What: Front Porch Fest, featuring Dead Men's Hollow When: 5 - 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday Where: Arlington United Methodist Church

Dead Men's Hollow plays a multihued brand of bluegrass.
Dead Men's Hollow plays a multihued brand of bluegrass. (By Joe Keller)
Thursday, September 28, 2006

Here's a great way to welcome fall -- a free, twilight music festival featuring acoustic performers and a laid-back picnic vibe. This weekend's Front Porch Fest, hosted by Arlington United Methodist Church, features such acts as Wes Tucker & the Skillets, Laura Secker and others over two days, the organizer's goal being to provide a "place where neighbors gather for great music and good times."

One of our area's most talented traditional acts, Dead Men's Hollow, will wrap up the festival on Sunday, playing the event's final set from 7 to 8. The sextet plays traditional bluegrass and country blues with touches of gospel and jazz, highlighted by gorgeous three-part female harmonies. Mixing country standards, old-time Appalachian soul, original compositions and the occasional Cheap Trick cover, the band has charmed audiences in churches, roadhouses, at big music festivals and in intimate house concerts, with stops at the Kennedy Center and a televised holiday show for troops at Fort Riley, Kan.

The sextet comprises Amy Nazarov, Belinda Hardesty, Caryn Fox, Marcy Cochran, Mike Clayberg and Bob Peirce.

Dead Men's Hollow released its debut CD, "Forever True," in April 2005 on the Acoustic Americana label. In February, the CD was named Best Bluegrass Recording and Best Debut Recording (across all genres) in the Washington Area Music Association "Wammie" awards, while the band won Best Bluegrass Duo/Group.

The group returned to the studio in March and this month released "Two-Timin'," a CD that includes bits of Western swing, a cappella, honky-tonk and a baroque lullaby. And to prove that even traditional music moves to the high-tech drumbeat, the band sells ring-tone versions of its tunes through Billboard, so you can answer your phone when it calls out "Join Me in Drinkin'."

The band's Web site, http://www.deadmenshollow.com , offers concert tracks for the sampling and this explanation of its name: "After the Civil War, saloons, pawn shops and houses of ill repute dominated the Arlington, Virginia end of the old aqueduct bridge leading into Washington, DC. Law-abiding citizens had to travel in well-armed groups if they wished to pass unharmed. They called this place 'Dead Men's Hollow.' "

So now you know.


Arlington United Methodist Church is at 716 S. Glebe Rd., at Glebe Road and South Eighth Street. The event, to take place on the church's front lawn, is free. Participants are encouraged to bring blankets and picnics. For information, call the church at 703-979-7527.

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