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Leitersburg Peach Festival: A sweet time

August 09, 2000

Leitersburg Peach Festival: A sweet time



By KEVIN CLAPP / Staff Writer


Leitersburg Peach Festival veteran Jay Armsworthy has a simple reason why he returns to the event to play his music as often as possible: the atmosphere.

"I like the people. When I was back there with Earnie (Bradley), I met a lot of friends in the area," said Armsworthy, of California, Md. "And the peaches are good. They have good, homemade peach ice cream."

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Armsworthy first played the peach festival with Bradley and his Frederick, Md.-based band, Grassy Ridge; this weekend, Armsworthy's own quartet, Eastern Tradition, will offer a mix of bluegrass and traditional country music Saturday, Aug. 12

Sunday, Aug. 13, Long Lonesome Highway will entertain visitors to the 21st annual festival with its mix of traditional country favorites. In addition, there will be the usual mix of arts, crafts, a petting zoo, Civil War encampment and Leitersburg history exhibit.

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Oh, yeah: and peaches. Lots of peaches, including cobblers, pies, ice cream, tea and fruit straight from the tree.

And while the sweet desserts may be cool to taste, the stage will be smoking while both four-man bands present a decidedly old-school sound for the festivities. With few exceptions, both bands prefer the classic twang of Hank Williams Sr. to the more contemporary flare of the Dixie Chicks.

"We've all come from different backgrounds, and it seems to be the kind of music we enjoy the most," said Long Lonesome Highway founder Gene Roads. "Most of the songs have a good story behind them, and to me it's real music. There are some really good musicians that play traditional music.

"The two lead players I have, they do quite a bit of twin stuff where they're playing together in harmony, and you don't hear much of that with the contemporary (music)."

Aside from younger artists such as George Strait, Alan Jackson and a handful of others, Roads and Armsworthy said today's music doesn't compare to veteran acts such as George Jones.

In this busy time of year, both bands are typically on the road every weekend playing fairs and festivals across the northeast. It's a way of life where the musicians pile in their van or camper and lumber up the road sharing stories and having a good time while making their way from gig to gig.

And when they're on stage, anything can happen.

"With old-time country and bluegrass, we never know what's going to come out next. We get a whole lot of different things that go on at our show," Armsworthy said.

Similarly, Roads hopes peach festival visitors who stop to listen to Long Lonesome Highway take away an appreciation for the music the band plays because they like making the rounds to share their music.

"We just enjoy the fairs and festivals and try to get to as many of them as we can," he said. "I hope they enjoy themselves, that they were entertained and maybe we played one of their favorites."

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