Music festival to pay tribute to Hartenbach

NEW CUMBERLAND — The final session during the Montani Semper Liberi – Music and Art at Oak Glen festival will include a musical tribute performed by an ensemble comprised of family, friends and acquaintances of the late musician and writer Brett Hartenbach.

Born in Chester and raised in East Liverpool, Brett graduated from East Liverpool High School in 1976. While in high school, he worked on both the student newspaper and yearbook staffs and began playing guitar. Following graduation, he enrolled at Kent State University’s East Liverpool Campus, where he studied journalism and earned an Associate Degree in Fine Arts. During those years, he played guitar in local bands such as Galeon’s Lap and Appaloosa and performed frequently with local musicians Doug Smith, Dave Morgan and others.

After a work stint at what was then-called The Evening Review, he left the area and moved to Michigan. He spent the next two decades playing, writing and performing music, along with writing music reviews for The All Music Guide. In 2003, he moved to Portsmouth, N.H., married Dawn Boyer, and made it their home.

A lifelong musician and songwriter, Brett collaborated, supported and shared stages across the country and around the world with notables such as Daniel Johnston, Rachael Davis, his wife Dawn Boyer (and Rock My Soul), as well as Jim Lauderdale, Ellis Paul, Mary Lou Lord, Teddy Thompson, Taj Mahal, Garnet Rogers and many others.

In January 2011, Hartenbach was diagnosed with a Grade III anaplastic, astrocytoma brain tumor. He died six years later on April 15, 2017. Just over a week before his death, the Kent State University at East Liverpool Wall of Fame Committee announced Brett as the 2017 recipient of their Lifetime Achievement Award.

In a February 2017 interview with Cristopher Hislop of the Seacoast Media Group, Brett shared, “Music is good for entertainment, sure, but in my case, music has been, and is, a lifeline, the core of who I am. It’s a lens through which I view the world. People have joked that I’m a walking music encyclopedia or a music geek, but it goes much deeper than that. It’s a reason to be, a way to make life meaningful, if that makes any sense. And practically speaking, it’s been a way to make a pretty decent living. I feel fortunate for that … I’ve met so many great people along the way, established so many long-lasting and deep friendships through music, and I count myself a lucky man.”

Those scheduled to assemble for the tribute performance at Music and Art at Oak Glen will include Rachael Davis, with whom Brett toured for nearly eight years, traveling from Nashville for the occasion. Local performers participating will be Doug Smith, Bob Walker, Ron Bryer, Sharyn Vinci and Gregg Harding. In addition, Erin Markley, will join the performance for several songs.

Montani Semper Liberi – Music and Art at Oak Glen IV runs March 9-11 at Oak Glen High School’s Little Theatre. “In Memory of Brett” will be part of the festival’s fourth session to take place on Sunday, March 11.

For information, call 304-374-7474. The event’s website is