2008-05-01 / Front Page

Bluegrass fans flock to Elijah Clark Park for annual festival

The 21st Annual Lewis Family Homecoming & Bluegrass Festival will be held Thursday through Saturday, May 1-3, at Elijah Clark State Park. In addition to The Lewis Family (pictured), the event will also feature Jimmy C. Newman, The Grascals, Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press, Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys, Dailey & Vincent, The Primitive Quartet, The Chuck Wagon Gang, and other bluegrass greats. The 21st Annual Lewis Family Homecoming & Bluegrass Festival will be held Thursday through Saturday, May 1-3, at Elijah Clark State Park. In addition to The Lewis Family (pictured), the event will also feature Jimmy C. Newman, The Grascals, Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press, Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys, Dailey & Vincent, The Primitive Quartet, The Chuck Wagon Gang, and other bluegrass greats. The sound of banjos, mandolins, and fiddles will echo throughout Elijah Clark State Park when the 21st Annual Lewis Family Homecoming & Bluegrass Festival gets underway today (Thursday)

The festival will continue through Saturday, May 3.

Leading the impressive line-up of talent are The Grascals, IBMA (International Bluegrass Music Association) "Entertainers of the Year" in 2006 and 2007 (Thursday); Bobby Osborne & the Rocky Top X-Press, stars of the Grand Ole Opry (Saturday); and of course, members of Lincoln County's own Lewis Family, hosts of the event (two shows daily).

As the reigning IBMA Entertainers of the Year, the six Grascals are carving out quite a name for themselves. The group consists of Terry Eldredge and Jamie Johnson, vocals and guitar; Jimmy Mattingly, fiddle; Aaron McDaris, banjo; Danny Roberts, mandolin; and Terry Smith, vocals and bass.

THE GRASCALS THE GRASCALS Concerning other IBMA honors, The Grascals were designated as "Emerging Artists of the Year" in 2005, and they captured "Song of the Year" honors for "Me and John and Paul," written by Harley Allen.

Moreover, both of their albums, The Grascals and Long List of Heartaches, earned Grammy nominations for the "Best Bluegrass Album."

The Grascals have also been rec- ognized by the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Gospel Music of America (SPBGMA). Earlier this year, the group was named "Instrumental Group of the Year" for the third consecutive year and "Bluegrass Band of the Year" for the second consecutive year. In addition, Danny Roberts took "Mandolin Player of the Year" honors, his second win in three years.

During its relatively short career, the band has performed with Dolly Parton and shared the bill with the likes of Jo Dee Messina, Kenny Rogers, Charlie Daniels, Earl Scruggs, Emmylou Harris, George Strait, Brooks & Dunn, Willie Nelson, Patty Loveless, Dierks Bentley, Phil Vassar, and Neal McCoy.

A legendary giant in the world of bluegrass music, Bobby Osborne continues to be on the cutting edge of the art form. His instantly recognizable, quality high lead and tenor voice as well as his inventive mandolin stylings remain unsurpassed.

After joining the Grand Ole Opry in 1964, Osborne and his brother, Sonny, who retired in 2004, became one of America's favorite bluegrass bands. Their best-known song, "Rocky Top," is the most popular single bluegrass vocal song ever recorded.

Other classics include "Ruby," "Tennessee Hound Dog," "Midnight Flyer," "Georgia Pineywoods," "Lisall tening to the Rain," and "Up This Hill and Down."

In 1971, The Osborne Brothers were named the "Vocal Group of the Year" by the CMA (Country Music Association) and went on to place in the top five in this category for six years in succession. Likewise, they were designated as the "Bluegrass Band of the Year" for 10 consecutive years in polls conducted by the "Music City News," a Nashville publication.

Among the highlights of their career was a command performance at the White House in 1973. The brothers were also the first country or bluegrass group to play in the main room at Harrah's Club in Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

The Osborne Brothers are members of both the Bill Monroe Bluegrass Hall of Fame and the IBMA Hall of Fame, bluegrass music's most prestigious honor.

Bobby Osborne keeps the brothers' legacy fresh by continuing to tour, performing approximately 50 to 60 concerts each year.

Although many big names in bluegrass music will be taking the stage at Elijah Clark Park this weekend, the hearts of the audience will once again belong to The Lewis Family - "America's First Family of Bluegrass Gospel Music."

Now in their 57th year of performing, members of The Lewis Family have delighted fans from coast to coast with their dazzling musical talent and friendly, down-home approach to people and life. The group is comprised of "Little Roy" Lewis, Polly Lewis Copsey, Janis Lewis Phillips, Miggie Lewis, and Lewis Phillips.

In addition to other commitments, The Lewis Family is a top headliner each year at 50 or more of the nation's major bluegrass festivals and is verifiably the most in-demand act on the circuit.

To date, they have recorded more than 60 albums and eight videos. Their latest CD, titled Handpicked, contains some of the group's mostrequested songs such as "Somewhere Somebody is Praying for Me," "A Rose in the Bible," "You Can't Stop Time," "He Still Looks Over Me," "I'm Walkin' and Talkin'," "Angels Gathering Flowers," "There's Never an Unguarded Moment," "I Believe in the Lord," "When Our Lord Shall Come Again," "If We Ever Needed the Lord Before (We Sho' Do Need Him Now)," and "One Rose."

On a side note, fans are certain to enjoy a CD/DVD of a live concert at the Blackmon Amphitheatre in Mt. Airy, North Carolina, featuring The Lewis Family, Jeff & Sheri Easter, and The Easter Brothers. The album is titled We Are Family. (Sheri Easter is Polly Copsey's daughter.)

Other recent albums by The Lewis Family include Flying' High and One Rose, a CD recorded in memory of Roy "Pop" Lewis, Sr., the patriarch of the gifted musical family, who passed away March 23, 2004, at the age of 98. "Just One Rose Will Do" was Pop's signature song. Among other accolades, he was a recipient of the "Diamond Lifetime Achievement Award."

In 1992, Pop and his famous offspring were inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The family has received numerous other honors over the years including GMA (Gospel Music Association) Dove Awards for the following songs: "He Still Looks Over Me" (1999); "So Fine" (2000); and "I'm Walkin' and Talkin'" (2003).

The Lewis Family was likewise presented with a Dove Award for its 50th anniversary CD in 2003. Moreover, in 2005, the group garnered a fifth Dove Award, designating its CD, Angels Gathering Flowers, as the "Album of the Year." The title was song was written by Tom T. Hall and his wife, Dixie, in memory of Pauline "Mom" Lewis, who passed away February 8, 2003.

The Lewis Family earned a sixth Dove Award when One Rose was named the "Album of the Year."

In what was one of the highest points of the group's career, The Lewis Family was inducted into the GMA's Gospel Music Hall of Fame during a special ceremony held at Trinity Music City in Hendersonville, Tennessee, in February of 2005. Membership in this elite club is the highest honor an individual or group can receive in the field of gospel music.

Furthermore, in September of 2006, the family was inducted into the IBMA Hall of Honor.

In 2007, the Lewis Family captured two more Dove Awards, one designating "My Cross" from the Flyin' High CD as the "Bluegrass Recorded Song of the Year" and the other naming Flyin' High as the "Bluegrass Album of the Year."

Last year also marked the passing of Wallace Lewis on May 16. The guitar picker and prolific songwriter was one of the founding members of the Lewis Family. He is sorely missed.

Slated to join the Lewis Family on stage during the festival are Dailey & Vincent (Friday); Jimmy C. Newman & Cajun County (Saturday); Jesse McReynolds & the Virginia Boys (Friday); The Primitive Quartet (Saturday); The Chuck Wagon Gang (Friday); The Golden Valley Crusaders (Friday); Heaven's Echoes (Friday); Lizzie Long & Friends (all three days); The James King Band (Thursday); Carolina Sonshine (Thursday); Lonesome Will Mullins & the Virginia Playboys (Thursday); The Jones Brothers & the Log Cabin Boys (Saturday); and Barry Scott & Second Wind (Saturday).

A large tent is being provided so the show can go on rain or shine; also, hot food will be available on the premises. Guests are asked to bring lawn chairs. High-backed chairs and lounge chairs will not be permitted.

Show times are from 1 until 10 p.m. on Thursday and from 12 noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. There will be an open stage approximately one hour before the festival gets underway each day.

Sound is being provided by Gene Daniell, with Sherry Boyd of Mt. Airy serving as the emcee.

Admission is $30 per person Thursday, Friday, and Saturday. Three-day adult tickets cost $85 each. A special "after 6 p.m." ticket costs $20.

Children's tickets (ages 6-13) are $15 a day or $40 for all three days; whereas, children under the age of six, accompanied by a parent, will be admitted free of charge.

Visitors to the park are reminded that all Georgia Parks charge a $3 entrance fee.

For more information about the festival, call the park office at 1-706- 359-3458 or The Lewis Family at 1- 706-359-3767.

The festival is organized and promoted each year by Norman Adams and Tony Anderson of Adams and Anderson, LLC.

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