Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival
Sept. 4, 5 and 6 at Terrapin Hill Farm, 3696 Mackville Rd., Harrodsburg. $50, $95 ($5 parking). Terrapinhillfestivals.com/directions.html
From a purely musical standpoint, there are few surer signs fall is at hand than the return of Terrapin Hill Harvest Festival.
Now a fixture of Labor Day weekend, the event has become one of the region's foremost jam band-related gatherings. The jam tag tends to be a generalization, though. Genre giants like Mickey Hart (of the Grateful Dead), 7 Walkers (featuring the Dead's Bill Kreutzmann), Ivan Neville's Dumpstafunk and Karl Denson have performed at the festival.
But the lineups also have included progressive-minded acoustic artists with varying ties to bluegrass. Among them are David Grisman, Tony Rice, Railroad Earth and the Infamous Stringdusters.
This year's roster sports roosty street grooves from New Orleans, one of bluegrass music's most celebrated and versatile bands and a blast of modern funk out of Cincinnati. Here are the headline acts that will set the pace for this year's Terrapin Hill festival.
■ Bonerama (Friday headliner): For more than 15 years, Bonerama has been a potent though distinctive force in the preservation of New Orleans music and a principal voice in bringing it to new generations of audiences.
As the name suggests, the band's organic funk drive is propelled by a trio of trombonists (Mark Mullins, Craig Klein and Greg Hicks). What emerges is a sound that crosses multiple decades to suggest the soul-funk summoned in the 1970s by The Meters and the more rockish second-line grinds designed in the '80s by The Radiators. Not surprisingly, Meters bassist George Porter Jr. and Radiators guitarist Dave Malone helped out on Bonerama's 2013 album Shake It Baby, as did with Orleans funk patriarch Dr. John and R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills.
The latter is returning a favor as Bonerama's "bone" section assisted on R.E.M.'s final studio album, 2011's Collapse Into Now. Bonerama also has collaborated with OKGo, Tom Morello, Wayne Kramer of MC5, Jill Sobule and Sierra Leone's Refugee All-Stars.
■ The Travelin' McCourys (Saturday headliner): It's easy to be unfamiliar with the music of the Travelin' McCourys. For as long as the group has been touring, it has yet to release a recording solely under its own name (although it was co-billed with jam-band song stylist Keller Williams on the 2012 release Pick). That's because the ensemble more formally records as The Del McCoury Band, the prize-winning bluegrass troupe that headlined the Harvest Festival in 2009. The Travelin' McCourys refers to an incarnation of the ensemble with father Del sitting out and sons Ronnie and Rob at the helm.
The Terrapin gig is one of two major regional appearances by the Travelin' McCourys this fall. The band will visit Lexington to co-headline a free outdoor performance with Town Mountain at Robert F. Stephens Courthouse Plaza on Oct. 28 for Breeders' Cup Festival Week.
■ Freekbass (Sunday headliner): Out of Cincinnati, the city that unleashed groove merchant Bootsy Collins into the funk world, comes Freekbass.
A popular Lexington club draw for years, Freekbass has collaborated with the likes of Collins, Phish bassist Mike Gordon, P-Funk/Talking Heads keyboardist Bernie Worrell, DJ Spooky and, on Freekbass's new Everybody's Feelin' Real album, Trey Anastasio Band vocalist/trumpeter Jennifer Hartwick. Lexington's own Duane Lundy produced the record locally at his Shangri-La studio.
For a full festival schedule, go to Terrapinhillfestivals.com.