Doyle Lawson’s 2021 Festival returns bluegrass to normalcy

With North Carolina vaccines up and COVID cases down, the state is gradually rolling back restrictions and outdoor events are returning. One of those is the 41st Annual Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver Festival held at the Denton Farm Park in the central part of the state. During the quarantine of 2020, the mando master’s Mother’s Day weekend event was bumped to September, and held with social distancing, hand sanitizer stations, and mask wearing. This weekend, the festival returns to its regular time slot with a much more relaxed environment.

As Joe Mullins opened his first set on Thursday afternoon, he said, “It is good to see everybody without masks. Bluegrass is back at Denton FarmPark. We are going to have as much fun as hillbillies can have with their clothes on.”

“There are 25-30 campers in the ford (an exterior area of the grounds). We usually have only 3 or 4 out there,” shared FarmPark co-owner, Karen Loflin Miller. She estimated that the park is about ¾ full of RVs. “We appreciate all the support for Denton FarmPark. We had a hard 2020.”

Bob Webster, afternoon emcee, expressed it perfectly. “This is a wonderful festival. You will see music here that you won’t see somewhere else. I saw Alison Kraus here. I saw the Bluegrass Album Band.”

The bands bounded on stage with renewed energy and excitement.

Chris of the Malpass Brothers joked, “We ain’t seen each other in a year. Taylor’s little boy didn’t even know he played music, and neither did we! Johnny (Ridge, the band’s fiddler) had to show me how to make a G chord.”

Evening emcee, Jeff Branch, looked across the pavilion, and expressed, “This is the largest crowd that I have ever seen on Thursday night.”

Other bands on Thursday’s schedule included Donna Ulisse and Harrison Ridge. Friday’s line-up features host band, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, along with the Seldom Scene, Junior Sisk, the Churchmen with IIIrd Tyme Out’s, Nathan Aldridge, guesting on fiddle, Larry Efaw and the Bluegrass Mountaineers, and Caroline and Company.

During their afternoon set, the Churchmen teased, “We haven’t played in so long that we can’t remember the words to our songs. If you’ve got our CDs, you probably know our music better than us. So if you see us get that deer-in-the-headlights look, just jump up and start signing.”

Saturday’s show begins at noon with The Family Sowell. Music continues with Doyle’s band, Terry Baucom & the Dukes of Drive, the Gibson Brothers, Lorraine Jordan & Carolina Road, and Deeper Shade of Blue.

Blue Ridge Sound technician, Geoffrey Keyes, noted as he manned the sound board at the festival, “Live music is back with a bang!”

Denton FarmPark is located at 1072 Cranford Road in Denton, North Carolina. For more info visit them online or call (336)859-2755.

We will have more coverage of the festival, including photos, next week.

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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.