Olivia Jo & The MVPs debut at Denton FarmPark

Olivia Jo & The MVPs kicked off opening day of the 52nd Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion at the Denton FarmPark in Denton, NC on Thursday, June 30. The rising young bluegrass vocalist from Stuart, VA debuted her new powerhouse band. Band personnel included: Dustin Pyrtle, lead guitar/vocal harmonies; Spencer Strickland, mandolin/vocal harmonies; Barry Collins, banjo; and Brad Hutchens, bass.

Longtime promoter and founding father of IBMA, Milton Harkey, was present for the band’s premiere. He said, “On the same stage where Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver was first asked to host a festival in 1981, and Tony Rice played in 1982 with the Bluegrass Album Band (after a six and a half year absence from playing bluegrass on the East Coast), a new name arose here today. Olivia Jo & The MVPs took that same stage by storm. Together with seasoned professionals, her beautiful harmonies, and her soaring high lead vocals, the crowd was treated to another great performance. This certainly appears to be a band that has the potential to ‘make it’ in this business. Unmistakably bluegrass, from duets with Dustin Pyrtle to their selection of songs, they were a crowd favorite today.”

Olivia Jo shared, “It was a real honor getting to debut with the band on the Denton FarmPark stage, where so many other legends in bluegrass have performed before me. Like they say, it’s hallowed ground. I had an absolutely stellar band with me, too! Each one of those guys are exceptionally talented and, to me, it’s just as much of an honor to get to play with them. I couldn’t ask for a better group of musicians and vocalists to be by my side! All of us had a really great time and we hope to come back!”

Here’s a sampling of the new ensemble doing a great bluegrass cover of Randy Travis’ 1990 country hit, Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart:

The Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion continues in Denton through Sunday, July 4, with bluegrass, country, and/or  Gospel music featured each day in the music hall. Caroline & Company and Jimmy Fortune play today, Friday, July 1. 

On Saturday, July 2, Monroeville, a TN country band with bluegrass roots, is slated to perform (2:00 and 7:00 p.m.) and the Brad Hudson Band, a country group from Seymour, TN, (3:00 and 8:00 p.m.).

Sunday, July 3, showcases Gospel music with performances by Lakeside Bluegrass Gospel from Madisonville, TN, (1:00 and 6:00 p.m.), Jeff & Sherri Easter, offspring of the Easter Brothers and Lewis Family (2:00 and 7:00 p.m.), and Joseph Habedank (3:00 and 8:00 p.m.), named Southern Gospel Artist of the Year in 2020.

Monday, July 4, presents the bluegrass band, Just Cauz (2:00 and 7:00 p.m.), and country artist Ronnie McDowell, best known for his song Older Women (3:00 and 8:00 p.m.).

Admission includes all entertainment, demonstrations, and exhibits:  Adults – $18• Under 12 – $6 • Preschool – FREE.  Military Personnel receive $2 off admission (with ID).

For more information, contact Denton FarmPark (336) 859-2755.

Share this:

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.