Bluegrass folks have been prominent in the recent efforts to help raise money for the relief of residents of East Tennessee whose homes, properties, and livelihoods were damaged in the fast moving wildfires that ravaged areas around Gatlingburg and Pigeon Forge in late November. Surely part of the reason is the fact that there have been a good many bluegrass artists who themselves suffered losses in the fire, or loss of employment as a result of damaged facilities in the region.
A new venture has been announced to continue these fundraising activities through 2017 by partnering with a number of bluegrass venues and entertainers around the country, all of whom will donate the proceeds of their events to the Tennessee Valley Coalition for the Homeless. Calling itself Bluegrass Hope, and spearheaded by Melanie Wilson of Wilson Pickins Promotions and Annette Grady of The Bluegrass Jamboree radio network, this effort will feature concerts in at least eight different states, by artists performing free of charge at venues donated for this purpose.
The Tennessee Valley Coalition has been a lead agency in assisting residents of the Smoky Mountains area in the aftermath of the fires, and they are gladly joining with Bluegrass Hope in this concert series.
To date, venues taking part include The Station Inn in Nashville, TN; Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor in West Columbia, SC; Everett’s Music Barn in Suwanee, GA; Mike’s Music and Dance Barn in Nashville, IN; Feed & Seed in Fletcher, NC; and the Sterling Jamboree in Mount Sterling, OH. Shows will also be scheduled in Virginia and Kentucky at venues not yet finalized.
Melanie tells us that the concept was launched during a conversation with Annette, as they were discussing how many people had wanted to either perform or attend the various benefit concerts, but were too far away or had date conflicts. They came up with the idea of a series of shows around the country where regional bands could entertain, and local bluegrass lovers could come out in support. Events will be scheduled February through April with an eye towards getting donations to the TVC as quickly as possible.
The first show will be held on February 11 at Everett’s Music Barn from 2:00-10:00 p.m. Entertainment will be provided by The Bluegrass Outlaws and a number of other groups. The Mayor of Suwanee is expected to attend, along with other local dignitaries and representatives of the Tennessee Valley Coalition.
March 4 is the date for an event at Bill’s Pickin’ Parlor, and April 1 finds concerts at the Sterling Jamboree and Mike’s Music and Dance Barn. The Ohio show will be headlined by The Clay Hess Band and Nightflyer, while in Indiana it will be Blue Mafia, Kim Robins, Branded Bluegrass, and several others.
The Station Inn show is set for April 8, and Wilson says that many top acts in Nashville are checking their availability to see if they can appear.
Bluegrass Hope will also be raffling off a Sullivan banjo which is being donated by Eric Sullivan, and a new guitar given them by Elderly Instruments.
What a fine way to beat the winter blues and hear some great bluegrass music, while helping out families and individuals in need in east Tennessee.