Del Bittle is guaranteeing great musicians playing "incredible music" on Aug. 18 when he hosts Delstock XI at his family's farm. What he wants most is a great crowd to show its appreciation with applause.Music of all kinds will play live all over the Bittle farm the third Sunday in August. Delstock brings out the best in local bluegrass bands, fiddle players, old time country musicians and rock'n'rollers. About 20 acts sign up that morning for their time on the outdoor stage, while other "pickers" mingle, forming impromptu circles playing in patches of shade all around the property.  The very first Delstock event was just a small jam session. Bittle said the idea germinated when he found himself reminiscing about the good old days in the 1960s when he was in the Nebulas, a high school rock band. He missed the camaraderie of sitting around jamming together. He got thinking and tried to get together the members of his old high school band to relive a little of the fun of making music together.His band mates tried the excuse that they no longer had instruments.Bittle cast an eye around his Del Bittle Music store, lined with guitars, drums and every musical accoutrement, and said, "Not a problem. I've gotcha' covered."

While only a couple of them showed up to play, other musicians couldn't resist. Bittle had talked up the idea for a jam session/picnic to the musicians who came into his store. About 50 people gathered that Sunday for a musical pow wow in his barn. Within a couple of years the event outgrew the barn and moved outdoors. For a song he was able to buy the stage trailer from Anson B. Nixon Park and rolls it out on the lawn each August. Last year somewhere in the ballpark of 400 people set down their lawn chairs between the stage and the cornfields and spent the afternoon tapping their toes and bobbing their heads.

Bittle got the "stock" in Delstock from Woodstock, of course. He explains that back in that famed summer of 1969 he happily sacrificed tickets to the legendary rock'n'roll festival to save his beloved '68 Road Runner and his summer construction job. But, in actuality, Delstock is more reminiscent of the also legendary Sunset Park in West Grove than it is of Woodstock. It is family friendly and alcohol free. The event falls nicely the week after the Old Fiddlers' Picnic and the week before the Lancaster County Blue Grass Festival.

Bittle just loves music. He grew up on the farm where Delstock is held along Route 842, two miles east of Unionville. At Unionville High School he and his friends formed the Nebulas. He starred in Unionville High School theater productions, played the drums in the concert band and graduated in 1966.

The Nebulas' claim to fame was playing at the Worlds Fair in New York in 1964 and as the pre-act for the Beach Boys at the Wilmington Armory. Bittle said it also was a thrill hearing their band promoted on Wilmington's WAMS Radio Cavalcade of Stars. They had gigs at Riverview Park, the Brad Morris Ballroom, Wilmington's Merchandise Mart and played live on the radio. They even played backup for the Crystals and Mickey Lee Lane. But, then, college and real life stepped in and the Nebulas faded away. Bittle said all that is left are good memories on some old reel-to-reel tapes.

As much as Bittle loves playing music, he might love sharing music even more. For years Del Bittle Music was located on South Union Street in Kennett Square. He sold vinyl records, then tapes and eventually CDs. High school kids would stop in after school to see what was new, listen to music and chat with Bittle. One Saturday a van pulled up and a guy rushed in looking for guitar strings because he was playing at a wedding that day. He was out of luck because neither Biddle nor anyone else close by sold strings or even picks. But it got Bittle thinking. "I gradually switched from recorded music to musical instruments, my first real love any way," he said.

For the last several years musicians and parents of musicians have found just about everything they need by looking for the swinging guitar sign that points the way to Del Bittle Music on Rt. 842. A lot of people just stop by to gab with Bittle who always has a twinkle in his eye. On many a day visitors might find a little jam session going on right there in the store. "Music's been with me for 59 years and I'm not that good. I'm not a great drummer, but I have a lot of fun," he said.

Music and a good time is the whole point of Delstock. There are no auditions or pre-planning. Anyone - young or old - is invited to try their three best songs or add their sound to the "picking" circles. Bittle seems to love the surprise of who might show up and wow the crowd. Last year it was a little girl who went up on stage and sang karaoke. She so impressed Bittle that he gave her a guitar. He told her if she could teach herself to play she might be a star. He's hoping she comes back to sing and play this year. Bittle said, "No ones dies if it's bad and, if it's good, they love it."

The crowd always loves Jerry Burruss, the aged blind man who as a child taught himself to play the guitar while shut away in his mother's rundown house in West Grove. Other crowd favorites have been Lenape Grass, Country John Band, Remington Riders, Janine Walters, Little Elk Creek, Ian Mair and Friends, Eb Hawkins, Butchy Arrowood and his Bluegrass Five, Ed Lick, Leo Bacerra, Joe Hillman and many others.

Singles and duos get a 10-minute set and group acts get 20 minutes. He said he learned to keep sets short at the Grand 'ole Opry where both the newcomers and the biggest stars only get to play three songs. Stage manager Rick Hallman keeps things flowing smoothly. Joe Young is the soundman. All the sound equipment is set up so musicians only need arrive with their instrument. One act finishes up and the next begins, one after the other, until dark.

Bittle's wife, Sheila, daughter, Megan, and son, Jason, help him make sure the day is a success. For the first time this year Kennett's senior Girl Scout Troop 709 and Unionville's senior Troop 619 will relieve the Bittle family of the chore of providing food and drinks. They will provide hotdogs, chips, bottled water, soda and baked goods to raise money for a trip to Ireland, England and France. "Everyone is still invited to bring their picnic baskets, but we're going to try to send the girl scouts to Europe, too," he said.

Weather permitting, Bittle expects his biggest year yet. "We've always had good musicians and great music. I just hope we have a crowd to enjoy it and give them their applause."

Delstock will be held Sunday, Aug. 19, beginning at noon. Handicapped parking is available. For more information, visit the Website

• To contact Prue Osborn, email