CranFest In The Courtyard Celebrates Sixth Season

by Jennifer Sexton-Riley

If world class music in a small town setting is what you’re craving, don’t miss the Harwich Cranberry Arts and Music Festival’s CranFest in the Courtyard season six lineup on Thursday evenings, July 11 through Aug. 22, with a grand finale on Friday Aug. 30.

Cranberry Festival Music Director Bob Weiser has been presenting music for nearly 40 years, first in the Boston area and for the past 20 on Cape Cod, as well as hosting folk music on the radio for decades. The performers Weiser has brought to CranFests past include venerated veterans, future stars and sometimes artists who've never been seen or heard in this neck of the woods.

“Right here, you can see artists from across the country and around the world,” Weiser said. “We’ve chosen to raise the bar a bit by bringing world-class music to our small town setting in Harwich, with a selection of performers equal to those taking the stage anywhere on Cape Cod.”

The music gets off to an unforgettable start on Thursday, July 11 with award-winning multi-instrumentalist Harvey Reid and fiddler extraordinaire Joyce Andersen, a husband-wife team hailing from Maine, featuring vocal harmonies and an extensive repertoire of originals as well as traditional songs and tunes. Reid and Andersen said thay haven’t peformed on the Cape for about six years, although they’ve worked with Weiser for decades. They’re excited to return, and will come equipped with guitars, fiddle, viola and much more.

“We’ll be playing some of the best music of our lives,” Reid said. “There’s nothing quite like doing it the old way, having people there and enjoying whatever goes on between artist and audience. I think we play our best when we are in the moment. People need art and music. It’s important stuff. The world is in turmoil, and it’s our job to show up, be in a good mood and play. It’s fun for us to be part of the spectacle.”

On Thursday, July 18, Kristen Grainger’s True North Duo will make their Massachusetts debut, traveling all the way from the Pacific Northwest for their first east coast tour. Singer-songwriter acoustic duo Kristen Grainger and Dan Wetzel’s performances resonate deeply with audiences listening for well-crafted songs, skillful instrumentation and beautiful vocals. They’ve made a name for themselves out west with their bluegrass sound and poetic lyricism.

“This is our first tour of the east coast, though I was born in Boston,” Grainger said. “Mom says she went into labor on Cape Cod, and I was born with a little sand in my hair.”

Grainger explained that True North Duo’s CranFest appearance came about after Weiser, whose “The Old Songs’ Home” radio show has featured folk, acoustic, bluegrass, Celtic, Cajun, blues and more on WOMR for over 20 years, received the band’s album, “Fear of Falling Stars.” The CD will be available for purchase on the night of the duo’s performance, along with an included download code for those who don’t have ancient technology like CD players.

“We let Bob Weiser know we would be coming to the east coast on our tour, and he said we would fit well into the CranFest in the Courtyard series,” Grainger said. “Our album has done well, and we are excited to share those tunes and some of our other songs too.”

On Thursday, July 25, a more bluesy feel will take the CranFest stage with the event debut of David Jacobs-Strain and Bob Beach. Another Pacific Northwest musician, Jacobs-Strain is a slide guitar player who will cover the greats and introduce his own songs as well. For nearly 15 years, he has toured with Beach, a harmonica maestro from Philadelphia. Together, as a multigenerational, bicoastal duo, they’ve been delighting roots music lovers around the world.

Jacobs-Strain recalls meeting Weiser at the Falcon Ridge Folk Festival in Goshen, Conn. a few decades ago, when he was a teenager.

“Bob gave me a ride to the gig, and I really came to appreciate his dedication to music and community,” Jacobs-Strain said.

Jacobs-Strain and Beach will perform songs from their new recording, “The Belfry Session,” which the duo recorded toward the end of the pandemic lockdown in an old church in the central Oregon town of Sisters.

“We were able to set up far enough apart from each other, and we could just play and record, with no overdubs, and no sending stuff back and forth,” Jacobs-Strain said. “That one we got to play live and let it be.”

The pair have been playing together for many years, having met in a workshop at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

“Bob Beach has been playing harmonica for…it’s got to be close to 60 years,” Jacobs-Strain said. “We met in this workshop where they put people together, and then I started calling him for occasional gigs. Once I had Bob sit in, and I felt like, ‘How does he know all my new songs?’ He is just an incredibly intuitive musician, and over the years he has sat in with just about everyone. He really is a virtuoso.”

On Thursday, Aug. 1, another Cape Cod debut will hit the CranFest stage as the Lonesome Ace String Band perform. Three Canadians swept up in the traditional music of the American South, their instrumentation alone instantly sets this band apart, consisting of fiddle, clawhammer banjo and upright bass. If you love bluegrass, exceptional musicianship and great vocal harmonies, the Lonesome Ace String Band is for you.

On Thursday, Aug. 8, The Folk Collective, a project of the legendary Club Passim of Harvard Square in Cambridge, will take the stage. Five members will perform and share their unique perspectives on where folk music is heading in the 21st century. The aim is to present inclusive and equitable events that welcome and invite diverse audiences, at Club Passim and beyond. Performing will be Kim Moberg, Alastair Moock, Stephanie McKay, Lydia Harrell, and Maxfield


On Thursday, Aug. 15, Irish singer Karan Casey will delight the CranFest audience with a rare Cape Cod appearance. A lover of ballads, love songs, searing versions of social justice songs, and fond of a good yarn, Casey has blazed a trail while touring the world. She makes deep connections with her audience via Ireland’s past, while repositioning women and songs in a universal and a modern setting.

On Thursday, Aug. 22, Hubby Jenkins, an integral member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops and later Rhiannon Giddens band, will take the CranFest stage. Jenkins has performed around the world, earning Grammy and Americana award nominations. Now he spreads his knowledge and love of old-time American music through his dynamic solo performances.

On Friday, Aug. 30 John Gorka will perform the CranFest in the Courtyard season finale. New Jersey-bred Gorka’s songs are by turns wry, biting, nostalgic. Provocative and highly original, Gorka’s older songs ring as true as ever, and the new ones are just as good. His

CranFest season finale in 2023 sold out quickly, so get your tickets early.

Gates open at 5:45 p.m., and attendees are encouraged to bring a takeout dinner or a picnic. Soft drinks will be available for sale. Note: wine and beer will not be available for sale at this year’s events. The music will start at 6:30 p.m. sharp. Parking is free. Those who come early can enjoy the Farmers Market and Artisan Fair on the grounds of The 204. Don’t forget to bring your own lawn or beach chair and/or blanket to sit on the grass. If inclement weather requires a move indoors, new seating in the auditorium will make the venue more comfortable than ever.

Tickets are $25 per person for all shows. To purchase tickets, for more information, and for links to more about the artists visit