PICKIN’ AT BIG LICK – The retro-looking Malpass Brothers will be one of the bands performing at the 14th Annual Big Lick Bluegrass Festival, April 6-8. The group is recognized for having opened for Merle Haggard at Merlefest and having played with top country and bluegrass stars. The festival will be held at the Big Lick Festival Park, on N.C. 205, between Albemarle and Oakboro.
Big Lick Bluegrass Festival features old and new musicians
BIG LICK, N.C. – Once you have seen a bluegrass band in action, on stage, you’re hooked. There’s a chill that runs up your spin when you first see a mandolin player in action. The sound of so many notes, seemingly being strummed all at once, vibrates to your bones. The strings are plucked so fast, by so many fingers, that your eyes just go blurry.
Steve Dilling, with Sideline, is one such captivating mandolin player who will be performing at the 14th Annual Big Lick Bluegrass Festival, at the Big Lick Festival Park. Big Lick could be called a wide spot in the road, on N.C. 205 between Albemarle and Oakboro. Signs will direct you there.
This year’s show will be held April 6-8, with Open Mic on the first night, followed by two days of heart-beating, eyes-boggling bluegrass.
You might not think that bluegrass has a following in Canada, but it does. The headliner for the 14th Annual Big Lick Bluegrass Festival is The Spinney Brothers. They have appeared at Big Lick in the past, putting on a humorous and entertaining show.
“We’re going this year,” said Katie Danielle, of Seagrove. “I haven’t been able to go the past couple of years, so I’m excited about this year’s show.”
The festival line-up begins on Thursday night, at 6 p.m., with Open Mic. Historically, the festival has enjoyed a large turnout as area bands take to the stage.
On Friday, April 7, the fun begins at 1 p.m. with the Wood Family Tradition, a new North Carolina bluegrass band, The Renaissance Band, from Bethel University, in Tennessee, Deeper Shade of Blue, from Monroe, and wraps up with Sideline, bringing Dilling and Skip Cherryholmes, who once performed and danced his way into bluegrass hearts with the Cherryholmes Family Bluegrass Band.
On Saturday, April 8, show time is noon with the prodigy bluegrass stars of The Renaissance Band from Bethel University. They will be followed by The Spinney Brothers, Flat Lonesome, Junior Sisk and the Malpass Brothers, from Goldsboro.
With puffed up hair and long sideburns, the retro-looking Malpass Brothers toured with the late Don Helms and opened for Merle Haggard from the Shetland Islands – to Ryman Auditorium – to Merlefest. They have shared billing with Ray Price, Willie Nelson, Doyle Lawson, Rhonda Vincent, Marty Stuart, Doc Watson and others.
Jeff Branch, festival organizer, is thrilled with this year’s group of artists, saying “They bring musical brilliance and engaging performances to the stage and many have fans across the country.”
“Flat Lonesome is an incredible band with a lot of talent and potential,” said Marty Brown, of Logan, Ohio. The former North Carolinian rarely missed a festival. “The Malpass Brothers and Flatt Lonesome – love those guys,” said Jim Thompson, of Raleigh.
Daniel Coston, of Charlotte, and author of North Carolina Musicians: Photographs and Conversations, said, “The Big Lick Bluegrass Festival is the place to see and hear a lot of great music, surrounded by friends and the open air. I enjoyed it so much that I featured it in my book.”
Vivian Hopkins, president of the N.C. Bluegrass Association, said “Bluegrass music, with its name derived from Bill Monroe and His Bluegrass Boys from the Bluegrass State of Kentucky, is a true American roots music influenced by the music of Appalachia which blends together Irish, Scottish, English and African-American music. We will be celebrating this music style at the 14th Annual Big Lick Bluegrass Festival.”
Decades ago, Big Lick was once a town, but one night burned to the ground. A salt lick and a couple of houses remain. The Big Lick community is named for the large salt lick, which once attracted many deer.
Admission to the 14th Annual Big Lick Bluegrass Festival is $75 for a 3-day ticket. Individual day tickets are: Thursday, adults $10, teens ages 12-16, $5 and free for kids under 12; Friday, adults $30, teens ages 12-16 $10, and free for kids under 12; Saturday, adults $35, teens ages 12-16 $10, and free for kids under 12.
Concession stands with food and music will be available. Bring a lawn chair. Photos permitted.
The Big Lick Festival Park is located at 640 South Oak Ridge Road, Oakboro, just off N.C. 24/27 south of Albemarle. For information, visit www.BigLickBluegrass.com or call organizer Jeff Branch at 704-985-6987.