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Be Careful! You Might Just Catch the Bluegrass Bug at this Festival

The Moment you step in the door at the Bellevue Hyatt Regency, you know that Wintergrass is not your usual festival.

So there's four days of music. There's five stages, but there's music everywhere; in the elevators and in the lobbies, everywhere.

Most people who come to Wintergrass also play music," said Patrice O'Neill, executive director and artistic director of the festival. "And one of the reasons that they come is so that they can play with their friends."

If you're not a bluegrass aficionado, chances are, you've never heard of any of the 'big bands' playing the festival.

"People call me up every year and say well who are the famous people, who are the headline people and then I'll tell them and it's like well I've never heard of them - exactly!" said O'Neill. "Most people are never going to have heard of the people on the headline list. But if you are in the know you would know Hot Rize. You would know Tim O'Brien. If you were really hard core you would know Danny Paisley."

But the real action is upstairs in what they call the "Jam Corridor". This is where people, often complete strangers can drop in for an impromptu jam session. Wintergrass has something for everyone, whether you've played the banjo for forty years, or you're just four-years-old.

"We have a pretty vigorous education program for kids," said O'Neill. "That's my favorite, cause it's kids and we're turning on these kids to playing music for a lifetime. It's not something that your parents made you do till you're eighteen and it's like I'm over that you know. It's like - oh I can do that! I can do that till I'm 97 and it's great!"

Whenever you catch the bluegrass bug, it seems to grab hold for a lifetime.


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