Free-spirited at its core, the eighth annual Kingman Island Bluegrass and Folk Festival last Saturday rallied supporters once again. Benefiting the Living Classrooms Foundation, the occasion is one worth noting as a must-attend yearly event. The collection of local bands handpicked by past performers inspired a camaraderie among attendees, and there was a sense of freeness at this festival allowing one to explore and find hidden gems.
Often during a music festival, attendees cram to see the headlining acts and overlook the intricate joys of the festival grounds. In stark contrast, elation manifested in a truly organic fashion on Kingman Island. Though the lineup packed a heavy punch with headliners Frank Solivan & Dirty Kitchen, Town Mountain, and Dom Flemons, if you happened to wander under a graffiti-decorated bridge adjacent to the Anacostia River, you certainly weren’t disappointed to hear the enchanting sounds of an impromptu performance by unaffiliated artists. Sharing in a once-in-a-lifetime moment of soulful melodies and heartwarming lyrics, one easily found solace, leaving them wanting more.
There was free-flowing beer, kayaking, leashed dogs roaming and children enjoying the simplest things such as playing in mud. Peace comes to mind; an odd sense of peace. All were in sync, “vibing” to the synergistic performance of The War and Treaty. It was magical. As the crowd danced passionately, they were uncontainable but not unruly. It was the perfect combination of philanthropy and entertainment.
But the champion of the festival was Kingman Island’s director and member of two-time festival performing group Blue Plains, Lee Cain. Before and after a well-received set, Cain could be found operating heavy machinery to manage intense mud conditions (necessary for spring growing season on the island), welcoming former Mayor Vincent “Vince” Gray, and carrying every permit needed to ensure a successful and safe event. When asked about the reasoning behind bluegrass and folk music as the genres of choice for the festival, Cain said there’s a certain energy on Kingman Island that is evoked by these genres, but he also hopes to bring music like jazz and R&B, and even hip-hop, to the festival.
Kingman Island’s Bluegrass and Folk Festival was indeed true to form, surpassing all expectations. The marketing was evident as all understood the importance of this event and the cause it supported. Many spoke of the children impacted and lives being changed, and look forward to returning next year.
Learn more about Kingman here.
Photos below by Langford Wiggins