Folks who work in the business side of bluegrass music often wear a lot of different hats. They may play with a band, offer booking services, host a radio program, help promote concerts and festivals… in any combination of these and other vocations.
In the state of Florida there is a perfect example in the persons of Ernie and Debi Evans, who do all those things, and also have found a new business model: festival rehabilitation specialists. The Evans offer their expertise to bluegrass festivals who are in danger of failing, or have already gone under. There are now several events in Florida under their management or direction, and they have just announced their first north of the state line.
For nearly 30 years the Hillside Family RV Park in Cochran, GA hosted a bluegrass festival, until a downturn in attendance forced them to discontinue the event just two years ago. But in 2015, the Hillside Bluegrass Reunion rides again April 23-26, under the direction of Ernie and Debi.
Ernie tells us that they feel a special pride in resurrecting this longstanding event.
“Debi and I have enjoyed playing music at the Hillside festival for years, and it broke our hearts a little bit when they stopped having festivals here. But now we get to enjoy being the team that returns bluegrass music to this wonderful park and these wonderful fans.
We just feel very fortunate to have found great opportunities to help grow and nurture the music we love. We work hard to give festival goers more than just a music festival. We give them well-rounded, family-friendly entertainment.”
He also reports that there have been some major renovations in the park, and that they will initiate several new features during the festival. They will offer a potluck dinner and movies with free popcorn on Wednesday evening, a live open-mic radio broadcast on Thursday, a children’s music workshop on Saturday, and a Gospel singing and service on Sunday.
It’s always sad when a bluegrass event closes down, and doubly joyous when one springs back to life. This is surely great news for Georgia bluegrass fans.