OYC NEWS: Outer Banks Bluegrass

The annual Outer Banks Island Bluegrass Festival, one of OYC cruisers’ most anticipated events of the season, was held in Manteo the weekend of Oct 2nd, 2018. For five years running, music lovers from across the country have flocked to stunningly beautiful Roanoke Island Festival Park situated along the banks of the Roanoke Sound to enjoy nearly non-stop music from local and nationally acclaimed artists. The music ranges from bluegrass-style covers of various artists, from Jimmy Hendricks to the Beach Boys, to pure bluegrass jams reflecting the uniquely American blue-grass tradition.

Four OYC boats cruised across the Albemarle Sound and docked at the tranquil Manteo Waterfront Marina. Situated along the left bank of the festival park, the marina is so close to the venue that we could hear the music from our boats. We were joined by several AP residents who drove their land yachts from Hertford to attend the festival.

In addition to the festival, the group met for “docktails” on the dock and dinner at the Avenue Waterfront Grill. We shopped at the Manteo waterfront and attended the Manteo First Friday, an evening street festival providing mu-sic, art, and entertainment held on the first Friday of each month in downtown Manteo. Some of Albemarle Plantation’s artists were featured at the festival. Joan and Bruce Behrend had glass artwork on display, and Annmarie Pomp’s artwork was also featured.

One of our favorite weekend activities was a tour of the Kill Devil Rum distillery. Kill Devil Rum is the Outer Banks’ only distillery, and the tour is both informative and entertaining. Most importantly, the rum is very tasty. While the distillery has only been in business four years, it has already won several international awards. The entrepreneurial spirit of artisans at Kill Devil Rum Distillery was an inspiration for us all.

The OYC boaters chose to at-tend the festival on Saturday. Early in the day we carried our lawn chairs the short distance across the Festival Park Bridge and staked a claim on the lawn in front of the stage. The open-air stage is perched on the banks of the Roanoke Sound, so the cool breeze flows across the stage, and the view of the water through the stage is breathtaking. Once settled in the park, the group took advantage of the vendor and food booths surrounding the park and walked in and out of the park throughout the day. Most of the group made sure they were back in their seats for the main event.

The headliner for Saturday evening was the Grammy Award-winning Nashville group SteelDrivers, and their performance was truly phenomenal. They jokingly refer to their music as “uneasy listening,” presumably because of the dark subject matter of some of their songs (Guitars, Whiskey, Guns and Knives is a fan favorite). However, their music, ranging from soulful ballads to lively country-bluegrass songs with hints of classic rock was very easy to listen to. A highlight for me was an impromptu a cappella gospel piece performed by vocalist/fiddler/songwriter Tammy Rogers, a founding member of SteelDrivers. While the other group members sorted out a broken banjo string off-stage, Rogers delivered an inspirational, original gospel piece, with her fiddle as her only accompaniment.

Early Sunday morning the boats pulled up lines and got underway as the sun rose over the marina. Some of us headed back to the Plantation, while others cruised back via Ocracoke Island. Next year the festival is scheduled for late May, so mark your calendars and join us in Manteo.