For Anthony Hannigan and Jillian Brosnan, acoustic music has always been a passion. So when the two musicians decided they wanted to organize a multi-day music and camping festival in Northeast Pa., the genre selection was a relatively easy choice. From Friday through Sunday, the two will be hosting the inaugural Cornstock Acoustic Music Festival at the beautiful Lazy Brook Park in Tunkhannock.
Unlike most festivals that try and attract acts from the national circuit, Cornstock focuses solely on the vibrant acoustic scene from our own backyard. Throughout their travels and being exposed to different music from across the globe, the two felt that the plethora of acoustic acts in our area deserve to have their music exposed to people who may be catching one of the acts for the first time.
“There is a wealth of acoustic musicians in our region who play great music,” Hannigan said. “We want to expose more people from this region to that great music. This area is prime for an organic acoustic movement.”
“After traveling all over the United States and Europe, we realized that our favorite place in the world is right here,” Brosnan added.
Some of the acts on tap for the three day festival range from bands like the Hickory Project, Old Friends, the Coal Town Rounders, and Garcia Grass, to established solo acts like Charles Havira and Jim Carro. When reaching out to the different musicians and telling them what Cornstock wants to do for their music, Hannigan had very little trouble getting the acts to agree to take part in the inaugural event.
“It wasn’t difficult at all when the concept was conceived back in January,” he said. “The first thing I did was to reach out to the bands that have impressed me the most. I’ve known all the musicians for years. It’s like a web; everyone is musically connected to everyone else somehow. We’re very fortunate that everyone stepped up to the plate and offered to help get the festival off the ground.”
Along with the music, Hannigan and Brosnan are using everything from the lush natural layout of Lazy Brook Park and all its amenities, to a variety of workshops to help make Cornstock an enjoyable weekend for music lovers and their families.
“Fantastic,” Hannigan enthused about the family-friendly atmosphere of the weekend. “You’ll be surrounded by acoustic music in the beautiful outdoors. You can take a guitar workshop, go swimming, have a family yoga stretch, all while camping in the most beautiful spot in Wyoming County.”
“I can’t think of a better way to spend time with family,” Brosnan said. “In fact, my family is coming up from Virginia and Florida to be here. Anthony’s dad is too; he’s coming up from West Virginia. Jim Hannigan, Anthony’s dad, is our guest of honor for Cornstock. We want to pass on everything he has done to spread his love of bluegrass and roots music in the area.”
Adding to the ambience of Cornstock, the festival will be housing various workshops (included with admission), which will range from yoga to music therapy. The workshops will be accessible for everyone, from children to adults, and Hannigan hopes that anyone who takes part in any of the workshops will develop a better understanding of what is being offered and take those lessons home with them.
“(Hopefully) stimulate their interest and follow through at home,” he said.” Take a guitar lesson, join a yoga class, write a song, start a band, run for president.”
Whether it be the music, the workshops, or the atmosphere of getting a chance to experience a good weekend with good friends, both Brosnan and Hannigan hope that the people who come out and support this area’s acoustic music scene get a deeper respect for all the artists who are out there playing music that is not necessarily part of the mainstream.
“We want the music to grow,” Brosnan said. “We want more people to go listen to this great music and we want to inspire more people to pick up an instrument and join the acoustic movement.”
“We also want to close the gap between genres,” Hannigan added. “We want Billy Rogan fans to hear the Coal Town Rounders. We want the die-hard bluegrassers to experience slap guitar. We’re hoping to broaden the audience for the bands so they can all make a huge heap of money. Just kidding – musicians never make a lot of money.”