HOTAfest returns to region - Titusville Herald: News

HOTAfest returns to region

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Posted: Wednesday, July 12, 2017 5:00 am

From Friday’s check-in at 12 p.m. to Sunday’s jam session/goodbye, at 12 p.m., the Heart of the Arts Festival will be presented by the Titusville Council of the Arts.

HOTAfest will be hosted by the University of Pittsburgh’s Titusville campus, and it includes artists, musicians, and a plethora of workshops.

Fiddle workshops emphasize the importance of how to help people’s fiddling sound better, how to use bow phrases, and note combinations.

During the claw-hammer banjo workshop, those in attendance have the option to learn how to use their thumb to make a banjo swing. People can learn how to use helpful methods and will focus on having good motion with claws.

A ukulele workshop will consist of participants being able to learn alternate chords for rhythm strumming. New chord positions will be used for certain songs, too.

Workshops are on Friday, from 2:15. to 3:45 p.m., and Saturday, from 8:45 to 10:15 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. to 12 p.m., and 1:30 to 3 p.m.

This year, Sara Watkins will be on the HOTAfest lineup. Watkins is known as a founding member if the Grammy-winning, bluegrass act, “Nickel Creek.” Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer will join Watkins on the stage.

Watkins will have a workshop on Saturday, from 3:15 to 4:45 p.m. During the workshop, she will talk about accompaniment, harmony, and learning how to contribute.

A meet and greet will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m.

Meals will be provided daily, for a fee, with dinner on Friday, at 5:30 p.m., breakfast on Saturday, at 7:30 a.m., lunch at 12:15 p.m., and dinner at 5 p.m. A breakfast will also be held on Sunday, at 7:30 a.m.

Joe Thompson will be a part of the opening act for “Rachel Eddy & The Early Mays,” on Friday night. Thompson is one of the founding members of the award winning band, “Joe Thompson and The Comfortable Catastrophe.” In 2010, the band won the grand prize at  WNYC’s Battle of the Boroughs, a competition that 10,000 bands participate in.

“Rachel Eddy and The Early Mays” will perform from 8 to 9 p.m. The public can see the group for free. Eddy lived in Stockholm, Sweden, from 2008-2014.

She played old-time music throughout Europe. She currently divides her time between teaching and performing music in Pittsburgh, Morgantown, W, Va., and Washington, D.C.

The group formed in 2013, and they recently won the blue ribbon in the Neo-Traditional Band Competition, in The Appalachian String Band Music Festival.

Jam sessions will take place on Friday, at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m, and on Sunday, at 10:30 a.m.

Thompson said that jam sessions are when musicians play traditional folk songs, string, and fiddle tunes. He said there can be up to 15 violins playing the same melody.

There is an admission fee to the Saturday night concerts. The Contra dance will be held at 9:30 p.m.

The dance makes reference to different folk dance styles in two lines or a square. Contra dances were created when French dance masters adopted English country dances. These dances returned to England and progressed in the United States.

Thompson stated that he and fellow artist/musicians would like to educate and “pay it forward to the ones we love in the Titusville community.”

When asked in a phone interview about what people should do if they are unsure about going to HOTAfest, Thompson replied by saying if someone is skeptical, but curious, they should stop by to see the festival.

He said the only thing people would have to spend is their time and if they come to Friday’s shows he believes audiences will be interested in sticking around for the event’s entirety.

Fiuza can be reached by email, at

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