Strum und Twang 3/19/14

• Bluegrass and Baltimore go way back. Appalachian migrants flooded the city looking for work in the 1940s and '50s, bringing their hillbilly pastimes with them. Local author Tim Newby chronicles this story in his book Hard Drivin': The Story of Bluegrass in Baltimore, to be published by McFarland in late 2014. Newby interviewed many of the greats, known and lesser known, to illuminate this somewhat untold tale of Charm City as a center of the bluegrass universe. "There was Nashville and then there was Baltimore," explains bluegrass legend Del McCoury. "And Baltimore was really the hot town for bluegrass music back in the '50s and '60s."

• A fine celebration of this ongoing relationship will take place on Saturday, April 26 at the second Charm City Folk and Bluegrass Festival, now at Druid Hill Park. Headliners this year include the great Jerry Douglas, who has won too many awards to count (13 Grammys, to start). Noam Pikelny and Friends, Sierra Hull, Chris Eldridge and Julian Lage, Audie Blaylock and Redline, Cris Jacobs, and many others are also scheduled to perform. Expect a ton of sit-ins, as most of these artists know each other well. Post-festival, there's a late-night after-party at the 8x10 featuring the Everyone Orchestra, conducted by Matt Butler and including members of Gov't Mule, Railroad Earth, Greensky Bluegrass, Cabinet, Floodwood, the Bridge, and special guests, including Noam Pikelny and Chris Eldridge.

• Dex Romweber can outplay pretty much everyone in the rock and Americana fields today. He's possessed by genius (and maybe Eddie Cochran) and is stupidly underappreciated by the masses. The Dex Romweber Duo, with his sister Sara on drums, is touring in support of its new album, Image 13 (Bloodshot). Catch them at Dogfish Head Brewery in Rehoboth Beach, Del., on March 21, or in Washington D.C. at the Hamilton on March 27, opening for Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band.

• Folksinger/writer Michael Patrick Flanagan Smith has returned to Baltimore after 10 months of working in the oil fields of North Dakota. He studied his surroundings and the habits of his cohorts, and is now writing a book about the experience. Smith will be at the 1919 on March 27 drinking party liquor and singing lullabies, legends, and lies.

• Banjo master and award-winning painter John Haywood is making his way up from the hills of east Kentucky to the Windup Space on April 11. Haywood is also an amazing tattoo artist, so bring some cash and a portrait of your pitbull, and maybe you'll get lucky. Art starts at 7 p.m., music at 8 p.m., and square dancing at 9 p.m.

• Singer, songwriter, and amatuer birder Caleb Stine (pictured) is releasing his new album, Maybe God Is Lonely Too, on April 12 at the Towson Unitarian Universalist Church. His first in almost three years, it was written on the road and recorded in the confines of his Remington rowhouse. On 10 tracks, with features from the Honey Dewdrops and Dave Hadley, Stine conjures the essence of compatriots John Prine and Willie Nelson. Letitia VanSant plays with Stine. Proceeds benefit Blue Water Baltimore. (Full disclosure: S&T and Stine are friends.)

• Rambling bluesman (and native Quebecker) Ray Bonneville will be at Hill Country BBQ in Washington D.C. on April 13. He's appropriately based out of Austin now, and his last record, Bad Man's Blood, was one of S&T's favorites of 2011. He stomps out spells to a slow guitar groove like J.J. Cale's. Check out "Good Times" on his SoundCloud, and listen to that tone!

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