Bluegrass returns to Denton FarmPark for Doyle Lawson Festival

Even in the midst of a pandemic, the show must go on and that is what is happening this weekend at the 40th Annual Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver Festival held at Denton FarmPark in central North Carolina.

The event has faced several challenges. Its promoter, Brown Loflin, passed away last September. The festival, normally held on Mother’s Day weekend in May, was postponed until the last weekend in September due to the Coronavirus outbreak and the mandated stay-at-home orders. Loflin’s daughter, Karen Miller, and other family members plus the host performer, Doyle Lawson, have labored to still make the musical event a success.

Musicians are eager to perform and fans are hungry for live shows. A large, socially distanced crowd assembled in and around the concert hall.

“How’s your 2020 been?” asked Christopher Malpass of the Malpass Brothers from Goldsboro, NC. “It’s good to be back at the best festival there is!”

Keeping it lighthearted, brother Taylor Malpass stated, “I had a friend who had the Bud Lite virus.”

Christopher responded, “I think you mean Coronavirus.”

“I knew it was some kind of beer,” Taylor returned.

The duo then launched into their version of Merle Haggard’s Are the Good Times Really Over?

Their special lyrics included, “It was back before Elvis and the Coronavirus came along…”

Striving to keep things positive, Fast Track bassist, Ron Spears, joked about the wearing of masks, “You can go in Walmart now and there are no ugly people.”

Spears then invited music fans, “We have a new CD. We’ll elbow bump at the record table.”

The park is taking measures to maintain a safe and enjoyable environment for everyone.

“We are providing hand sanitizer at the gates, marking off 6 feet distance around the vendors, and marking off portions of the benches under the music hall to get the 6 feet distance as much as possible, and recommending wearing masks,” Miller explained.

Afternoon emcee, Bob Webster, explained to attendees. “As you leave for the evening, take your chairs and blankets with you as we will be spraying the auditorium with disinfectant to keep everyone safe.”

The event kicked off today with performances by Remington Ryde, Trinity River Band, Fast Track, the Malpass Brothers, and the highlight of the evening, a reunion concert by the original Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Sitting in with Lawson, Terry Baucom, Lou Reid, and Jimmy Haley will be former Quicksilver fiddler, Stephen Burwell.

Friday’s line-up includes the Lonesome River Band, Merle Monroe, Joe Mullins and the Radio Ramblers, and others. The current band of Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver will be performing both Friday and Saturday. Both days begin at noon and run until 11:00 p.m.

Saturday’s show kicks off with North Carolina-based band, Drive Time, followed with performances by Williamson Branch, Deeper Shade of Blue, Sideline, and IIIrd Tyme Out.

Miller concluded, “The RV’s have rolled in for the first day of the festival! Our visitors are so excited about the festival! We at Denton FarmPark are honored that we have hosted Doyle’s festival for 40 years! We have enjoyed working with Doyle and are proud of the relationship we have built over the years.”

The event is a family style festival and no alcoholic beverages are allowed. Denton FarmPark is located at 1072 Cranford Road, Denton, NC. 

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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.