Ernie Thacker benefit raises $3500

Last Friday night, an assortment of bluegrass stars came together to support one of their own. Together with Wilson Pickins Promotions, the Capitol Theatre in Greeneville, TN hosted an all-star benefit for Ernie Thacker and his family as he battles a terminal blood infection. The benefit, which combined a multi-artist concert with raffles for a number of donated items, ultimately raised over $3500 for Thacker.

According to Melanie Wilson of Wilson Pickins Promotions, the event originated with artists Mike Bentley, who had planned a previous benefit that had to be postponed, and Robert Hale, who wanted to do something to help Thacker but didn’t have a venue available. Wilson jumped in to help organize, contacting the Capitol Theatre to see if they had any available dates. The theatre offered to host the concert at no cost, and planning began.

The lineup Friday night consisted of several artists on the Wilson Pickins roster, as well as quite a few East Tennessee bluegrass favorites. Among the performers were Wildfire, Wilson Banjo Co., Blue Highway, Steve Gulley & New Pinnacle, and the Route 23 Alumni Band. Tim Stafford and Steve Gulley also took the stage to perform a set of original songs. The artists performed to a packed house of bluegrass fans, many of whom also enjoyed the barbeque provided by Hit the Pit BBQ, a food truck from Canton, NC that helped support the event. 

Several bands and organizations also donated items to be raffled off during the concert. Donations included CDs and band merch from Wilson Banjo Co., CDs from Blue Highway, CDs and shirts from Pinecastle Records, posters and show passes from the Capitol Theatre, and a pair of passes to the upcoming Bristol Bluegrass Spring Fest. 

Wilson said she would like to thank all of those who helped organize, support, and promote the event, particularly The Bluegrass Jamboree and The Ol’ Hippie Bluegrass Show, as well as a host of other radio programs, local television stations, and news media outlets. 

Much of the concert was streamed live on Facebook via Wilson Pickins Promotions, and several other videos from the event are now available for viewing at

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About the Author

John Curtis Goad

John Goad is a graduate of the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass, Old Time & Country Music program, with a Masters degree in both History and Appalachian Studies from ETSU.