G.E. Smith is returning for his second Berks Country Fest. Last year, he performed his History of the Electric Guitar show to rave reviews.
One of the most in demand blues/rock guitarists in the world is a mysterious character who goes by the name of G.E. Smith. Millions of TV viewers know his face-and the shock of unruly blond ponytail that was always falling across it-from his tenure stint of fronting the Saturday Night Live Band.
He was the lead guitarist in the band Hall & Oates and the musical director of Saturday Night Live. Smith was lead guitarist of Bob Dylan’s touring band from June 1988, to October 1990.
As a session player, Smith has performed and recorded with an exceptionally wide spectrum of influential artists. His own albums include In The World (1981), Get A Little (with the Saturday Night Live Band, 1993) and Incense, Herbs and Oils (1998). Smith was the lead guitarist for the band Moonalice until December 2009.
Wyatt Rice is also a member of the Crooked Road Guitar Masters and was first spotlighted as an original member of the Tony Rice Unit, where he was featured on numerous recordings, videos, and performances. Wyatt has recorded or performed with players such as David Grisman, JD Crowe, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Dan Tyminski, Alison Krauss, Bela Fleck, Rickie Simpkins, Ronnie Bowman, Lee Ann Womack, The Lonesome River Band, Sierra Hull, Ricky Skaggs, as well as his brothers Larry, Tony and Ronnie.
Claiborne Woodall is a member of the prestigious Crooked Road Guitar Masters and performs bluegrass and Americana material with equal facility as well as being an excellent singer. He brings a knack for nice arrangements and tasteful solos that comes as much from knowing what notes to leave out as what notes to put in. He has performed at The Smithsonian Institution, Floydfest, Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, The Down Home, and acoustic venues throughout the East.
What began as a professional campfire jam experience between Lefty Wilson (Scruggs banjo) and Brown Bird “Coontail” Gunther James (6-string banjo), quickly recruited the expertise of Stove “The Iron Swan” Moose (primal banjo) and Klabe Dunn (mandolin banjo) for an ultimate open-mic and late-night festival jug-less Jug-Grass adventure. Blazing an unrivaled path through the local Pennsylvania bar and festival scene, the Gang had soon snatched up the honorary services of Hamburg native Sir Brandon “Re-bar” The First (washboard percussion banjo extraordinaire) and those of Reading’s Zak Auchenbach (bass; variety: upright banjo) to complete their current, touring, name-droppin’, finger poppin’ line-up of Uncle Jake & the 18 Wheel Gang.
The Gang can be seen performing songs that have traditionally been originals, alongside some more tunes that are originally traditionals that can be heard reverberating out of the heart of most town and city folk alike, from any mountain tavern, campfire, or late night stage across this side of the continent.
“Folk, Jazz, Blues Superstructures” NEW YORK TIMES
“Ferocious Fingerstryle” BILLBOARD MAGAZINE
“Absolutely First-Rate SOUNDBOARD MAGAZINE
“Eclectic….Refreshing” GUITAR PLAYER MAGAZINE
David Cullen has performed in a dazzling wide range of styles including Jazz, Classical and World Music.David Cullen is a Grammy Award Winning Guitarist for Best Pop Instrumental Recording. He has performed with Will Ackerman, Samite, Michael Manring, Victor Wooten, Tracy Silverman, Darol Anger, The Depue Brothers Band, The Jaco Big Band and The Philly Pops.
He is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Elizabethtown College. He teaches Jazz, Classical and Contemporary Popular Styles at West Chester University and Millersville University. David Cullen graduated from the Hartt School of Music with a BM, Magna Cum Laude, in Classical Guitar Performance.
David Cullen is featured on the Windham Hill Guitar Sampler and other Windham Hill Compilation recordings.
He has performed throughout North America for Classical Guitar Societies, Performing Arts Series and Jazz Festivals. David Cullen has release 10 CD recordings with Solid Air Records. His recordings have been featured on NPR stations across the country.
The Craig Thatcher Band has been entertaining audiences with their exciting brand of blues/rock music since 1993. This is a must-see-live performing band; their on-stage energy and confidence is explosive!
CTB is based in Pennsylvania’s northeastern Lehigh Valley (Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton area).
CTB has been Artist-Of-The-Day and also Artist-In-Residence at Musikfest, a 10-day international music and arts festival held in Bethlehem, Pa.
The band has performed at concert halls, theaters, festivals and clubs all over the world including European tours in 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004.
The Craig Thatcher Band has released 2 CDs – Because of You (1996) and Temptation (2000). Most of the recorded material is original, written by Craig. They have also been featured on releases on Bummer Tent Records and individually, have been featured as guest artists on many other independent releases. CTB has also been featured on radio and television in many parts of the world.
He recently performed in The Sound Room. Watch it here!
Jim Hurst’s unique picking style and mastery of bluegrass guitar wows audiences and is revered by both novice guitar players and his musical peers. His eclectic career has made him a remarkable performer, an experienced instructor and a highly sought after session musician. His affability and gregariousness make him one of the most approachable musicians of his caliber.
The product of a musical family, Jim honed his musical style after being influenced by the likes of Tony Rice, Clarence White and Jerry Reed. He got national exposure with Holly Dunn’s Rio Band playing acoustic guitar and mandolin, and singing harmonies; followed by several high profile television and radio appearances while touring with Trisha Yearwood playing acoustic and electric guitar, and harmony vocals. Jim also experienced performances with Travis Tritt, and Sara Evans.
Itching to play more bluegrass, Jim joined the Grammy-nominated Claire Lynch and her Front Porch String Band in 1995 where he teamed up with kindred spirit bassist Missy Raines. While with Claire Lynch, Missy and Jim formed a duet, creating ground-breaking arrangements. They earned IBMA Guitar and Bass Player of the Year for 2001 and 2002.
Wanting to pursue greater artistic freedom, Jim left the Claire Lynch Band in 2010 to embark on a solo career. With three solo works to his credit, Open Window, Second Son, A Box of Chocolates,Intrepid, and his latest 2014 release Looking Glass, Jim’s virtuosity shines as he consistently sways audiences with his deft finger work and smooth vocals. Jim performs his show full time and teaches at guitar workshops and music camps in North America and Europe. While he occasionally collaborates with other bluegrass greats, his solo performance is what keeps audiences mesmerized.
A highly accomplished fiddler and violinist in all styles of music, Travis Wetzel, the Mad Fiddler, has performed throughout the United States and in Europe and has also fiddled on the Grand Ole Opry with bluegrass music royalty, including Jesse McReynolds. By combining his master skill at fiddling with his love of American history and the American Civil War Era, Wetzel will treat the audience to an entertaining trip back in time.
Wetzel is a dynamic musician, song writer and vocalist. His music has many folds including bluegrass, jazz, swing, Celtic, Klezmer, Native American, gospel, country and classical. He is lead fiddler/violinist on countless recording projects ranging from country to rock. He has performed and recorded with artists such as Bill Monroe, Jesse McReynolds, Bill Harrell, Del McCoury, Doyle Lawson, Mac Wiseman, Jimmey Fortune, John Schneider and David Frizzell.
Travis played at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts and the Senator Rayburn Building in Washington D.C. with Congressman Ben “Cooter” Jones of Dukes of Hazzard fame for the House of Representatives. He and Cooter also produced a CD titled Ghosts of Dixie Vol 1.
MiZ is a soulful, Rock-Americana artist from northeast Pennsylvania who is known as a skillful and well rounded master of both acoustic and electric guitar. His sound is directly impacted by the coal mining region of PA and the songs evoke the rustic tones and imagery you would expect from the region and its cultural heritage.
The singer/songwriter/guitarist Mike Mizwinski gives name to the band and his solo work and it is his heart and soul — poured into the words and his guitar — that drives it all forward. We use the term singer/songwriter loosely here, as a MiZ show can feature fast, intricate instrumental guitar compositions, foot-stomping bluegrass, soulful ballads, creative covers and a melting pot of different styles, textures, flavors and feels that make up the catalog (over four albums’ worth) of self-penned songs. Mike has maintained a freshness, a vibe, something, that keeps fans coming back for more.
MiZ has opened for America, The Wallflowers, Derek Trucks Band, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Blues Traveler, Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett, Leon Russell, Railroad Earth and many more.
American Babies is a Philadelphia-based band whose music defies easy categorization. Their music shapeshifts between Americana, psych-tinged indie rock and classic rock. They have opened for Bruce Hornsby, Greensky Bluegrass, the New Mastersounds and the Felice Brothers. They have had appearances at Gathering Of The Vibes, Electric Forest, Bonnaroo and the Allman Brothers-founded Peach Festival, as well.
With such a chameleonic existence, it’s unsurprising that American Babies founder/principal member Tom Hamilton’s guiding creative principle is very simple: He doesn’t like to repeat himself artistically. For the multi-instrumentalist, this mindset stems from a deep-seated need to always keep pushing himself as a musician—to delve into different lyrical themes and musical detours, and to explore potentially uncomfortable and unfamiliar emotional places.
Having taken time to refocus after the 2014 release of “singer/songwriter,” Matt Duke returns with the release of The Phoenix, a conceptual album about clinical depression, the desire to come out from under, and the ebb and flow of one’s emotional state of being.
Realized through the help of producer and engineer Andrew Lipke (Hezekiah Jones, Chris Kasper), Duke returned to the studio with longtime friends and fellow musicians Dane Kline, Nathan Barnett, Andrea Weber and others, to create an album that is both insightful thematically, while also eclectic in its artistry.
Presently a student at Aria’s Health School of Nursing, Duke spends much of his time wondering where he left his keys.
Rarely do you get in one musician the virtuosity of singer, instrumentalist and songwriter. Kevin brings all three with eloquent effortlessness.
Kevin possesses an otherworldly ear and literal sleight of hand. Watching his nimble fingers execute a fretboard is like bearing witness to a spider weaving geometry into form.
From the first note, you notice honed, flexible vocals, at once at ease with old-as-the-hills bluegrass as the latest pop number on the radio. There’s authenticity underlying all the flow, and a comfort level with an impressive range – high and soulful to deep and baleful.
Kevin’s approach to songwriting never fails to present a different perspective – lyrically and musically. He delivers impeccably crafted, hand-hewn tunes – a perfect turn of word here, transforming melodies there – lush, tuneful journeys not to be missed.