Hogtown Opry set to launch in Gainesville this month

Bluegrass and acoustic music lovers in north central Florida will have a new opportunity to see and hear the music they love as the Hogtown Opry kicks off on Saturday, May 20, at the historic University Auditorium on the University of Florida campus.

The brainchild of local music enthusiast Bill Killeen, this debut concert of what is planned to be a recurring series is how he describes First Night at the Hogtown Opry.

“Opening the show will be the Hogtown Opry Band, (otherwise known as Patchwork Plus). Leader Cathy DeWitt joins fellow crooners Jolene Jones, Annie McPherson, and Janet Rucker, and has invited guests including Grammy winner Louisa Branscomb, Brink Brinkman on guitar, Geof Perry on violin and fiddle, and Maggie Rucker on vocals to join in the fun.

After Intermission, it’s time to sit back and enjoy award-winning Wil Maring and Robert Bowlin. The duo combines their talents and blend elements to create their signature sound which includes old time, bluegrass, jazz, blues, Celtic, and country.

Closing the evening will bring Louisa Branscomb back on stage backed by guitar master Allen Shadd, Josh Harris, and bass favorite Barbara Johnson, with emerging artist Lucy Becker on vocals and fiddle, and guests Valerie Smith and Joe Zauner stepping in, too!

Special guests Nancy Luca and Anna Marie Kirkpatrick will join the band to close the show.”

Bill tells us that the plan is to hold shows every three or four weeks, though finding performers to fit their budget has been a struggle. He invites touring bluegrass groups that need a stopover date in Florida to contact him and try to find a suitable time to play in Gainesville. Opry shows will be on a catch-as-catch-can basis as they get started, with hopes for a regular monthly date once bands and acts can be arranged.

First Night at the Hogtown Opry tickets are available from the University of Florida Performing Arts web site, with prices ranging from $40-$60. A VIP pass, which includes great seats and a special commemorative T-shirt, are being offered for $100.

The University Auditorium is truly a beautiful space, perfect for listening to music in comfort and style.

Anyone interested in seeing more live music of this sort in Gainesville is encouraged to support this inaugural Opry concert.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.