Aspen Institute to host bluegrass concert Sunday
QUEENSTOWN — The Aspen Institute will host its Fall Concert on Sunday, Sept. 18, at 3 p.m. at the Inn at River House on the Institute’s Wye River campus off Carmichael Road in Queenstown. The concert will feature Blue Octane Bluegrass Band, a Maryland-based acoustical group of five artists with more than 100 combined years of performing bluegrass music. Blue Octane’s band members hail from Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Maryland and include fiddler Jeff Westerinen, guitarist John Brown, mandolin player David Robertson, bassist Andrea Westerinen and banjoist Dean Phillips.
“We are excited to welcome the Blue Octane Bluegrass Band to the Institute’s Wye River campus,” said Judy Price, Aspen Wye campus manager. “Our guests are sure to enjoy the powerhouse vocals, expressive ballad singing and lively banjo, mandolin and fiddle instrumental performances of these extremely talented musicians.”
The concert program will include the group’s original works as well as pieces written and originally performed by bluegrass greats like Bill Monroe, often considered to be the “father of bluegrass music.” More contemporary numbers from renowned musicians such as Doyle Lawson and J.D. Crowe will also be performed.
Fiddler Jeff Westerinen played extensively in regional bands from New York, South Carolina and Washington State before returning to his native Maryland in 2014. He is a veteran of the five-time New York State champion Yankee Rebels, and the International Bluegrass Music Champion of 2000, the Ohop Valley Boys.
Guitarist John Brown grew up around bluegrass music, having acquired his first guitar at age 8. Two years later he started playing bass with his father’s band, The One Way Express Bluegrass Gospel Band. Brown has been a member of the well-known bluegrass band Ivan Sexton and the Delaware Valley Boys and has performed several times at the Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival.
David Robertson also started playing music at a young age, singing in church and playing the mandolin with his father in West Virginia. Considered one of the foremost tenors in the region, he has recently joined Blue Octane Bluegrass Band.
Bassist Andrea Westerinen has performed in Florida, South Carolina, Washington State and Maryland for over 25 years, and also contributes heartfelt vocals to the group’s performances. She has played with award-winning groups at numerous bluegrass festivals throughout the country.
Banjoist Dean Phillips is known for playing the five-string banjo in the style of bluegrass greats J.D. Crowe and Earl Scruggs. He performs throughout Maryland and Pennsylvania and is a frequent guest banjoist with the renowned bluegrass band, Danny Paisley and the Southern Grass.
Bluegrass music is known for its percussive backbeat, syncopated three-finger method of banjo playing and precision three- and fourpart vocal harmonies. A dynamic genre of music, it draws influences from African-American blues, Scots-Irish fiddling and American country music.
The concert is sponsored by the Aspen Wye Fellows and the Friends of Wye, support groups of the Institute and its Wye River campus. A reception will follow.
The concert is free with a limited number of seats available to the general public. Seats may be reserved by calling Mary Ann Dodd at 410-820-5433. To learn more about the Aspen Wye Fellows Program, which features monthly discussions with diplomats, influential policymakers and world thought leaders, contact Judy Price at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 410-8205432.
Blue Octane Bluegrass Band performs at a recent concert at Westminster Hall in Baltimore City.