Music Fest Set For Return To Sherman Farmland

The 26th annual Great Blue Heron Music Festival will be held at the rural Blue Heron grounds, located at 2361 Waits Corners Road in Sherman this weekend, featuring live music from Friday through Sunday. P-J file photos

SHERMAN — A piece of Sherman farmland is once again preparing to become the gathering place for thousands of people looking to take in their first summer music festival in Chautauqua County.

The 26th annual Great Blue Heron Music Festival is right around the corner, and attendees of all ages and experience levels are feeling the anticipation of experiencing their own “Happy Heron.” The festival will take place over a three-day period running Friday through Sunday.

When gates open at 9 a.m. Friday, the rural Blue Heron grounds, located at 2361 Waits Corners Road in Sherman, will quickly transform from spacious countryside into a makeshift metropolis comprised of dedicated campers and music appreciators of all ages and backgrounds. Co-founded by Julie Rockcastle — who owns the Blue Heron grounds property with her husband, Steve — and David Tidquist, festival coordinators are sticking with the successful formula that has propelled the event beyond its humble origins in 1992.

While each year brings a few new things into the mix, the focus remains on maintaining the familiar elements that have been bringing music lovers back to the Heron for more than a quarter-century: music, dance and the celebration of the human spirit.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine being part of something that has had such a positive impact on so many lives,” said Julie Rockcastle, who, along with her husband, raises grass-fed cows and organic shiitake mushrooms on the land.

“When we started this thing in 1992, we never expected it would have gone on nearly this long,” Tidquist said. “But after three or four years, it started growing faster than we were ready for. After a while, we caught up with the system and now we have a reputation for being one of the best organized festivals of our type in the area.”

Live music will be the featured component of the festival, being held each day of the festival on three separate stages: the main stage, the dance tent, and at the Tiger Maple Stage located in the woods adjacent to the main area. Of note among performers this year are Donna the Buffalo, which has performed at the festival every single year since the latter’s conception. This year, the band will play two sets drawn from their own catalog of original songs, as well as backing up Compass recording artist and two-time GRAMMY Award- winner Jim Lauderdale — with whom Donna the Buffalo collaborated on the 2003 album “Wait ‘Til Spring.”

Among the acts making their Great Blue Heron debut are: Signature Sounds recording artist The Suitcase Junket, a one-man tour de force out of Amherst, Mass.; the rowdy Texas roots trio The Urban Pioneers; country supergroup Western Centuries; Cleveland swamp pop band Cats on Holiday; and the spirited sounds of South Carolina’s Reggae Infinity.

Other bands making return visits include Pittsburgh’s Rusted Root, who celebrated the release of their debut CD “Cruel Sun” at the first Great Blue Heron festival. Three veteran bands from Ithaca make command performances, as well: The Gunpoets, Sim Redmond Band, and Big Mean Sound Machine. Local favorites Smackdab, The Probables, and Funktional Flow represent the Chautauqua region, along with many others.

Also included in this year’s lineup are: Jim Donovan and the Sun King Warriors; Preach Freedom and Connect; Sunny Weather; Tiger Maple String Band; Mt. Pleasant String Band; Laila Belle; Stewed Mulligan; Max Garcia Conover; Charlie Wheeler Band; Bryan Moore and DirtTrackRacing; Derek Davis Band; Bess Greenberg Music; Uncle Ben’s Remedy; Addison Moon; PA Line; The Bogarts; Ken Hardley Music and the Moose Club; The Stan Barton Trio; John Merino; Buffalo Zydeco; Jeb and Tara; Glabicki and Miller; Ezekiel’s Wheel; and Tyler Smilo.

Presale tickets are still available in the form of weekend passes for $95, which are $110 at the gate. Youth tickets are $50 and children under 12 are free. One-day passes are also available at $45, $50 and $40 for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

For tickets or more information, visit greatblueheron.com or find “The Great Blue Heron Music Festival 2017” on Facebook.

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