By Eva Potter
The Lodge at Holiday Valley has been filled with music many times before, but April 11–13, 2014, it will be filled with the lonesome, soulful sounds of bluegrass at the first Holiday Valley Mountain Music Festival.
The three-day spring event will be filled with workshops and concerts by noted bands Frank Solivan and Dirty Kitchen and Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line, who will fill the lodge with acoustic Americana music.
The festival is organized by Rick Manning, director and festival fonder of the Winter Village Bluegrass Festival in Ithaca, N.Y., along with Jane Eshbaugh, marketing director for Holiday Valley, and Rich Sandler, general manager of the Tamarack Club.
Asked how he came up with a bluegrass festival at Holiday Valley, Manning recounted his stay at the Inn at Holiday Valley on one of his recent trips to Ellicottville. He noticed the beautiful accommodations and the spectacular Holiday Valley Lodge, which led to thoughts that this would make a great venue for a bluegrass event similar to his Ithaca festival.
He and Eshbaugh began brainstorming and together they dreamed up the first bluegrass festival at Holiday Valley. They settled on an April weekend and immediately began preparations.
“I’ve been very impressed by Ellicottville and the entrepreneurial spirit. People dive in and make it happen,” Manning said.
He said evening concerts are planned for Friday and Saturday nights, as well as workshops on Saturday. Sunday morning will be “a little bit more laid back” with more music.
“It’s important to understand that the people who come to these events … a lot of times are players and they like to play … they can listen and hang out and jam with their friends. That’s a big part of the festival culture,” explained Manning, who plays the fiddle and mandolin in two bands.
Workshops will give attendees a unique opportunity to interact with the bands.
Manning said, “Workshops are a place where you can sit down with a mandolin player or guitarist and learn a few tips, ask questions and hear them demonstrate things up close.”
Concert performances will take place on the second floor of lodge. If the weather is conducive, it’s possible some performances will be held outside.
The lineup of bands for the first Mountain Music Festival is filled with award-winning talent. Frank Solivan has been described as “monster mandolinist.” He and his band have become major festival attractions, and earned 2012 and 2013 Best Bluegrass Band honors from the Washington Area Music Association.
Manning said, “They’re a great band. I had them at my festival last year and the people really enjoyed them.”
Nora Jane Struthers & The Party Line is a high-energy, Nashville-based quintet that performs Struthers’ original story-songs. In 2010, Struthers led her band to a blue ribbon at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival band competition.
“Struthers is another young, talented songwriter,” said Manning, who has heard the band perform.
Manning will also be playing with one of his two bands that weekend.
Lodging packages are available at Tamarack Club, a condo/hotel next to the Holiday Valley Lodge that offers gorgeous view of the Holiday Valley ski slopes and golf course. Accommodations also have easy access to John Harvard’s Brew House and Restaurant, Falling Waters Spa, sauna and hot tubs, an indoor/outdoor heated pool and fitness room.
Ticket prices will be announced soon and will be available for the entire weekend as well as for individual concerts. For more information, call (716) 699-2345 or visit www.holidayvalley.com.