The first annual festival of the Mabon was September 2001 at Planet BlueGrass to celebrate the autumnal equinox. They brought many of the world’s best known Celtic musicians to Lyons. In 2007 things changed; and for nine years the fall was accompanied by a leisurely day along the St. Vrain River followed by an evening of music provided by Adam Aijala and Ben Kaufman of Yonder Mountain String band. In 2017 it changed again by putting together the best parts of the fall offerings. This year, September 16-18, 2022, in Lyons, Planet Bluegrass has announced Mabon, a new concert series programmed in conjunction with Watchhouse’s Andrew Martin and Emily Frantz as curators.
===Friday shows start at 7pm with Regina Spector and Watchhouse duo
Watchhouse, formally Mandolin Orange, consists of Andrew Marlin singer/songwriter, mandolinist and guitarist; with Emily Frantz, fiddle player, guitarist, and singer; who are married to each other. They are a folk/Americana duo based in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. Of the name change Marlin said, “Mandolin Orange was born out of my 21-year-old mind. The name isn’t what I strive for when I write,” and that Watchhouse is a name that reflects their “true intentions” as a band.
The band has released four albums and two instrumental records with Marlin alone. Watchhouse will back up Emmylou Harris and do a duo set, and a band set over the weekend. Some call their music stunning, some call it spiritual, and their controlled harmonies are perfect. “We are so excited to be curating this series with Watchhouse!” says Grace Barrett, Planet Bluegrass’ director of partnerships and communications. “They are dear friends whose music has inspired us for years. The Planet Bluegrass calendar really functions around the sun, and we can’t think of a better way to say ’so long’ to summer.”
Regina Spector is a Russian-American classically trained piano player. Her breakthrough single “Fidelity” won a spot-on Rolling Stones magazine’s list of the top 50 albums of 2006.
===Saturday’s shows start at 4 p.m. and will have Watchhouse backing up Emmylou Harris, Thee Sacred Souls, Big Richard and Andrew Marlin.
Big Richard is comprised of Bonnie Sims on mandolin, Joy Adams on cello, Emma Rose on bass and Eve Panning on fiddle. Begun in 2021, they morphed from a club band to a festival band quickly. Driven by sisterhood, harmony and humor their fun from stage is obvious and their musicianship is first-class. They bring high-energy to any stage witnessed by the number of different artists that had them sit-in with them during this year’s Planet Bluegrass stage. They will spend the rest of the year, after this show, on their first country-wide tour. You will continue to hear from them as they spread their musical joy.
Thee Sacred Souls are a band from San Diego, they quickly signed a deal with Daptone Records and have recently released their first full length recording. “Every step of the way has just been so organic,” says drummer Alex Garcia. “Things just seem to happen naturally when the three of us get together.” Their sound is a cross between sweet 60’s soul and with the groove of 70’s R&B. Singer Josh Lane has a voice that is light and airy while their vocal sound together is amazing.
===Sunday shows start at 3p.m. and will feature, Yasmin Williams, Waxahatchee, The Lil Smokies and Watchhouse.
Yasmin Williams is a young black acoustic guitar player who coaxes sounds that are unique, and unorthodox in a modern style of playing. She puts a fresh spin on the acoustic guitar. She also plays the Kalimba (African Thumb piano) and a harp-like Kora, to bring attention to African based instruments. Her music is totally fresh and different.
Katie Crutchfield, a singer/songwriter hailing from Birmingham, put out two recordings with her twin sister. In 2011 they split, around the same time Katie went through a nasty break-up. She took the name Waxahatchee, a creek near her parents’ house, where she went to recoup and write songs. She then moved to Philadelphia and made an impression almost immediately with the release of her second solo album, “Cerulean Salt.” She has remained one of the most acclaimed artists to debut this decade, with her ramshackle attitude and delectable pop melodies.
Lil Smokies is a band that consists of Matt Cornette, on banjo, Andy Dunnigan, vocals and dobro, Scott Parker, on bass, Matt “Rev” Reieger, on guitar and vocals, and Jake Simpson, on fiddle and vocals. They have built a solid reputation through constant touring. The first configuration of the band was assembled in Missoula and the name was taken from the greenroom food at their first paid gig of a 12 pack and a tray of Lil Smokies sausages. They can turn their grassicana sound into a livelier and more modern one, more rock and roll then most, which makes for an impressive set of music. Their set at RockyGrass this year was outstanding, they rocked it hard.
Emmylou Harris – Originally from Alabama, she learned the music of Pete Seager, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez on guitar. She moved to New York and played the coffee houses in Greenwich Village in the 60’s. She released dozens of albums and singles over the years, and has won 14 Grammy’s and numerous other awards, like becoming a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1992, and an induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008. In 2018 she was presented with the Lifetime Achievement award.
Former Byrd’s member Chris Hillman recommended her to Gram Parsons. The pair shone during vocal harmonies and duets, until he died later that year of an accidental overdose, in 1973. Rodney Crowell was the first in a long line of songwriters whose talents Harris has championed. She then went from playing with the Angel band to the Hot band; and, then contributed to albums of many big stars. She is still one of the best female singers in the world, in my opinion.
Here’s a link to Planet Bluegrass “Schedule”: