The fires in Gatlinburg have been extinguished, but the flame of hope still burns brightly. This year’s edition of Christmas in the Smokies, presented by Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, kicked off Wednesday afternoon. Lorraine announced that the festival will be making a substantive donation to the My People Fund, set up by Dolly Parton’s foundation. The donation will be from the weekend’s general admission tickets, so join us at the festival and help the fire victims at the same time. Danny Stewart’s Bluegrass Trail is also donating funds from CD sales and a mandolin raffle. Lorraine’s crew was hard at work welcoming the arriving guests for a big part of the afternoon.
Edgar Loudermilk and his band opened the show at the Smoky Mountain Convention Center. Edgar brings many year’s of bluegrass history when he and his band take the stage. The Larry Stephenson Band took the stage next. Larry always gives an audience full measure, whether it is wonderful bluegrass gospel music, straight ahead bluegrass music, or, in Larry’s words, bluegrass “death and murder” songs. The Grascals have become a festival favorite wherever they appear. They combine many years of experience with the young voice of John Bryan to make really great music.
The evening’s “fun” group was the Smoky Mountain All Stars. The group featured Danny Stewart on mandolin, Tim White on banjo, Jerry Butler on guitar, Matt Wallace on bass, Matt Leadbetter on dobro, and Josh Goforth on fiddle. Tim White is also emceeing the festival. Sideline closed the day’s show. Sideline went from a part time endeavor to a full time touring band in a short period of time. They have become one of the must see bands.
Thursday brings another full line up to the Christmas in the Smokies stage. Dean Osborne, Williamson Branch, Ralph Stanley II and the Clinch Mountain Boys, Ronnie Reno and the Reno Tradition, Lorraine Jordan and Carolina Road, and Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver beginning at 3:00 p.m.