Mama Said String Band and Rumpke Mountain Boys lead ‘laid back’ lineup for Hartford Festival

By Matt Wickstrom

Mama Said String Band. Photo by Tessa Colley Photography.

BEAN BLOSSOM, Ind. — The John Hartford Memorial Festival, better known as the “Most laid back festival in America,” has revealed the initial list of artists to perform at its 9th annual gathering, led by Great American Taxi,  Cincinnati’s Rumpke Mountain Boys and Louisville’s Mama Said String Band. The gathering will be held from May 29 to June 1, 2019, at Bill Monroe’s Music Park in Bean Blossom, Indiana.

Joining the aforementioned artists are the Tim O’Brien Band, Della Mae, Larry Keel Experience, Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands, The Special Consensus, Barbaro, Bumper Jacksons, Chicago Farmer Band, Chris Dollar, Ernie Hill, Fireside Collective, Flatland Harmony Experiment, Glade City Rounders, JigJam, Ragged Union, Strung Like A Horse, The Matchsellers’ “Bluegrastronauts”, The New Old Cavalry, The Tillers, The Way Down Wanderers, The Wayfarers, Two High String Band and Wood & Wire. Additional artists will be announced soon.

For Louisville-based Mama Said String Band, the announcement marks the second time the female-fronted quintet will appear at the festival following a runner-up finish at the festival’s band competition in 2018. The group’s clear strength is its harmonies, led by the long-time combination of Kaitlen Farmer (guitar) and Adlai Filiatreau (banjo), but its instrumentals have tightened up in recent months with Steph Kidd on mandolin, Kaitlyn Caudill on upright bass and David O’Neal on fiddle following a string of high-profile gigs that included playing for at a concert series hosted by Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer and opening for The Ghost of Paul Revere and Blair Crimmins & The Hookers.

Making their return to Hartford Fest for the sixth time is the Rumpke Mountain Boys (2011, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2017). Blending heavy influences of jam into their string-based repertoire, Rumpke Mountain Boys are the quintessential live band, reaching for maximum improvisation and feeding off the crowd’s energy to foster an atmosphere that few other bluegrass acts can match. The band will stop in Lexington on Nov. 30 for a show at The Burl.

For more information on the John Hartford Memorial Festival, visit

Poster by Jon Griffin


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