by JAMES ZIEGLER & r & & r & & lt;span class= & quot;dropcap & quot; & T & lt;/span & his weekend as a gentle breeze blows through, carrying the tune of banjos, don't be afraid to shake your ass. The time has come for the annual Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival, the Medical Lake fest that always features a nice mix of national and local acts. All said, 19 bands will perform over the three-day weekend, not including those inclined to take part in open-mic sessions on Friday and Saturday. It's a lot to wade through, so here are some highlights.
"Bluegrass" conjures images of people sitting on a country porch somewhere down South, fiddlin' and a-pickin' at the banjo.
The Southern states may be the ancestral home of bluegrass, but the Greencards prove that growing up there isn't a requirement to play. These three dynamic musicians immigrated from the far ends of the world (England and Australia) to find themselves in Austin.
The Greencards, composed of Carol Young, Kym Warner and Eamon McLoughlin, share their upbeat and catchy blend of bluegrass Saturday, 9 pm and Sunday, 3 pm.
The Kenny and Amanda Smith Band
This husband-and-wife duet sings a brand of gospel that could make the devil cry. With soothing harmonies and beautiful acoustic plucking, these two aren't a pair to be discounted.
Kenny Smith is a two-time International Bluegrass Music Association's Guitarist of the Year and Amanda has been singing, she says, since "even before I can remember."
They met at a Lonesome River Band concert. While they're two great musicians individually, the Smiths are at their best together, having earned the IBMA's Emerging Artist of the Year award in 2003. They'll perform all three days of the festival: Friday at 9 pm, Saturday at 8 pm and Sunday at noon.
With her mournful voice and unusual plucking style -- best demonstrated in her song "Up the River" -- Rachel Harrington stands out from the rest of the crowd.
Harrington has taken an odd route through her career. Radio hits before she had graced a single stage and opening for Grammy winners before she ever released a complete album may justify her backwards ways -- but after many awards and rave reviews, this small-town girl must be doing something right.
Harrington, an Oregon native, will appear as a duet with Zak Borden on Friday at 8 pm and on Saturday at 1 pm.
The Infamous Stringdusters
Banjo-plucking and fiddling around to a happy barn-dance beat, the Infamous Stringdusters are bluegrass through and through.
The Infamous musicians are well known for their ability to woo crowds; they make friends and fans wherever they play.
Infamous though the Stringdusters may be, they are coming out of an award-winning year. Their debut album received the IBMA's Album of the Year, the title track off the album got Song of the Year, and the Stringdusters themselves earned the Best Emerging Artist award.
The Stringdusters -- Andy Hall, Andy Falco, Jesse Cobb, Jeremy Garrett, Chris Pandolfi and Travis Book -- will serve up their best bluegrass on Sunday evening at 4 pm.
Blue Waters Bluegrass Festival at Waterfront Park on Hwy. 902 in Medical Lake, Wash., from Friday, Aug. 8, through Sunday, Aug. 10. Tickets: $10-$22, day passes; $30-$35, weekend passes. Visit bluewatersbluegrass.org or ticketswest.com or call 325-SEAT.