, which will also feature Van Sant, along with big names like Tony Trischka, Tim O'Brien, and local luminaries (not those fucking Lumineers) like Caleb Stine-whose new album, we can attest after hearing a few songs, is gonna be great. The CCFBF, held at Union Craft Brewing on April 27, will also highlight one of the hottest new acts on the scene, the Happy Hours (pictured), featuring bass maestro Jake Leckie and former Urbanite editor and who-the-hell-knew-she-could-sing-so damn-pretty filmmaker Rebecca Messner. Keep an eye on for more about this hoedown and the Happy Hours at