What started out in 2007 as a Christmas concert for children with developmental disabilities has evolved into a music and arts festival for everyone. It is being held for the fourth time on Saturday, Nov. 12.
“The children really got into our music, and it was so much fun to play and sing for them that we left Lynndale that day feeling so good about it,” said Augusta musician Eryn Eubanks.
“My dad and I had been tossing the idea around of hosting a music festival, and so we got to talking with the Lynndale people about it with the idea that proceeds go the Lynndale center. That led to our first festival being held at Lynndale on June 14, 2008.”
The first two years, the festival was held at the Lynndale school and training center off Eisenhower Drive. Because weather can make outdoor events chancy, the festival was moved to Julian Smith Casino in 2010.
This year, however, it will be held from noon to 8 p.m. at the new Kroc Center, 1833 Broad St. Admission is $10, with children 12 and younger admitted free. There will be bluegrass, folk, classic country, gospel and other roots music, arts and crafts events and dancers. Sconyers barbecue also will be for sale. Visit eryneubanks.com for other details.
The move to the Kroc Center is logical because the Salvation Army arts, sports and religious complex is in tune with Eubanks’ own deeply held faith, and it’s also where she teaches music.
“The more you hang out there, the more you love it,” she said, “and the Salvation Army officers and workers are tremendous people, good as gold.”
Eubanks and her band, The Family Fold, performed at the center’s grand opening.
Aside from Eubanks, 23, her band consists of her father, Patrick, on percussion; her mother, Ricie, on upright bass, penny whistle and flute; and friends Jim Jewell and Mike Merritt on guitars.
“This year marks 10 years that we have been together as a band,” Eubanks said, “and over those 10 years, I’ve come to realize more and more that it’s not just about getting to play music. It’s about forming friendships with people and helping them out if you can with what’s going on in their lives. Music is such a powerful bridge that can bring people together, and this festival celebrates that fact.”
IF YOU’VE LIVED in the Augusta area for a few years, it’s about impossible not to have crossed Eubanks’ path somewhere. She’s been busier than ants at a picnic ever since her performing career took off at age 12.
She and her band have played at music and arts festivals, private parties, museums, theaters, nursing homes, civic clubs, church groups, restaurants, wedding receptions and on the Augusta Canal cruise boat.
At 12, she was playing mandolin and upright bass for an after-show party at the Pinnacle Club after The Augusta Ballet’s production of The Legend of the Hatfields and McCoys. Also by that age, she was playing upright bass in the Richmond County String Orchestra and also in the Greater Augusta Youth Orchestra.
Readers of Augusta Magazine voted her Augusta’s best performing artist and female vocalist in 2004 and her group the best Christian/Gospel band every year since 2004, except for 2010, when readers voted her group the best bluegrass band.
She writes many of her songs, sings beautifully, plays about 15 instruments, including the mandolin, guitar, banjo and fiddle, and has recorded six albums: Demos (2001), The Atlanta Sessions (2003), Hope (2004), Live (2007), Original (2009) and Original II (2010).
Among her musical compositions is the score for the documentary film Displaced: The Unexpected Fallout From the Cold War, produced by Mark Albertin.
Most every Saturday, from 4 to 6 p.m., you can find her in the fellowship hall of Bible Deliverance Temple at Eve and Fenwick streets leading a free acoustical jam session. Anyone can bring an acoustic instrument and play along.
You also can find Eubanks preaching at 6 p.m. the first Sunday of each month at Bible Deliverance Temple.
Oh, did we mention that she became an ordained minister at age 16 and has conducted funerals?
The second Friday of each month, at 6 p.m., she can be found performing in the dining room of St. John Towers on Telfair Street.
As if all that isn’t enough, she also has been honored by the Augusta Genealogical Society as its first honorary junior member (2004), has been hosting her own Comcast cable TV show for several years and also is an accomplished watercolor painter.
Eubanks says she would not be half of what she is today without the generous help of loving friends who taught her how to be a better painter, musician and overall good person.
“My mom was a classical musician who played the flute as probably the youngest member of the Augusta Symphony at age 16,” Eubanks said. “Her parents were music teachers, with her mother playing the piano and her father playing on the trumpet. Her father also at one time was the leader of the Fort Gordon band.”
She especially credits her parents and uncles for getting her interested in the guitar and mandolin; Jim Gensheer for teaching her about painting; her grandmother Emmie with inspiring her about ministry; Pam Dutch for teaching her about playing the upright bass; Ed Hurt and Henry Courtney for teaching her about Appalachian music and playing the mandolin; Margaret Frost for teaching her about pre-1940s classic country music; and Tom Fonville for getting her to play the fiddle.
“It may seem like everything just fell together for me,” Eubanks said, “but I credit the Lord in piecing it all together with my life and living my life to serve my Lord.”