On a ridge about 10 miles south of Hamilton, Montana, the fiddles and banjos, mandolins and bass fiddles will fill the air with music July 27-29 at the 4th Annual Hardtimes Bluegrass Festival.

The brainchild of accomplished musicians Mike and Tari Conroy, the gathering on a shady piece of ground just off Highway 93 will feature 10 bands and lots of special performances.

The Friday session starts at 6pm, Saturday at noon and a Bluegrass Gospel gathering will start Sunday's music at 10am.

The festival has been embraced by fans from throughout the Northwest and the line-up of bands includes JD Webb & The Downstate Ramblers, New South Fork, the Callenders, Will Williams and Gravel Road, Pinegrass, Spring Thaw, Blue to the Bone, Gravely Mtn and Mike and Tari Conroy's new band.

Special performances will highlight the weekend. Kids in Bluegrass will kick off things at noon Saturday and the Darby Sireens will play and sing at 3pm (paying homage to "Brother, Where Art Thou").

Sunday afternoon, the stage will include Featured Northwest Pioneers, who include Fiddlin' Jimmy Widner, Jerry Myers, Leon Hartless, Bob Greer and Forrest Clark. There may be more, too.

Bring your lawn chairs, keep your dog on a leash, camp out for $10 and be ready to pay the "hard times" admission price - $10 for adults for the whole weekend and $5 for kids 12 and under. Food and vendors will be on site.

Be ready to tap your toes and grin.