Southern Sounds

If you’re a fan of old-time, bluegrass and gospel music from the Southern Appalachian region, the 15th annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Ga., will be the place to be on Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17. Glenda Pender, president of Bear on the Square and chairperson for the festival’s music and program, said this year’s MainStage Tent performers will provide a heavy emphasis on hand-clapping, toe-tapping music which originated from the mountains and valleys of the Southern Appalachians.

PICTURESQUE SCENE from 2010 Bear on the Square Festival shows Artist Marketplace in progress around Historic Public Square. (Photo by Margo Booth)

Headlining the lineup and performing together will be legendary fiddler James Bryan from Mentone, Ala., and Carl Jones, a Macon native and award-winning performer who now lives in Galax, Va. Bryan, a member of the Alabama Music Hall of Fame, is generally considered the best traditional fiddler playing today, while Jones, who has toured internationally and is a sought-after instructor, plays the mandolin, banjo and fiddle and is also a songwriter. Bryan and Jones have toured with Norman and Nancy Blake and the Rising Fawn String Ensemble. Other nationally known groups and individuals who will appear onstage during the event include two Athens bands, The Packway Handle Band and Curley Maple featuring David Blackmon; multi-talented performer John Lilly from Charleston, W. Va.; Red June, based in Asheville, N. C.; and two Dahlonega acts, the Curtis Jones Band and singer/instrumentalist Sonny Houston.

LOCAL FAVORITES The Buzzard Mountain Boys will perform in the MainStage Tent. (Photo by Margo Booth)

Local and regional groups scheduled to appear on the MainStage include the Buzzard Mountain Boys with Barefoot Creek; Gold Rush with Neel Pender; Whitepath; The Rosin Sisters with Whit Connah and George Norman; Camp Creek Committee; The Solstice Sisters; BlueBilly Grit; Ugly Cousin; and the Georgia Pick & Bow Band. Pre-festival events for the 2011 festival will take place on Friday, April 15, with the start of jamming on Dahlonega’s Historic Public Square, as well as Master Classes in the afternoon and the Live Country Auction that night. Shoal Creek will be the featured band at the auction. On Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17, the juried Artist Marketplace featuring traditional mountain crafts, as well as a Country Store, will be open around the square. The John C. Campbell Folk School is bringing several artists who will be demonstrating their work at the Artist Marketplace. There will be more jamming on the square and music workshops on Saturday and Sunday, Saturday appearances at the Visitors Center plaza by dance teams from the John C. Campbell Folk School, a Sunday morning Gospel Jam led by Glenda Pender, a Saturday evening old-time Mountain Dance, and family activities. For more details about the festival, including the schedule of MainStage Tent performances, participating artists, activities, sponsors and updates between now and the event, visit http://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 with the mission of preserving and celebrating the culture of the Southern Appalachians through the presentation of music, traditional craft and folkways. Tax deductible donations are welcome and can be sent to P.O. Box 338, Dahlonega, GA 30533.

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Jimmy Booth

Jimmy Booth

Lifelong Georgia resident Jimmy Booth, who was a longtime Atlanta area journalist and public relations consultant, moved in fall of 2006 from Peachtree City, Ga., to Dahlonega, Ga. He and his wife Margo have become involved with several Dahlonega-based not-for-profit cultural arts and historical organizations working to keep alive the traditional mountain music, art and folkways which are a vital part of the area's heritage. Jimmy graduated from Emory University, where he served as editor of The Emory Wheel. During his journalistic career, he worked as publisher or editor of several Georgia weekly and small daily newspapers, and he was a section editor for The Atlanta Journal and Constitution. Now officially retired, he handles publicity for some of the events and organizations in the Dahlonega area.