Big Lick 2023 festival begins

Big Lick Bluegrass Festival officially launches the outdoor festival season in central North Carolina. In its 19th year, the three-day event began with an open mic on Thursday evening. Bands that took the stage included Radio Flyer, River Ridge, and Turkey Hill featuring Jake Goforth on guitar with Gospel Plowboys’ Peden Williams and Alec McCallister on banjo and fiddle, respectively. Chelsea Claire, granddaughter of former Deeper Shade of Blue banjoist Jim Fraley, and her siblings, Cameron and Courtney, also performed.

“It’s our biggest Thursday so far,” promoter Jeff Branch expressed.

A beautiful sunny and warm Friday morning started with host band, Sideline, playing Bingo with attendees before the music cranked up on stage at 1:00 p.m. This is the final show for the touring band, and is the last show for guitarist/vocalist, Andy Buckner, with the band. He is embarking on a solo career. Former Sideline member, Bailey Coe, (now of Drive Time) will be filling Buckner’s spot on Saturday.

Buckner praised his band mates from the stage. “I appreciate the guys from Sideline for having me. Give it up for Steve and Skip. They’ve lead us pretty well. I’m going to miss this. It’s bittersweet.”

Others performing on Friday were the Tennessee Bluegrass Band, Deeper Shade of Blue, Drive Time, and the Parlor House Band.

Tennessee Bluegrass Band had Geary Allen on guitar and lead vocals. With dual citizenship in US and England, he spoke with a British accent, but sang southern.

“We met Geary at SPBGMA,” TBB fiddler, Aynsley Porchak, shared. “He sings like the people he listened to.”

Saturday’s show will feature Sideline along with Authentic Unlimited, The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys, Terry Baucom’s Dukes of Drive, Backline, and the Parlor House Band.

Tickets for Saturday are $40. The Big Lick Festival grounds are located at 640 S Oak Ridge Rd, Oakboro, NC 28129. For more information, contact Jeff  Branch, 704-985-6987.

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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.