DelFest, the Maryland festival produced in conjunction with and honor of Bluegrass legend Del McCoury, has to be one of the most renowned Bluegrass festivals on the east coast. As promised with each year, the Del McCoury Band invited a 2019 lineup saturated in string: The Stringcheese Incident, Railroad Earth, Kitchen Dwellers, Trampled by Turtles, Yonder Mountain String Band…the list goes on.
That is…the list went on until readers hit the notorious acronym at its end: TBA. To Be Announced. It always holds such mystery nestled into a lineup. Who could it be? Did someone drop out last minute? Will we get a famous name or some new blood?
Just a week before the festival, DelFesters got their answer, and PA bluegrass fans rejoiced. Bethlehem string quartet Serene Green would fill the Sunday slot.
The four-piece comprising of Michael Johnson (guitar), Quentin Fisher (mandolin), Shane McGeehan (bass), and Steve Leonard (banjo) are no strangers to DelFest, attending the last three years to enjoy the music and pick around the campsite grounds.
Following the announcement they wrote to fans that having their name on the lineup is “something [they’ve] dreamed of since [they] came together in early 2017.” Their Sunday set—which you can listen to here—was a healthy balance of traditional bluegrass tunes sprinkled with originals from their 2017 album, To Whom it Pertains.
A week later a poll emerged on the DelFest’s Facebook fan group, Deltopia, asking festival goers to place their vote on the best new act of this year. Hundreds of votes were cast, and the 2019 Dillie Award went to Serene Green with 168 votes—just eclipsing their new friends Jakob’s Ferry Stragglers’ 136.
Anyone around the Eastern PA Bluegrass scene knows that this acknowledgment comes well deserved. Between full tour schedules and producing new music—watch out for their new album set to be released later this month—Serene Green’s climb up the latter is both quick and consistent. And it’s been a pleasure to watch this group grow since our last conversation in 2017.