MARBLE — From MerleFest to MarbleFest, North Carolina’s Locust Honey String Band is seeing the country, one music festival at a time.
“We’ve gone up and down the east coast a number of times, as far north as Montreal and as far south as Georgia. We’ve gone to the Midwest a few times, and we’ve also recently been to the deep- and mid-south,” said fiddle player and guitarist Chloe Edmonstone, as she and her bandmates headed to a show at Paonia’s Revolution Brewery Wednesday.
“My personal favorite was our deep-south tour. They just really responded well to the music and were so welcoming,” she said.
Edmonstone said playing MerleFest remains a highlight for Locust Honey since forming in 2011. The annual four-day bluegrass and country festival takes place in memory of musician Eddy Merle Watson, son of folk and bluegrass guitar icon Doc Watson, on the campus of Wilkes Community College in Wilkesboro, N.C.
“So many talented and amazing musicians were playing as well, and it was an honor to be an artist alongside some of our heroes,” Edmonstone said. “Festivals are my favorite, and we’re very excited to be a part of MarbleFest.”
This week, the Asheville, North Carolina, three-piece bluegrass band traveled from Indiana to Colorado as part of a summer tour in support of its latest album, “Never Let Me Cross Your Mind.” The trio began the trek through the Centennial state in Gunnison, heading to Paonia followed by an intimate show at Steve’s Guitars in Carbondale. Locust Honey hopes to make lasting road memories at the band’s first appearance at MarbleFest, this weekend’s two-day music event starting at 11:30 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at Marble Mill Site Park.
“I don’t believe any of us have been to Marble, and two of us have never even been to Colorado,” Edmonstone said. “We’re already amazed by how different the mountains look than the Appalachians, and we’re so excited that we get to travel all of Colorado in the next few weeks, Marble included.”
Edmonstone said she and her Locust Honey bandmates, including Meredith Watson and Hilary Hawke, have incorporated all of their favorite aspects of bluegrass, old-time, country and blues into building a distinctive, harmonic sound.
“We play traditional songs as well as original material, and we all contribute our own personal styles and backgrounds into the tunes,” she said.
More recently, the band has garnered valuable experience on the road, according to Edmonstone.
“This year has been our best for musical growth and solidifying a sound. We have really found what our individual as well as collective strengths are, and we know how to work them in to our songs even better than before,” she said. “We’ve had a few lineup changes, and the sound has gone in a different direction that I’m really excited about. This is our first time touring with a bass player as opposed to getting one for our bigger gigs here and there. It really finishes the sound, and makes us play better because of that.”
Along with the old-time country and bluegrass stylings of Locust Honey, the Marble Fest 2014 lineup includes live music by Telluride’s rock and psychedelic jam band Joint Point, Colorado bluegrass quartet Blue Canyon Boys, singer-songwriter Sean McNamara, and the Smuggler Mountain Boys out of Aspen. Glenwood Springs’ Defiance String Band and the Paine Trio, featuring power bluegrass couple Don and April Paine, also play the Marble park’s scenic mountain meadow venue.
The Marble Crystal River Chamber said the two-day festival includes live music, food and arts booths, disc golf, basketball, and Upper Crystal River Valley camping. Marble Fest is a BYOB event, and glass is prohibited.
After Marble Fest, Locust Honey continues its Colorado road tour, heading to Fruita, Alamosa and Denver. Gigs in California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Virginia and Georgia are also planned.
“We’ll be in California at the end of this month, and we’ll be traveling through the southwest on the way back, which I’m looking forward to,” Edmonstone said. “We have a few great festivals planned for the fall. We’re playing Shakori Hills Grassroots Festival and Watermelon Park Festival, and another Marble Fest in Georgia. What are the odds?”