The Freight Hoppers
Dahlonega's Bear on the Square Mountain Festival will present another lineup of bluegrass and old-time musicians during its 18th annual celebration scheduled the fourth weekend in April.
The 2014 festival in and around Dahlonega's Historic Public Square is being held a week later than usual to avoid a conflict with the Easter weekend. Pre-festival activities will start around mid-day on Friday, April 25, as early-arriving musicians start tuning their instruments for the jamming on the square, which will go on all weekend. The other Friday event will be the Live and Silent Country Auction that night in the MainStage Tent, and the auction band this year will be Smokey's Farmland Band, a well known Atlanta-based group which produces "good time eclectic bluegrass" music.
The list of MainStage performers on Saturday and Sunday includes many returning bands that have drawn large and appreciative crowds to the big tent, and also some new faces for Bear. Once again this year, admission to the festival's MainStage concert tent will be free. The complete list of performers includes the following:
BlueBilly Grit - A Northeast Georgia group which has a huge fan base here, this band is still riding the surge of its recent stage appearance at the prestigious Telluride Bluegrass Festival.
The Freight Hoppers - This high energy old-time string band from Bryson City, N. C., which has over 20 years as a performing group, last appeared at Bear on the Square in 2009.
Erynn Marshall and Carl Jones - From Galax, Va., this couple will bring its own brand of Southern old-time song duets and fiddle/banjo/mandolin tunes to Bear. Marshall is a Canadian fiddler who settled in Appalachia, and Georgia native Jones is a well known performer and songwriter who has appeared at past Bear festivals.
Sons of Bluegrass - Coming to Bear for the second consecutive year is this upcoming group of high caliber bluegrass majors from East Tennessee State University.
Curtis Jones and Primal Roots - Instrumentalist/singer/songwriter Jones, a Dahlonega resident who has traveled the world as a musician, will once again appear with Mountain Gypsy Project.
John Lilly - An award-winning singer/songwriter from West Virginia, Lilly is a longtime favorite with audiences at events in Dahlonega, including the Bear festival.
Jason Kenney and Leah Calvert - Dahlonega native Kenney, who honed his musical skills at local venues, including Bear, will perform with Atlantan Leah Calvert, who previously appeared here with the Dappled Grays.
Locust Honey String Band - This group of talented young female musicians from Swannanoa, N. C., who first came to Bear last spring, blends sweet harmonies with raging old-time fiddle tunes.
DejaBlue Grass Band - This versatile five-piece instrumental ensemble from Atlanta, which uses a single mic setup, is making its debut at Bear and has also appeared at the Telluride festival.
Playing on the Planet - From Ducktown, Tenn., this "cosmic rocking' boogie grass" group maintains a busy schedule of performances in locations throughout the Southeastern states.
Pick & Bow All-Stars - These are advanced students from the Lumpkin County after school program which teaches youngsters how to play stringed instruments and sing traditional music from the Appalachian region.
A two-hour Tribute to Zak McConnell, the 26-year-old Dahlonega musician who died unexpectedly on Oct. 29, 2013. McConnell was the founder of The Fiddleheads, known for its appearances on NBC's "America's Got Talent," and performed with other local bands and musicians.
The Sunday Morning Gospel Jam, one of the event's most popular programs, will again be led by Glenda Pender, the co-founder and current president of Bear on the Square Mountain Festival Inc., and will feature gospel songs from many MainStage performers as well as other regional and local musicians.
The Bear on the Square Festival celebrates the culture of the Southern Appalachians through the presentation of music, traditional craft and folkways. A juried Artists Marketplace on Saturday and Sunday features traditional mountain crafts. Other highlights of the event include more jamming on the square, free music workshops/demonstrations, and storytelling on Saturday and Sunday; an Acoustic Open Mic event on Saturday afternoon; a Saturday evening old-time Mountain Dance; Master Music Classes on Sunday; and food. For more details about the festival, including the complete lineup of performers and artists, schedules, and updates between now and the event, visit www.bearonthesquare.org.
Bear on the Square Mountain Festival, Inc., which stages the festival each year, is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit cultural arts organization dedicated to preserving the culture of the Southern Appalachian region. Tax deductible donations to help the organization pay for producing the show each year are welcome and can be sent to P.O. Box 338, Dahlonega, GA 30533.