Toe-Tappin’ Fun with Annapolis Bluegrass at “Music in the Park”

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Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition plays in Fountain Park on Saturday, Aug 5. L-R: Mike Hartnett (Fiddle), Larry Connor (guitar & vocals), Roger Green (mandolin & vocals), Terry Wittenberg (banjo & vocals), Jim Duvall (bass fiddle)

Bring your dancing shoes for this Saturday’s Music in the Park concert featuring the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition.  The music starts at 7 p.m. in Chestertown’s Fountain Park and continues until about 8:30 p.m. One of the area’s most popular groups, Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition, combines instrumental virtuosity with close harmonies in a mixture of bluegrass standards, originals by band members and a few “out-of-genre” tunes adapted for the bluegrass style. The band will concentrate on bluegrass standards for its Chestertown set, as well as a selection of originals by band members.

The band leader and founder is Roger Green, who plays mandolin, and sings both lead and harmony vocals.  Larry Connor plays guitar and sings lead and harmony vocals.  On banjo and vocals is Terry Wittenberg. Rounding out the group are Mike Hartnett on fiddle and Jim Duvall on bass fiddle.

Roger Green – Band leader, Mandolin, Guitar and Lead/Harmony Vocals. Major bluegrass influences: Reno & Smiley, Flatt & Scruggs, Jim & Jesse, Country Gentlemen.- currently leader of Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition

Born in Washington DC, Green grew up in Silver Spring, Maryland. Green said that he has played bluegrass since he was 10 years old. He writes most of the band’s originals. He particularly likes train songs and has added several to the band’s repertoire. In his early teens and through high school, he played banjo and formed his first bluegrass band, The Mink Hollow Boys, with high school buddies.  Shortly after, Roger began playing mandolin and for a short time performed with Emerson & Waldron.  During a tour of duty in the Air Force, Roger picked with Mac & Hazel McGee who later went on to form the popular New England band,  White Mountain Bluegrass.  After being transferred, Roger worked with a Montgomery, Alabama, band called the Wry Grass Medicine Show.  Following military service,  Roger picked with local Washington DC bands, Leon Morris & AssociatesDestination BluegrassNone of The Above and Ritchie Reunion.  In the early 1990’s Roger switched back to guitar and formed a new group with Tom Gray & Fred Travers called the Gray, Green & Travers Trio.  After Fred left to join the Seldom Scene, Roger started working with pickup musicians under the name of Roger & The Real Good Pickers until finally starting the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition

Mike Hartnett – Fiddle. Major bluegrass influences: Howard Forrester, Kenny Baker.

Mike Hartnett was born in Baltimore, Maryland, and raised in Chase, Maryland. He started playing at age 12.  His early age musical influence was from his father, also Mike Hartnett, who played old time fiddle.  Mike brings over 30 years of fiddle experience with him adding a new dimension to the overall sound of the band.  His style is mostly in the traditional bluegrass vane, but he also draws from the more eclectic as well as old timey fiddle.  Mike’s first bluegrass band was Overland Express and he stayed with them from 1978 until the early 1980s.  He then did a stint with the long standing and well-known Patent Pending band and then moved on to a group known as the Lawson Brothers until the late eighties. Mike also played with other local bands such as Dean Sapp and Harford Express throughout the eighties and then reconnected with former Overland Express members in the popular Blue Daze band.  Other bands of note that Mike was a part of includes Shiloh Ridge from the York Pennsylvania area and Blue Train.  He is also much in demand as a fill in musician for groups such as Foggy Hollow and Across The Track.

Terry Wittenberg – Banjo and Lead/Tenor/High Baritone Vocals. Major bluegrass influences: Bill Emerson, Ben Eldridge

Born in Baltimore, MD and raised in Silver Spring, MD, Terry Wittenberg started his musical interest at age 7 with the guitar. During his high school years, Terry played rock guitar and was heavily influence by the early blues recordings of Eric Clapton. He was also a fan of country singer Buck Owens and learned how to sing tenor by emulating Buck’s tenor singer, Don Rich.  Terry was introduced to bluegrass during an evening at the Red Fox Inn, where he saw Bill Emerson playing banjo, and he knew right then that banjo was what he wanted to play. Going full steam into bluegrass, he was a founding member of the popular Washington DC group, None of the Above. He also played with Southgate and Overland Express. Later he fronted his own band, NewGrass Effect.  Terry is frequently called on to fill in with different bluegrass bands, and occasionally would work with the Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition. In spring of 2014, Terry became a member of Annapolis Bluegrass. He brings a new dynamic to the Annapolis Bluegrass vocal mix that includes lead, tenor and high baritone. He contributes significantly to the hard driving sound that Annapolis Bluegrass is noted for and has a keen sense of originality in his approach to the banjo. Terry also has a unique capability of recognizing songs from different genre’s that will fit well into bluegrass. The tunes and songs that he introduces to the band helps keep the Annapolis Bluegrass repertoire fresh, relevant and exciting.

Larry Conner – Guitar and Lead/Harmony vocals. Major Influences: Osborne Bros., Flatt and Scruggs, New Grass Revival, J.D. Crowe, Tony Rice, parking lot picking at Sunset Park in Pennsylvania and Watermelon Park in Virginia 

 

Larry Connor was born in Baltimore and grew up in Perry Hall, Maryland. Larry started playing guitar at age 10.  Coming from a family whose roots are from the Floyd County area of Virginia, it was natural for him to learn Bluegrass and old time music at an early age. His father played guitar, banjo, and sang along with his brother, uncles, cousins, and other relatives including his grandmother.  Larry has played Bluegrass with local musicians and family members throughout his entire life. At the early age of 18 he was singing with the Floyd County Boys and then The Conner Brothers Band along with his cousins Tommy, Mickey, and John Conner on two of their albums.  For many years, Larry continued to develop his guitar chops playing country and country rock with the Baltimore based band Dakota until 2010 when he teamed up with Bill Runkle and Smith Hollow.  In early 2017, Larry became a member of The Annapolis Bluegrass Coalition doing what comes naturally; picking bluegrass guitar and singing high lonesome songs.

Jim Duvall – Bass Fiddle. Major bluegrass influences: Jim & Jesse, Seldom Scene, Country Gazette 

Jim Duvall “keeps everyone honest” with the steady beat of his bass fiddle. A veteran of many bands in different styles, Jim also takes an occasional bass solo on instrumental numbers. He was born in Washington DC, though he grew up in Burtonsville, Maryland.  Although he has been playing music all his life, Annapolis Bluegrass is his first stint as a bluegrass and acoustic bass player.  His musical background goes back more than thirty years and includes clarinet, electric guitar in a Motown band called Louie & the Uptights, and much more recently electric bass for a top 40s country band called Southern  Pride.   He plays an S-Model Kay bass, the perfect instrument for the lower registers of bluegrass music.  

For more information, visit the Annapolis Bluegrass website.

Music in the Park performances begin at 7 p.m. in Fountain Park and run until about 8:30. Annapolis Bluegrass is always one of the best-attended performances of the series and a limited number of seats are available. Audience members are advised to bring folding chairs or blankets.

In the event of rain, the performance will be held in Emmanuel Episcopal Church, on Cross Street opposite the park.

Music in the Park is sponsored by the town of Chestertown, with support from the Kent County Arts Council and community contributions. There is no charge for admission to the concerts, but donations to support the program are encouraged.

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