Great Smoky Mountains National Park hosts its fourth annual "Music of the Mountains" festival on Saturday, March 28, in partnership with the City of Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains Association. This year's festival features a series of free performances by various artists during the day at the Park's Sugarlands Visitor Center followed by a special evening performance headlined by local performer Jimbo Whaley at W. L. Mills Conference Center. "Music of the Mountains" is a celebration of musical traditions of the southern Appalachian Mountains, showcasing the evolution of mountain music over time. The festival is one of several special events the Park has developed to tell the story of the people who lived here prior to the Park's establishment in 1934. "Musical expression was and still is often a part of daily life in the southern mountains, and mountain music is tied to Smokies history like no other part of our culture," said Kent Cave, North District Supervisory Park Ranger.
The event starts at 10 a.m. with an array of traditional musical performances at the Sugarlands Visitor Center Theater. Seating in the theater at Sugarlands Visitor Center is limited to 160 persons per concert, and is on a "first come, first served" basis.
The six concerts below are free to the public:
- 10 a.m. Tony Thomas - Introduction to old-time banjo and fiddle tunes
- 11 a.m. Lost Mill String Band - Joan and Jerry Paul playing claw-hammer banjo and acoustic bass
- Noon and 1 p.m. Matt Morelock and Brian Vollmer - Old-time songs using claw-hammer banjo and fiddle
- 2 p.m. Bobby Fulcher - Songs and tunes from the Appalachian and Cumberland Mountains using claw-hammer banjo and guitar
- 3 p.m. Boogertown Gap - Traditional tunes and songs from Ruth Barber and Keith Watson using claw-hammer banjo and guitar
- 4 p.m. Sparky and Rhonda Rucker - Folk songs, ballads, and tunes from Appalachia and the Civil War period
Following the Sugarlands Visitor Center concerts, the festival will be capped off with an evening concert by "Jimbo Whaley and Friends" at W. L. Mills Conference Center in Gatlinburg starting at 6:30 p.m. Whaley is a well-known bluegrass and gospel musician and singer from Sevier County, Tenn., and traces his ancestry back to residents of what later became Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Whaley has played in many music events around the nation, and with notable bands such as "Pine Mountain Railroad" and "Greenbrier." "We're pleased again to partner with the City of Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountains Association to offer the public a variety of musical styles for this year's 'Music of the Mountains' festival," said Park Superintendent Dale Ditmanson. "Our staff has lined up a wide spectrum of old-time, traditional, and bluegrass music performers. With the change to an all day festival we hope to allow more of our visitors to experience the rich traditions of mountain music," he continued.