Fines Creek Bluegrass Jam features local favorites

By Mary Ann Enloe | Aug 06, 2014

August is bluegrass festival time, and one of the best in the area comes up Aug. 8 and 9 in Fines Creek.

The Fines Creek Bluegrass Jam on the grounds of the old Fines Creek School has been around for awhile and they know how to do it.

"It gets better every year," said Patricia Fricks, who helps organize the outdoor concert. "Tell folks to pack up their lawn chairs and come on down to Fines Creek for some great family-friendly fun."

A coup this year is corralling white-hot bluegrass-and-more band Balsam Range while they're home. Balsam Range has three songs in the top 10 playing today on bluegrass satellite radio, all from their smash album "Five."

Haywood County's own internationally known award winning band will be headlining the Saturday show which opens at 3 p.m. and goes until 11 p.m. The band is looking forward to a rare performance at home, according to social media posts by band members Marc Pruett, Tim Surrett and Darren Nicholson. Buddy Melton and Caleb Smith round out the roster.

Others on Saturday's bill are the popular Dismembered Tennesseans making a return visit to the Fines Creek Jam, Buncombe Turnpike and Barefoot Nellie & Company, along with clogging dance teams. Eddie Rose and Highway 40 keep toes tapping on Friday.

A well-known sought-after singer, Rose is remembered by local folks as the backbone of Hazelcreek, a popular band he and Highway 40 bass player Gary Allen performed with decades ago.

"Gary and I kept Hazelcreek going on for about 25 years," Rose said.  "I started Highway 40 about three years ago and I asked Gary and David Leatherwood last year to join me.  For me, this was not a regrouping but a reunion."

Seth Rhinehart is Highway 40's talented banjo player.  Roger Lephew plays mandolin.

"We play Fines Creek when we can," said Rose, who appeared at the Jam last year. "It's a great venue and we're glad to have it going on in Haywood County."

Whitewater Bluegrass Company also performs on Friday. Crowd pleasers for 31 years, the popular regional band is still headed up by founders Ted White and Bill Byerly, now joined by mandolin player Dave Pendley, fiddler Danielle Bishop and International Bluegrass Music Association award winner Steve Sutton on banjo.

Up-and-coming Mountain Faith will entertain, along with youth clogging team Fines Creek Flatfooters.

From barbecue to funnel cake, festival food is plentiful. T-shirts designed by Tracey Palmer and supplied by Rikki-Tikki T's are considered collectors' items. The Fines Creek Community Association (FCCA) sells cold beverages, ice cream and coffee supplied by Smokey Mountain Roasters.

The FCCA produces the Bluegrass Jam as its only fundraiser for college scholarships which have been awarded annually since 1997. Last year, seven students from the old Fines Creek school attendance area were scholarship recipients.

Tickets are $15 Friday and $20 Saturday. Those under 16 are admitted free if they're with a paying adult.

The Fines Creek Bluegrass Jam is sponsored in part by the Haywood County Arts Council, the Haywood County Tourism Development Authority and Blue Ridge Music Trail.  For more information, see http://www.finescreek.org/.

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