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They Come from Around the World to Bluegrass in the Park

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Bluegrass in the ParkHenderson, KY -- With the 26th Annual Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival just around the corner, the committee is busy preparing for one of the most exciting music lineups yet! This year’s festival is August 12-13 in the shaded, riverfront Audubon Mill Park. The musical lineup for 2011 boasts traditional and progressive Bluegrass acts, including festival headliners, The Grascals, who may very well be the country’s next Bluegrass super group. Other performers include Bearfoot, The Darrell Webb Band, The HillBenders, Balsam Range and many more. The festival promises fans a Bluegrass music experience like no other! Audubon Mill Park is off 2nd street along the Ohio River in Henderson, Kentucky.

In addition to great Bluegrass performances, the festival also features dozens of folklife children’s activities on Saturday morning from 10am-2pm, such as soap making, pottery crafts, fried apple pies, beeswax candles and more. Several sporting events and a great selection of foods will be available during the two day event.

Sixty odd miles from the birthplace of the "Father of Bluegrass" music, Bill Monroe, situated under the many two-hundred year old shade trees of Audubon Mill Park (site of the original sawmill of naturalist John James Audubon), right on the banks of the mighty Ohio River - in the town that is able to boast that it is "On the Ohio but Never in It" (referring to the historic 1937 Flood in which Henderson, Kentucky was the only City on the Ohio not under water) - you will find perhaps the oldest on-going FREE Bluegrass festival in the United States - Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival.

Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival was at first strictly a music festival. The music aspect of the festival (which is still central to the theme) has grown from very humble beginnings to now being recognized as one of Kentucky's major Summertime events. The festival attracts people from all over the United States - at one time or another each one of the nation's fifty states has been represented. It has even attracted people from other parts of the world - Australia, France, England, Italy, Russia, Brazil, New Zealand, our neighbors to the north and south, Canada and Mexico, and many more - some of those visitors came just to hear a favorite Bluegrass artist (that should give you an idea of the caliber of talent at the festival).

Bluegrass music now truly belongs to the world, but at Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival, we strive to remind and educate people that this music had its beginnings right here in Western Kentucky, USA. We have been told on many occasions that we are the largest, on-going, free festival in the country. We'll do our very best, with your help, to keep it that way.

As always, the Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival is free thanks to donations, sponsors and advertisers.

2011 Line Up features some of America's finest performers....

Marty Stuart - Nashville, TennesseePerformance at the Henderson Fine Arts Center

Since starting out singing gospel as a child, the Bluegrass stint with Lester Flatt in the '70s, the six years with Johnny Cash in the '80s, and coming up with his smash "hillbilly rock" hits of the '90s, the four time GRAMMY winner, platinum recording artist, Grand Ole Opry star, country music memorabilia preservationist, stylist, designer, photographer, songwriter, all around renaissance man, charismatic force of nature, and (first of all, perhaps), leader of the extraordinary, versatile touring and recording band The Fabulous Superlatives, Marty Stuart has shown a showman's zest for every conceivable flavor of country music. Not to mention, a missionary's zeal for bringing the importance of the music and its themes home to long-time fans and newcomers alike.

Musicologist Peter North cites, "Marty Stuart seems wrapped in his destiny at this point in time. Not only as country music's most notable ambassador / caretaker, but as its main archetypical crusader. He has without question evolved into one of the most important roots musicians and visionaries in America."

"I'm always on the prowl for the kinds of recordings that can inspire and potentially make a difference," Stuart says. "What inspires me now, is traditional country music. It's the music I most cherish, the culture in which I was raised. It's the bedrock upon which the empire of country music is built, the empowering force that provides this genre with lasting credibility. It's beyond trends and it's timeless."

Marty will be the sixth Grand Ole Opry member to perform in Henderson. Bluegrass in the Park welcomes Marty Stuart to the kick off show at the Fine Arts Center.

The Grascals - Nashville, Tennessee

Great musicians will always find a way to make good music, but for great musicians to make great music, they must form a bond - one that, more often than not, goes beyond the purely musical to the personal. For The Grascals, that bond has been forged at the intersection of personal friendships, shared professional resumes and an appreciation for the innovative mingling of Bluegrass and country music that has been a hallmark of the Nashville scene for more than forty years. As their releases prove, The Grascals' rare musical empathy gives them an unerring ear for just the right touch to illuminate each offering's deepest spirit - whether they're digging into one of their original songs or reworking a Bluegrass classic or pop standard. Vocally, the trio of Terry Eldredge, Jamie Johnson and Terry Smith are tighter than ever, cutting loose on driving solo vocals and soaring trios with equal fire and passion. As an instrumental unit, The Grascals have never sounded sharper, with mandolin ace Danny Roberts, fiddler Jeremy Abshire and banjo player Kristin Scott Benson leading the charge. As a result, their cutting-edge modern Bluegrass is delivered with a deep knowledge of, and admiration for, the work of the music's founding fathers. Timely yet timeless, The Grascals make music that is entirely relevant to the here and now, yet immersed in traditional values of soul and musicianship. It's a unique sound that has earned two of their previous releases The Grascals (2005) and Long List of Heartaches (2006), Grammy nominations for International Bluegrass Music Association's Best Bluegrass Album. The Grascals are among the most beloved and acclaimed bands on today's Bluegrass scene, having won SPBGMA's Bluegrass Band of the Year award in 2010, the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist of the Year award in 2005 and earning its Entertainer of the Year honor in both 2006 and 2007. Bluegrass in the Park welcomes The Grascals to our stage!

Bearfoot - Nashville, Tennessee

Call it "new-timey," call it "post-Bluegrass," call it "string band music for the 21st century" - whatever the name, there's a revolution under way where string band traditions meet youthful creativity; look right to its center, and that's where you'll find Bearfoot. The quintet, originally formed in Alaska, have already made a mark with four strong releases, including their 2009 Compass Records debut, Doors And Windows which instantly hit the top of Billboard Magazine's Bluegrass Album chart. Now, as they enter their second decade with a new Nashville home and a new lineup, (we have a real surprise in store for you at Bluegrass in the Park with Bearfoot's newest member, Nora Jane Struthers) Bearfoot have taken their place among the best and brightest of a new generation of musicians reshaping American roots music. A mere two years after their initial meeting teaching at their namesake's bluegrass camp for kids, Bearfoot earned one of roots music's most prestigious awards, the Telluride Bluegrass Band Champions, an honor they share with artists Dixie Chicks and Nickel Creek.

The Darrell Webb Band - Sevierville, Tennessee

Darrell Webb has been an icon for over 20 years in Bluegrass music, performing with the likes of the Lonesome River Band [BGIP, 1992, 2000], J.D. Crowe [BGIP, 2001], Rhonda Vincent and the Rage [BGIP, 1998], lead vocalist and front man for Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper [BGIP, 2009]. Darrell's stage presence and ability to entertain a crowd is unmistakable. One of his greatest attributes is being humble to the fans that support him and his talents are admired throughout the Bluegrass community.

On Bloodline, their first release, Webb's band - Jeremy Arrowood on tenor vocals and upright bass; Asa Gravley on guitar and harmony vocals; Tyler Kirkpatrick on resonator guitar; and Chris Wade on banjo - play some great tunes written by Larry Cordle [BGIP, 1993, 2002, 2008], Randall Hylton (BGIP, 1991, 1995), Jerry Douglas, and other Bluegrass superstars. You've seen Darrell at Bluegrass in the Park in other bands and now you will get to see him leading his own group and it will be a great show!

The HillBenders - Springfield, Missouri

Undeniably one of the hottest young band on the acoustic scene, The HillBenders have been winning over audiences from coast to coast with their unique style, original compositions and relentless drive. These buzz-worthy Bluegrass whiz-kids are quickly rising above many of their peers and gaining international recognition for their aggressive combination of contemporary influences with traditional inspiration and instrumentation, as well as their infectiously energetic stage performances. Claiming the championship title at the 2009 Telluride Bluegrass Band Competition helped put The HillBenders on the map, and their recent victory at the 2010 National Single Microphone Championships prove that they continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

The HillBenders released their debut album Down To My Last Dollar in spring 2010. Produced by Jeremy Chapman and featuring Jeremy Garrett of the Infamous Stringdusters on fiddle, this highly anticipated release is the first full-length effort from the group. With 11 of the 13 tracks on the album being original compositions, The HillBenders are giving listeners a truly unique experience far from the typical Bluegrass fare. Formed in the spring of 2008, the band's members hail from distant corners of the U.S. but now base themselves in Springfield, Missouri. Rooted in the traditions of Bluegrass, The HillBenders push the boundaries of the genre by combining influences from country, rock, blues, jazz and Americana into their sound to produce something entirely new. Some say it's newgrass, some say it's Bluegrass, some say it's neither, but everyone says that whatever it is, it's incredible!

Balsam Range - Haywood County, North Carolina

Meet Balsam Range! Tim Surrett delivers entertaining EmCee work as well as seasoned lead and harmony singing. Tim also plays bass most of the time, and he will occasionally move his talents to the resonator guitar. His presentations are spontaneous, polished and professional. Buddy Melton is one of the most gifted tenor voices in Bluegrass and Americana today. His range and tones largely give Balsam Range its identifying sound, and he is a stellar fiddle player. Caleb Smith has been called "one of the top young guns of guitar." His unique guitar style pairs perfectly with his energetic power singing. Caleb also delivers ballads with a perfectly toned tenderness. Darren Nicholson is one of the most gifted mandolin players and harmony singers ever to come from the Southern Mountains. Darren's studied, energetic performances rival those of the classic old guard performers, and his enthusiasm for American heritage music styles has no bounds. Marc Pruett plays traditional three finger banjo an intuitive and powerful way that blends and compliments the influences in the band of jazz, Bluegrass, country, gospel, swing, and old-time. Marc adds a credible entertainment experience of over 40 years to this fresh, unique Southern band. We are delighted to welcome Balsam Range to Henderson and Bluegrass in the Park.

King's Highway - Henderson-Owensboro-Rosine, Kentucky

We are marking the sixth straight that King's Highway has been taking the stage at the Bluegrass in the Park Folklife Festival. The 2010 audience gave the band several well-deserved standing ovations for some great classical Bluegrass music! If you have been to the festival before, you already know that they are a local band (Henderson, Owensboro, Rosine) and the guys who make up the group truly traditional Bluegrass tunes. Their popular hard driving sound and high tenor harmony is a favorite of festival listeners. Band members are Mark Hargis (mandolin), Josh Jonston (guitar), Kevin Bowlds (fiddle), Mike Fulkerson (banjo), and Ted Lolley (standup bass). King's Highway has a very strong Bill Monroe influence, and that is a fitting sound for this 100th anniversary of the birth of Bill Monroe.

Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice - Ferrum, Virginia

Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice are getting a lot of recognition as one of the best traditional bluegrass bands to hit the scene in decades. Junior's soulful and sometimes haunting vocals, reminiscent of the late, great, Carter Stanley, who happens to be his hero, have captivated audiences for years. With the brand new release of their sophomore project on Rebel Records, Heartaches and Dreams, the band has once again captured something magical. The pleasant mix of old and new is sure to offer something here for everyone. The pleasant mix of old and new is sure to offer something here for everyone. Joining Junior is long time singing partner and cousin Timmy Massey on bass, along with band members Jason Davis on banjo, Jason Tomlin on mandolin, and Billy Hawks on fiddle. This great band was just awarded the 2011 SPBGMA Bluegrass Song of the Year, Train Without A Track. The band is: Junior Sisk, guitar; Tim Massey, bass; Jason Tomlin, mandolin; Jason Davis, banjo; and Billy Hawks, fiddle. Bluegrass in the Park is thrilled to bring Junior Sisk and Ramblers Choice to our stage.

Nora Jane Struthers & the Bootleggers - Nashville, Tennessee

Nora Jane Struthers & The Bootleggers are a young acoustic quartet playing what they call, "Classic Americana" - music rooted in Bluegrass, old time, folk, western swing, and country. Shortly after their formation, the foursome was spring-boarded into the acoustic music spotlight when they journeyed out to Colorado and won the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Competition two days before Nora Jane's debut album hit the streets, in June 2010. The Bootleggers consist of Virginia native P. J. George on the upright bass and harmony vocals; Dave Goldenberg, a recent grad of Berklee School of Music, on mandolin; and veteran Nashville fiddler, Ward Stout.

Nora Jane fronts the band playing guitar and singing primarily her original songs. Bluegrass Unlimited says, "You'll probably hear the name Nora Jane Struthers in conjunction with Bluegrass awards for best emerging artist and top female vocalist. She writes with a clear-eyed traditional sensibility typically seen only in writers like Gillian Welch and Tim O'Brien, her songs sound immediately like pre-modern classics." Together, Nora Jane and The Bootleggers deliver a powerful live show, complete with red-hot fiddle tunes, tight harmonies, modern mournful ballads, flatfoot dancing, and even the occasional yodel; as The Nashville Scene says, "this outfit packs a potent punch." Bluegrass in the Park welcomes the band to our stage!

The James King Band - Danville, Virginia

The James King Band has been entertaining audiences to great traditional Bluegrass music all over the country for a long time. James and the band play Bluegrass in the style of other traditional greats like the Stanley Brothers and Del McCoury. James is known as the "Bluegrass Story Teller' (also the title of a 2005 Rounder release) for his soulful anecdotal tunes. His signature ballads are absolutely charged with heartfelt emotion. He is an eight time winner of the SPGMA "Male Vocalist of the Year" award. The James King Band is: James, guitar and lead vocals; Ron Spears, mandolin and harmony; Owen Piatt, banjo; and Bobby Davis, bass. Bluegrass in the Park is excited to bring this talented band to the Henderson stage!

Grass Pistols - Nizhny Novgorod, Russia

Grass Pistols is a Russian Bluegrass band from Nizhny Novgorod. The band plays a hard driving Bluegrass style. Most of their material is original and composed by the leader of the band Michael Dushin. As Country Saloon, they delighted audiences at Bluegrass in the Park last year and we booked them for the 26th Annual festival after learning that they would be able to return to the US again this year. The name change was an effort by the band to identify more with Bluegrass than country music. The band was able to play all over East Tennessee during their 2010 visit, but lists their Henderson performance as the highlight of their tour and well worth the distance they traveled to play. The name has changed but their love of the music has remained. Mikhail Dushin, banjo, vocal; Tatiana Pechenova, mandolin, vocal; Rinat Salimov, bass guitar, vocal; and Cory Jeter, guitar, vocal. We welcome the Grass Pistols back to Henderson, Kentucky, USA!

The Shade Tree Players - Henderson, Kentucky

The Shade Tree Players are a group of friends and enthusiasts who love to make music reminiscent of old time mountain tunes. The group uses a couple of mountain dulcimers as core instruments, but they also include guitar, ukulele, wash-tub bass, mandolin, and autoharp to round out their sound. The drone string on the dulcimers help to create a sound that is both beautiful and haunting, but also that reminds us of the musical heritage from which much of Bluegrass was born.

Keith Vincent - Henderson, Kentucky

Keith Vincent has been an active performing musician for over thirty years. He has at one time or another done duty as a front man for rock and country bands, a solo guitarist, studio musician, vocalist, and at present is performing as a solo acoustic act playing 150-200 dates annually. In addition to a large catalog of great original material his shows include acoustic favorites of the 60's, 70's and 80's as well as contemporary and classic songs gleaned from the rich arena of country music. An accomplished guitarist, he plays a variety of instrumental styles. Keith always delights and entertains audiences at Bluegrass and Breakfast in the Park!

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