Renowned musicians on the bill for American music, arts fest


Musical legend Doc Watson and other acclaimed performers are in the lineup for the annual American Music and Arts Festival on July 8 and 9 at Carroll County Farm Museum.

Sponsored by Common Ground on the Hill, a program in residence at Western Maryland College that promotes diversity through music and the arts, the festival spotlights an eclectic range from blues to folk to bluegrass to gospel.

Watson, who will perform with Jack Lawrence on Saturday only, is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and five-time Grammy Award-winner. An influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar, Watson blends his traditional Appalachian roots with bluegrass, country, gospel and blues to create a unique style.

The festival wraps up Common Ground's weeklong summer program, which will run Sunday to July 7 and will include workshops taught by festival performers and other artists.

Also joining headliner Watson at this year's festival is Bill Keith, acknowledged as one of the greatest banjo players of all time, with his innovative technique called the Keith Style. Keith played with the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall as a soloist in "The Bluegrass Cantata" by P. D. Q. Bach.

Other performers include: visual and performance artist Joyce Scott; Scotland's Heather Heywood, Tom Smith and Wattie Lees; African-American folk and blues artist Sparky Rucker; Sankofa, a Baltimore-based African dance and drumming troupe; and autoharp legend Bryan Bowers.

The festival also will feature storytelling, poetry, a juried art and craft show, and a children's program.

The entertainment will begin on several stages at 10 a.m. both days, with Saturday's concerts scheduled until 9 p.m., and Sunday's events running through 5 p.m.

Each day at 3 p.m., a parade of flags will be held from the children's World Village.

On Saturday, after the music ends, a dance will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight at Carroll County Agriculture Center, next to the farm museum. Bill Weller will be the caller, and the Common Ground Concert String Band will perform.

Weekend tickets for adults are $25. Tickets are $18 for Saturday only, and $12 for Sunday only. Teens age 18 and younger will be admitted for $5 each day, and children age 12 and younger will be admitted free. Those attending are invited to camp nearby ($5 per person per night).

Information:, or Walt Michael at or call him at 410-857-2771.

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