DelStock in the News:
Del Bittle, owner of the Del Bittle music store, has been hosting a night of bluegrass, folk, country, old time and rock music for seven years. And this year, he’s doing it again.
Bittle titled the event Del Stock because he missed the opportunity to attend the famous Woodstock concert event in 1969. "It is a day of music for families to come out and enjoy," said Bittle. Musical groups and solo performers from all around come to perform at Del Stock, which will be held on Sunday. The event will begin at noon and has no pre-determined closing time. Del Stock is held on the fields of Bittle’s home and store location on Route 842, approximately two miles east of Unionville. The store was formerly located in downtown Kennett Square, where it resided for 15 years. Several performers will be returning who played at last year’s Del Stock event, including Lenape Grass, Little Elk Creek, the Country John band, Jenine Walters and Jerry Burris. Burris is a blind guitar player who has been performing at Del Stock for several years. His performance is highly anticipated each year by returning attendees of the event, according to Bittle. Bittle began hosting the event after Sunset Park in Jennersville stopped holding its own folk concerts. Sunset Park held the concerts every Sunday during the summer. Hank Williams Jr., Patsy Cline and other talent performed at the shows. Audiences of roughly 30,000 people would attend the concerts at Sunset Park. "A huge void was left after Sunset Park closed, and that is why Del Stock was started," said Bittle. The event is free, and attendees are encouraged to bring their own picnics and lawn chairs, although nonalcoholic drinks will be provided. Del Stock is not a promotional event for the Del Bittle music store. "The store is not even open unless someone breaks a (guitar) string," said Bittle. An old stage trailer, formerly used by Anson B. Nixon Park, now serves as the stage for Del Stock. Joe Young Sound company provides the necessary equipment to complete the concert stage. The performances are not judged, and no prizes are awarded. Bittle hopes to continue the event every year. "As long as people continue to show up, I will keep hosting (the event)," said Bittle. No auditions or rehearsals are held prior to the show. There were an estimated 400 people in attendance at last year’s concert, all of which found out about the event through word of mouth because Del Stock is not advertised. Bittle chose the particular music genre for the event for several reasons. "When you really listen to bluegrass and what it takes to play it, you cannot help but fall in love with it. The lyrics pertain to good things about life," said Bittle. ©Daily Local News 2006
What a swell party
Del Bittle did it again. He delivered a first rate community party on Sunday, providing sandwiches (pork, beef and sausage), soft drinks, music, fellowship and good cheer. This southern Chester County native deserves praise and thanks for his annual contribution to the region. He also deserve recognition as an emerging successor to Lawrence Waltman, the owner/operator of the great Sunset Park, a campground that attracted the greatest country and western singers to Penn Township for decades until its closing several years ago. It is not often that families and individuals can find a whole afternoon of free entertainment and food as well as good times with friends. But that is what Mr. Bittle, who never strayed far from his love of music since his high school days, offered on Sunday. Somehow, whenever there's a community event that needs a good background of chatter and tunes, Mr. Bittle seems to be there with his perfect sense of timing and quick wit. When individuals have questions about reproducing songs from records to tapes or CDs, Mr. Bittle provides the answers. If there's an old song or a one-of-a-kind instrument, he can dig it up for a customer. But when it comes to the annual festival on the family farm, he outdoes himself. This year he had crews organized to park cars in the field beside rows of corn. He had two lines of tables offering not only sandwiches that he bought but loads of cakes, pies, salads, baked beans and fresh fruits that guests brought. He also had buckets and buckets of iced soft drinks from Cokes to bottled water. No one went away hungry. When it came to music, Del Stock also gave us an afternoon of great talent, from solo guitar singer/players to large bluegrass groups. Which brings us to another point: Mr. Waltman of Sunset Park fame was on hand as well to join the fun, meet old friends and oversee the display that had been set up in his honor. Inside Mr. Bittle's music store along Route 842 in Pocopson Township, the walls and tables were loaded with memorabilia of the days of old when the greatest country and bluegrass singers of all time stopped by to entertain at the now-gone picnic and concert grounds in Penn Township. It's sad that Sunset Park had to close. But there was a strange sense of déjà vu at Del Stock VIII - a feeling that the spirit and the people of Sunset Park were somehow back again in Unionville on Sunday. Sure, Del Stock attracted the usual old regulars from the Kennett, Unionville and Avon Grove areas. But there were also folks who hunkered down in their lawn chairs - big hearty women in comfortable garb and elderly men in baseball caps who looked like the old pros of the country/bluegrass/Sunset Park culture. They knew how to enjoy an afternoon of music, and they sure were comfortable at Del Stock. We congratulate Mr. Bittle for sustaining this niche of music, and we thank him for doing it so consistently and selflessly. ©The Kennett Paper
FOR ALL10 YEARS
JOE YOUNG SOUND HAS BEEN THE CHOICE OF DELSTOCK
from Kennett Paper 8/9/07
|Del Bittle predicts biggest year yet for Delstock
|By Prue Osborn
|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 www.delbittle.com.
• To contact Prue Osborn, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The annual August wingding at the Bittle Farm in Unionville attracts some of the best bluegrass musicians around, including blind guitarist Jerry Burruss. This talented musician from Avondale can knock the socks off any folk or country song. Furthermore, Delstock organizer, Del Bittle charges no admission, asking only that his guests bring a dish of food to share with others. chris barber editor kennett paper 12/06