Day 1 at Denton FarmPark Bluegrass & Country Music Festival

After hosting the bluegrass festival at Denton FarmPark for over 40 years, bluegrass patriarch Doyle Lawson retired, and the North Carolina-based classic country band, The Malpass Brothers, are serving as new headliners, appearing daily, for the three-day music event this weekend.

Karen Miller, co-owner of the FarmPark, shared, “I have much admiration for Doyle. First, he is a Christian. Second, he has always treated my family with respect and dignity. And third, he gave each performance the best of his ability. My family so appreciated that he took time out of his busy schedule to sing with three of his band members at my dad’s funeral on September 16, 2019 at the FarmPark.”

It is sad to say goodbye to Doyle. A legend in the bluegrass world, his music and sound will live on forever, especially since his band (Authentic Unlimited) is continuing. On the other hand, we are excited that The Malpass Brothers are hosting the festival.”

In addition to the Malpasses, Thursday’s show featured performances by SPBGMA’s 2022 Female Vocalist of the Year & Songwriter, Donna Ulisse, Denton’s own Caroline & Company, and first-time appearances by the Tennessee Bluegrass Band and Bill and the Belles. The latter was a replacement for the Tim Raybon Band who canceled for business reasons.

Caroline Owens opened the first annual Malpass Brothers Bluegrass & Country Music Festival with a rousing version of our national anthem. With a large crowd for a Thursday, each band was greeted with zealous enthusiasm. The eager audience welcomed the new host band with open arms and full support.

Emcee, Bob Webster, directed attention to the new banner above the stage, bearing the Malpass’ name.

“They put their name on top of the festival and got new clothes,” he teased.

The siblings were decked out for their host band debut in sparkly rhinestone suits, reminiscent of their predecessor, Doyle Lawson. 

“We are so honored and privileged to serve as hosts,” stated Chris Malpass. “We look forward to keeping this festival going for many years, and keeping it traditional.”

Even the instruments that graced the stage bore a musical legacy. Taylor Malpass brought out an electric guitar that Leon Rhodes had played with Ernest Tubb and the Texas Troubadours. The Tennessee Bluegrass Band’s Lincoln Hensley picked Sonny Osborne’s guitjo (a five-string guitar) during their rendition of the movie theme song, Tammy’s in Love.

Though Lawson did not make an appearance on stage, his name was referenced numerous times.

Chris Malpass joked, “Doyle is out playing golf. We’ll be playing putt-putt.”

A new fan-friendly addition was an open jam lead by the Malpass Brothers inside the music hall following the Thursday night show. Young and old, men and women, seasoned and novice, assembled at the front of the stage for a chance to pick and sing with the host band. All were welcomed and invited to select a tune to perform. Music was played until well after 1:00 a.m.

Following the jam, Vicki Bassinger of Salisbury, NC, praised the new hosts. “I’ve never been so entertained.”

Doug Stuart of the Denton FarmPark agreed. “From the Malpass Brothers’ first time on stage to their last time, the crowd has been overwhelmingly welcoming.”

“I’ve known them for six years and followed them through four states,” added attendee, Tom Suggs of Rock Hill, SC. “From day one; they have been generous, personable, and approachable.”

Friday’s line-up includes Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, Larry Efaw, Fast Track, The King James Boys, and Drive Time.

Saturday’s schedule is slated for performances by Sideline, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Authentic Unlimited (Doyle’s former band), High Fidelity, and Deeper Shade of Blue.

The Malpass Brothers were truly excited to return to the FarmPark, this time as hosts.

Chris Malpass said, “We have been going to Denton, NC, since we were kids. This festival and the grounds are one of the most beautiful sites we have been to. The historical buildings with the train and its rolling hills are the perfect family setting. It’s a slice of heaven, or better known as North Carolina, for all to experience. We are so honored, and look forward to meeting and spending time with old friends and new at this festival.”

His brother, Taylor, added, “We are so excited to introduce new friends and fans who have not been to Denton to visit this park. It’s a great time for adults and kids with camping and activities for all. Not to forget the great music that will be enjoyed as well. I just can’t say enough about this great venue.”

Denton FarmPark is located at 1072 Cranford Road, Denton, NC. For 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.