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Pickin’ for a cause: Shriner’s Bluegrass show returns after a year off

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Fans of live music had a rough year in 2020, with the typical slate of summer and fall shows cancelled due to COVID restrictions. But after more than a year of isolation and no entertainment, music fans and musicians alike are looking forward to a return to normal. A return to normal that, for them, includes bluegrass festival season.

“It’s so much of a big part of our summer, because so much time goes into it,” show organizer Ryan Barker explained. 

With no events last year, Barker said, club members were just as excited for the return of the show as the fans and musicians were. 

“We’re really looking forward to being back open and having our events again this year” 

The loss of events last year not only hurt club member morale, it also had a big impact on the amount of money the club was able to raise and donate to the children’s hospital, which is the main recipient of funds raised by the club. 

But while charity is important to the club, and the main reason they organize their events, for bluegrass fans and musicians, as well as club members, the comradery of the event is also important. The bands who have taken the last year off are all very excited to return to the stage, Barker said. 

“They’re all ready,” he said. “Our local bands, definitely. But even Russell (Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out), I spoke with Russell here not too long ago, and they were just ready. Same with Tim Stafford, with Blue Highway. Those guys, even though they’re big names, they’re as approachable as you and I.”

And, he said, just as excited for the shows to be back on. 

The show this year – the club’s 30th annual bluegrass festival – runs Thursday through Saturday, July 8 – 10, with a soup bean dinner and potluck on Wednesday, July 7. The soup bean dinner, Barker said, is a great way to meet and socialize. It’s also a great way to get in the mood for the coming weekend as folks begin grouping off for campground jams in the evening. Those amateurs and fans picking around their campfires are as much a part of the experience as the shows from the touring bands, Barker noted. 

While the campground space has been filling up since they announced the show, with only a few spots still available at the time Barker sat down to speak with the Times, there is still plenty of space for locals who want to come out and enjoy the music for a single night, or for the entire weekend. Tickets for single day shows are $10 on Thursday evening, and $40 for Friday and Saturday, with children 12 and under admitted free of charge. A pass for the entire weekend is $70. Advance tickets can be obtained from Alma Sturgill, at Sturgill’s Music Center in Olive Hill, or they can be purchased at the gate on the day of the show. 

Primitive camping is available, or electric and water camper hookups are available for additional fees that vary depending on the amperage of your electric hookup. 

Music begins at 1 p.m. on Thursday with Black Powder Express, 7 Mile Bluegrass, Lacy Creek, Southridge, and Tommy Webb Band, each playing two sets. 

Friday’s lineup starts playing at noon, with Sammy Adkins & the Sandy Hook Mountain Boys, Jeff Brown & Still Lonesome, Alex Leach Band, Turning Ground, and Blue Highway, and Ralph Stanley II & the Clinch Mountain Boys. 

Stanley, Barker noted, is a brother Mason – as was his iconic father, the late Dr. Ralph Stanley – and both have been avid supporters of the show and their mission. 

On Saturday the music starts again at 1 p.m. with Fenced In, Hammertowne, Tarry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive, David Adkins Band, and Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out. 

The line up and the schedule are subject to change, Barker noted, but one thing that never changes is the impact the club has on the lives of the children they help – and not just when they are in the hospital. While Barker did not mention any names, he noted that some of the children who have benefited from care at Shriners Children’s Hospitals have also attended the shows with their parents and family members and that the community they foster at the show has helped them in their recovery and in their personal and social growth and development. 

While the music is always fun, he said, the children are ultimately why the Shrine Club hold their various events. When they can do a little extra for those kids, and see the smiles on their faces, he said, it makes all the hard work worthwhile. 

For more information on the show, or to purchase tickets, contact Barker at 548-0833, or Sturgill’s Music Center, for advance purchase tickets, at 286-4611. For more information on camping call Kenny or Robin Adkins at 316-6353 or 316-6352. For vending opportunities, contact Buggy Jordan at 255-6738. Or, check them out online at shrinersbluegrassfestival.com. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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