Circa Blue will perform at the Bonanza Extravaganza this weekend

May 09, 2012|By CRYSTAL SCHELLE |
  • Members of Circa Blue  from left, Matt Hickman, Ron Webb, Steve Harris and Dave Harris  have released a debut album this year of originals and covers.
Submitted photo

During the weekdays, Steve Harris of Martinsburg, W.Va., is at the helm of his residential commercial contracting company.

But many weeknights and most weekends, the 42-year-old can be found strumming away on his guitar as part of the band Circa Blue.

Founded by Harris nearly two years ago, Circa Blue has been making the musical circuits, playing gigs and entertaining listeners with their distinctive style of music.

“We’re a progressive bluegrass band,” Harris said during a telephone interview from Shepherdstown, W.Va. “We write a lot of the music we perform. The covers that we do, we try to be unique with them. We make them Circa Blue style.”

On Saturday, Circa Blue will play at the Bonanaza Extravaganza at the Hagerstown Speedway, west of Hagerstown. The Bonanza Extravaganza starts Friday night and continues all day Saturday.

Harris started playing music when he was 14, after his father brought home two guitars, a mandolin, a Dobro, a bass and a banjo for his brood of four. Harris started leaning toward the guitar, Dobro and banjo, which lead to the Harris Family Band. There he played alongside his brother, Dave Harris of Hedgesville, W.Va., who now plays bass in Circa Blue.

Music was always a part of Harris’ life, but when his father brought home the instruments, that’s when he said he really started to play. He continued to play for years, but as his focus shifted to other demands in his life, music stopped.

In 2007, after a trip to a nearby bluegrass festival Harris decided to take up music again. He started playing a few stints with other bands, but Harris felt he wanted his own band.

“I made the big leap,” he said.

In 2010, Harris founded Circa Blue.

“There’s a whole huge business side to this. Already having been in business, I decided it was something I wanted to try. And I tell you, I’ve never looked back and just couldn’t be happier,” he said.

Circa Blue — which also includes mandolin player Ron Webb of Greencastle, Pa., banjo player Matt Hickman of Chambersburg, Pa., and fiddler Jon Glik of Baltimore — plays bluegrass with a more progressive twist. An example of their work can be found on their self-titled debut album. Sample tracks are available on the group’s website

“We try to do stuff that feeds our music souls,” Harris said.

Because the band is really trying to do something different, it’s hard for Harris to pick out just one song on their album that represents who they are as a band.

“The thing about the album, it kind of exemplifies who we are,” he said. “Circa means ‘approximately’ and ‘about.’ It’s hard to pigeonhole us.”

There’s also the unexpected on the album. One surprise is “Annabelle,” a song written by folk artist Gillian Welsh, which Circa Blue put their bluegrass stamp on.

“This album, really, you don’t listen to these songs in succession to get a feel for us,” he said. “It’s across the board, that’s really who we are. ... The songs are a compilation of who we are.”

Harris said he and the rest of the band members don’t look at Circa Blue as a part-time hobby. He calls it “a labor of love.”

“We practice during the week. We are very driven. We take this seriously,” he said. “If people pay good money to hear us, we want to entertain them and give them their money’s worth.”

Harris said the goal for Circa Blue is to keep playing good music and getting good venues to play in and see where it goes. He said they want to become a serious regional band, and hope to work up to 40 to 50 shows this year, while they all still work their day jobs.

The Bonanaza Extravaganza is one of the many venues the band will play this year. Harris said he likes to perform in small intimate venues as well as ones with a larger audience.

“There’s no drug like standing up onstage and playing for a thousand people (who) are applauding your music breaks. It’s euphoric,” he said.

Those who haven’t seen Circa Blue perform, Harris is promising a set of “high-energy progressive bluegrass.”

And as for the Bonanza Extravaganza, Harris said the band’s looking forward to playing at the event, which features music, food and big ticket raffles.

“We desperately need a tour bus,” he said with a laugh. “We’re hoping they’re raffling off a tour bus.”


Tickets cost $100 per person; only one $20 guest ticket per person.

Hagerstown Speedway, 15112 National Pike, Hagerstown.

Go to

Friday, May 11

2 p.m. — parking gates open

5 p.m. — event gates, vendors and beer sales open

Live entertainment:

6 to 7:45 p.m. — Crush Theory

8:30 to 10 p.m. — Hicktown

10:30 to 11:15 p.m. — Hicktown

Big Friday Night Money drawing: 20 winners will collect $1,000

Drawing begins at 10 p.m. (must be in attendance)

One ticket given per person upon entry to event.

11 p.m. — admission gates, beer sales, vendors and gaming close

Saturday May 12, 2012

8 a.m. — parking gates open

10 a.m. — event gates open

Noon — drawings begin; attendance optional for Saturday’s drawing

Noon to 7 p.m. — Catered meal (included with ticket purchase)

Live entertainment:

Noon to 1:40 p.m. — Circa Blue

2 to 3:40 p.m. — Skweez Play

4 to 5:40 p.m. — Moon Dog Medicine Show

6 to 7:40 p.m. — Hicktown

9:15 to 11 p.m. — Back in Black

9:15 to 11 p.m. — DVK Entertainment’s High Energy Dance Party

10 p.m. — gaming closes

11 p.m. — admission gates, beer sales and vendors close

Submitted photo
Members of Circa Blue — from left, Matt Hickman, Ron Webb, Steve Harris and Dave Harris — have released a debut album this year of originals and covers.

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