Bluegrass Festival set for Saturday in Montrose

Some of West Virginia’s best bluegrass performers will bring their talents to Montrose Saturday for the fourth annual Allegheny Highlands Trail Bluegrass Festival.

The festival will welcome old friends and newcomers to the Montrose Community Park, located on Salt Lick Road a quarter of a mile off Route 219 in Montrose.

Montrose resident and award-winning bluegrass banjoist Joe Gainer has participated in past events and will join the 2014 festival as a performer and announcer.

“This festival has always featured top-notch performers and I am glad to be a part of it,” Gainer said. “The event promotes the music. It’s great entertainment and lots of fun. And, you can’t beat that barbecue meal they serve.”

One of the area’s newest bluegrass groups leads the festival line-up. ‘Flatt Wound’ brings together the familiar faces and well-known talents of several veteran bluegrass performers, including Gainer on banjo, singer/songwriter Kathy Gainer on vocals, multi-instrumentalist Ramie Bennett on guitar and banjo, Marilyn Bennett on bass, and Jeremy Wanless on mandolin.

Coming from decades in the business and performing in groups like Hardly Ever, No One You Know, Jumpin Tyme, and Buck & Company, these seasoned musicians deliver a crowd-pleasing sound to audiences throughout the region.

The festival will welcome Flatt Wound to the stage at 5:30 p.m.

Two of the area’s most popular and talented fiddle players will be back for another trail festival performance this year.

Four-time state fiddle champion Johnny Cochran and the Johnny Cochran Trio will take the stage at 1:30 p.m. Cochran will be joined by Mark Hamrick on guitar and Lee Sines on electric bass.

A child prodigy, Cochran began performing for the public at age four on WWVA’S live Radio Show and The Wheeling Jamboree, broadcast from the Capital Theater in Wheeling.

He also performed with his father, sister and three brothers in a family band. Hailing from Diana, “The Cochran Family” traveled extensively during the 1970s. Over the course of his career Cochran has played with legendary icons including George Jones, Johnny Paycheck and Lynn Anderson.

A former cast member of the “American Mountain Theater,” he now performs regularly with the house band at the Orange Blossom Trail Music Hall, Lost Creek, and at various local and regional venues.

Local fiddle favorite Jesse Milnes will make his third appearance at the trail festival. Milnes will perform as a duo this year with Nate Druckenmiller on guitar.

Milnes has performed far and wide at venues such as the West Virginia State Folk Festival, the Appalachian Stringband Festival, the Los Angeles Old-Time Social, and the nationally syndicated radio program, “A Prairie Home Companion.”

A former member of the internationally popular country music group, “The Sweetback Sisters,” Milnes now stays close to home. Also a guitarist, singer and songwriter, his music is comfortable in various genres from old time and bluegrass to an occasional swing or blues tune.

New to the Elkins area and the AHT festival, Druckenmiller is a music instructor and banjo builder. In addition to performing, he also repairs instruments.

Jesse and Nate will perform at 3:30 p.m.

Newcomers Blue Steel will open the trail festival show at noon. The five-piece group of native West Virginians blends gospel and country to a hard-driving bluegrass sound. The band features Dave Matheny on the 5-string banjo, Nathaniel Linger, mandolin; Tracy Curtis, upright bass; Ryan Oldaker, guitar, and Leanne Dotson on lead vocals.

The Allegheny Highlands Trail Bluegrass Festival is made possible by support from B&J Music, the City of Parsons, ComforTech, Davis Trust Company, Durbin & Greenbrier Valley Railroad, Elkins Physical Therapy & Sports Injury Clinic, F.L.Y. Market, First Energy Foundation, Joey’s Bike Shop, Papa John’s Pizza, Stonewall Resort, Talbott Frameshop, The Inter-Mountain and West Virginia Radio Corporation.

Advance tickets are available at Joey’s Bike Shop and B&J Music in Elkins, or at Parsons City Hall. Ticket price includes a pulled pork BBQ meal with sandwich, fresh homemade coleslaw, corn on the cob, baked beans, drink and dessert. Music and food will be served from noon to 7 p.m.

All proceeds of the Allegheny Highlands Trail Bluegrass Festival will benefit the Highlands Trail Foundation. HTF has worked since 1995 to develop and promote the Allegheny Highlands Trail in Randolph and Tucker counties. Find Highlands Trail Foundation on Facebook or email for more information and festival directions.