Spring 2018 brought a new tradition to the Port City: the Lawn Chair Bluegrass Blowout. Held at the Brooklyn Arts Center last May, it sold out with local acts Chris Frisina, End of the Line, Massive Grass and Into the Fog.
“I think the main lesson we learned was this is something we want to continue to build upon and put on a couple times a year,” local fiddler player Will Maxwell notes of the event’s return this Thursday.
Presented by Edward Teach Brewery, this time around a portion of the proceeds from the second Lawn Chair Bluegrass Blowout will benefit a charity: Miracle League of Wilmington.
Miracle League, located at 5510 Olsen Park Ln., is all-accessible baseball field that allow children and adults with mental and physical disabilities to play America’s favorite pastime. Conventional leagues have uneven grass and dirt grounds, which are not conducive to wheelchairs and other assistive devices. Miracle League teams play on a custom-designed, rubberized turf field that accommodates these special-needs players.
“But it’s more than playing a game,” Maxwell says. “The Miracle League is about making new friends, building self-esteem and being treated just like other athletes.”
Lawn Chair Bluegrass Blowout number two will bring back Massive Grass, who recently competed in Floyd Fest’s band competition and have opened for big names such as the Travelin’ McCourys. This weekend’s Blowout lineup is expanding to acts outside of Wilmington, too: Asheville’s Fireside Collective and Raleigh’s Hank & Pattie Duo (from Hank, Pattie & the Current).
Fireside Collective has lit up the bluegrass world this summer, placing in bluegrass competitions in North Carolina and Colorado. Hank and Pattie take traditional bluegrass and infuse it with their own flair and styles, including latin and jazz.
“Both acts bring a sophisticated outlook on how bluegrass is being written and played around the state,” Maxwell says. “They’ve both toured the bluegrass festival circuits across the country, so prepare to be blown away by these two groups that have studied the progressive art of bluegrass for years.”
Following their trip out to Colorado’s Telluride Bluegrass Festival, Into the Fog branched out and began exploring different bluegrass directions. Maxwell & Company is the fiddler’s new band of musicians he’s been playing with over the past couple of months.
“This project will have more of a Punch Brothers flare to it with just about as many instrumental tunes as there will be vocal compositions,” Maxwell details.
With Derek Madrid on upright bass and Dylan Fisher on guitar, both graduated from UNC Pembroke with degrees in classical and jazz performance. Accomplished bajoist Michael Malek hails from Raleigh and rounds out the bunch.
“It’s been an honor working with these guys so far,” Maxwell praises. “It’s been an amazing experience, learning from them every step of the way to help mold the songs I’ve been writing over the years.”
Maxwell and Company will start Thursday night off playing a variety of original rhythmic instrumental compositions, as well as some folkier dance tunes. While this latest project is all about creating songs with more complex rhythms, key changes and timing, Maxwell is resurrecting work from another lifetime as he and his cohorts keep writing.
“‘Daisy Mae’ was a song I wrote while playing in The Midatlantic,” Maxwell divulges. “I’ve dragged a few melodies and ideas from that project to create the songs I’ve been currently writing.”
There are only 250 lawn chair tickets are available for Lawn Chair Bluegrass Blowout, with an additional 50 balcony seats. Brooklyn Arts Center will have a cash bar featuring Edward Teach Beer and food truck on site.