Showcase Stage returns to Bluegrass First Class

After a three-year hiatus, the Showcase Stage returned to the 2024 Bluegrass First Class music festival in Asheville, NC this past weekend. Twelve local and regional bluegrass bands graced the Showcase Stage on Friday and Saturday, while full-time pros such as Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Authentic Unlimited, and five others played the Main Stage in the Crowne Plaza Hotel Expo Center.

Jason Harkey, son of festival promoter Milton Harkey, said the Showcase Stage was dropped after COVID restrictions prevented the festival from occurring in 2020, and when it resumed in 2021 the stage was present in the lobby area of the hotel, but no bands were booked or formally invited to play. It was primarily used as jam area, Harkey said.

This year, the 29th running of the festival, “we’re back in full swing,” Harkey said. 

The Showcase Stage featured musicians and groups of all ages. On Friday the lineup included Newfound Gap, three siblings ages 12, 14, and 16, from just nine and a half miles down the road in Leicester, NC. The four youngsters in Creekwater Collective traveled from Pickens County, SC to play two sets on Friday. Other bands on Friday included Lonesome Drive Bluegrass Band, The New Primitive, Twisted Grass Entourage, UNC-Asheville Bluegrass Band, Bluegrass and Company, and One Achord.

Saturday’s Showcase lineup featured Young Mountain Magic, ThreeTop Bluegrass, Cast Iron Bluegrass, Bryan Osborne & The Ashe Mountain Boys, UNC-Asheville Bluegrass Band, Bluegrass and Company, and One Achord.

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About the Author

Nicholas Hancock

Nicholas Hancock is a former newspaper writer and editor who also played rhythm guitar in The Bluegrass Gentlemen from 1968 through mid-1974. Today, he is retired and enjoying his hobby of photographing bluegrass and other music events.