Garlic Festival gathers live music line-up

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BENNINGTON, VT. >> The Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival will celebrate its 20th year this September, and the weekend's activities are not limited to food.

Michele Hogan, the festival's music and entertainment chair for the past eight years, has booked a lineup of almost all Bennington musicians this year, with others from the surrounding county and upstate New York.

"I like to do live and local music," she said, "because there's a lot of amazing talent in our community."

Funk in the Trunk will bring a mix of Motown, funk and blues to the festival with a ful 10-piece band. The eight-piece Roadhouse Rhythm and Blues Band from Greenwich, N.Y., will also have a horn section performing in the style of Tommy Castro and The Blues Brothers.

The Hill Hollow Band will come back to the Garlic Festival from the Capital District, a bluegrass group with accordion, fiddle and mandolin and a saxophonist. And the Jeff McRae band will add some jazz to the mix, with McRae – English instructor at sachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams – on the drums.

The longest-standing band to play Garlic Festival has been Blues Sanctuary from Bennington, but the band's front man and Hogan's neighbor, Rick Burgess, recently passed away. This year, members of Blues Sanctuary will perform as Legato Blues Band.

The Garlic Festival takes place on the grounds of Camelot Village on Route 9. Musicians will perform on a green space across from the vendors with their fresh herbs, garlic fudge and pizza ovens, giving the festival's music space to shine, Hogan said.

Visitors can sit their lawn chairs on the grass and "eat, drink, be merry and dance – and have some garlic-ice cream," she said. At the height of the festival, she expects the music audience to reach more than 1,000 people, as it has in the past.

Hogan has roots in the music industry, and she has volunteered for 10 years at the Vermont Art Exchange's Basement Music series in North Bennington, so she has an experienced ear.

As for the food at Garlic Festival, Hogan had one thing to say: "Garlic chocolate-covered bacon, dude."


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