Renowned musicians on the bill for festival

Event will also feature workshops, juried crafts, poetry, children's program

June 30, 2000

Musical legend Doc Watson and other acclaimed performers are in the lineup for the annual American Music and Arts Festival on July 8 and 9 at Carroll County Farm Museum.

Sponsored by Common Ground on the Hill, a program in residence at Western Maryland College that promotes diversity through music and the arts, the festival spotlights an eclectic range from blues to folk to bluegrass to gospel.

Watson, who will perform with Jack Lawrence on Saturday only, is a recipient of the National Medal of Arts and five-time Grammy Award-winner. An influential picker who virtually invented the art of playing mountain fiddle tunes on the flattop guitar, Watson blends his traditional Appalachian roots with bluegrass, country, gospel and blues to create a unique style. Blind since birth, he taught himself the chords to "When Roses Bloom in Dixieland" on a borrowed guitar.

The festival wraps up Common Ground's weeklong summer program, which will run Sunday to July 7 and will include workshops taught by festival performers and other artists.

"Sure, we all have differences, but we have even more in common, and we can get together through the arts and share those experiences," said Common Ground founder Walt Michael, a WMC alumnus and international folk recording artist, who will perform at the festival with Walt Michael & Co. and Sangmele.

Also joining headliner Watson at this year's festival is Bill Keith, acknowledged as one of the greatest banjo players of all time, with his innovative technique called the Keith Style. Keith played with the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe, and has appeared at Carnegie Hall as a soloist in "The Bluegrass Cantata" by P. D. Q. Bach.

Other performers include: visual and performance artist Joyce Scott; Scotland's Heather Heywood, Tom Smith and Wattie Lees; African-American folk and blues artist Sparky Rucker; Sankofa, a Baltimore-based African dance and drumming troupe; and autoharp legend Bryan Bowers.

The festival also will feature storytelling, poetry, a juried art and craft show, and a children's program.

The entertainment will begin on several stages at 10 a.m. both days, with Saturday's concerts scheduled until 9 p.m., and Sunday's events running through 5 p.m.

Each day at 3 p.m., a parade of flags will be held from the children's World Village.

On Saturday, after the music ends, a dance will be held from 9 p.m. to midnight at Carroll County Agriculture Center, next to the farm museum. Bill Weller will be the caller, and the Common Ground Concert String Band will perform.

Weekend tickets for adults are $25. Tickets are $18 for Saturday only, and $12 for Sunday only. Teens age 18 and younger will be admitted for $5 each day, and children age 12 and younger will be admitted free.

Those attending are invited to camp nearby ($5 per person per night).

For more information about the festival or a catalog of Common Ground workshops, check out, or contact Walt Michael at, or call him at 410-857-2771.

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