2024 Malpass Brothers Festival in Denton, NC underway

The Malpass Brothers finish up Thursday night at Denton FarmPark (5/9/24)

The Malpass Brothers are hosting the annual Mother’s Day weekend Bluegrass & Country Music Festival for their third consecutive year at the Denton FarmPark in central North Carolina. Originally hosted by now-retired Doyle Lawson, it began in 1979 and the family-style music event continues throughout this weekend.

Denton FarmPark co-owner, Karen Loflin Miller, shared, “We are excited to welcome back our host band and our friends, The Malpass Brothers! It’s a great festival!”

Wednesday night featured an open mic on the pavilion stage with seven local bands performing. To the delight of the audience and the entertaining musicians, Nathan Aldridge, fiddler with IIIrd Tyme Out, was present to lend his musical skills to a couple of the bands’ sets.

Thursday, the professionals cranked up. Out the gate was local favorite and hometown girl, Caroline Owens. She set the music in motion with a rousing rendition of the national anthem, and then launched into the first set of the day. Her special guest was banjoist Jason Davis who was sitting in for Owens’ regular banjo picker, Chase Bennett, who was on baby watch for his first-born.

“I’m only seven minutes from home,” Owens teased.

The Baker Family from Missouri, making their debut on the FarmPark stage, weren’t quite so lucky. Following their second set, the three performing siblings, along with their parents and brother, left to make the 14-plus-hour drive to Branson, MO, to play on Friday.

Also appearing on Thursday’s show were The Kody Norris Band, The Junior Sisk Band, and closing out the first full day of music was the host band doing an extended set.

Sisk performed What a Wonderful Life This Has Turned Out to Be.

The singer/songwriter stressed, “It’s a wonderful life if we’re living and breathing and listening to bluegrass music.”

The Malpass Brothers showed their family support as they were joined on stage by three-year-old Arlen Riggins who remained faithfully beside his bassist dad, Jake, throughout much of the set until he became overcome with sleep.

Typical southern summertime insects, the cicadas, were in full voice, droning in the woods.

“What’s bad are these arcadias,” Taylor Malpass joked. “You know they took over the Bible.”

In their usual brotherly banter, Chris retorted, “If you’re going to stand up here and tell lie after lie on stage, maybe you need another occupation.”

Taylor returned, “Maybe I’ll run for president! I can’t remember what I’m talking about.”

The evening concluded with an open jam for attendees to pick on stage with the Malpass Brothers.

A great weekend of music continues with Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Little Roy & Lizzy, Kenny & Amanda Smith, and the host band on Friday. Saturday’s show will feature Authentic Unlimited, Deeper Shade of Blue, Classy & Grassy, and chart-topping country music artist, Gene Watson, who has 11 number one hit songs over his 60 year career. 

“I’m once again truly honored to be hosting Denton,” said Chris Malpass. This to me is one of my favorite places to play. The energy is great here and the bands are all top-notch. We love spending time with the folks who come to support this. It’s like a huge family reunion. No better place to be than Denton at this beautiful farm park. We hope folks feel at home and enjoy every second they are here. As we say, ‘you’re all family, not fans to us.'”

Brother, Taylor, chimed in, “I am completely honored to be hosting Denton again this year, seeing all our dear friends from all over the country. I can’t wait to make a load of new memories and friends this year. Denton has forever been my favorite festival grounds, from the music and fans, down to its beautiful landscape.”

Denton FarmPark is located at 1072 Cranford Road, Denton, NC. For more information, call (336) 859-2755 or visit them online.

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About the Author

Sandy Hatley

Sandy Chrisco Hatley is a free lance writer for several NC newspapers and Bluegrass Unlimited magazine. As a teenager, she picked banjo with an all girl band called the Happy Hollow String Band. Today, she plays dobro with her husband's band, the Hatley Family.