Ramblin' Rhodes: Hear bluegrass, gospel stars at Little Roy & Lizzy festival

Rhonda Vincent and Lizzy Long hold the 2015 Dove Award for Bluegrass Song of the Year from the Gospel Music Association for their duet God Is There.

If all goes well, those attending the fourth annual Little Roy & Lizzy Music Festival on Friday, April 29, possibly will get to hear at least two unscheduled duets.


The reason this could happen is:

Rhonda Vincent and The Rage are scheduled to perform at 3 p.m. and again at 7:40 p.m. that day at the festival again being held at Elijah Clark State Park, 10 miles east of Lincolnton, Ga., off Georgia Highway 378.

Gene Watson is scheduled to perform with his Farewell Party Band at 8:30 p.m. that same day (one 90-minute show).

Lizzy Long will be performing with Little Roy Lewis at 2:10 p.m. and 6:50 p.m. that same day.

All of that is important in knowing that Long and Vincent won the 2015 Dove Award for Bluegrass Song of the Year from the Gospel Music Association for their duet recording of God Is There off Long’s debut solo album Blueberry Pie.

And it is significant in knowing that Vincent teamed up with Watson to record the title track for Watson’s 2011 album Your Money and My Good Looks.

“I thought I was just recording harmony for the master track on part of the song,” Vincent told me a couple of years ago. “But the producer said, ‘Let’s start over, and you sing all the way through the song.’ I later got a version sent by e-mail with a note saying, ‘Here is your new duet with Gene Watson.’

Watson and Vincent ended up doing an entire album of 12 songs together with reviewer William Ruhlmann noting on the site allmusic.com, “Gene Watson and Rhonda Vincent display considerable chemistry on their duet album Your Money and My Good Looks. Watson boasts a light ingratiating country tenor, while Vincent is a more strident alto, which tends to reverse the expected sound in male/female singing, although it is not unlike the classic sound of George Jones and Tammy Wynette in some respects.”

So knowing all of this, it sure would be a waste of a day if Long and Vincent didn’t team up for God Is There and Vincent and Watson didn’t team up for at least one or more songs off their duet album.

Either way, it still will be a great day to be at the festival with other entertainers to include Golden Valley Crusaders, Phillip Steinmetz & His Sunny Tennesseans and Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers.

The festival is taking place from Thursday- Saturday, April 28-30, with performers beginning at 11 a.m. each day followed by the featured entertainers performing continuously until about 10 p.m.

The lineup on Thursday will be Karl Shiflett & The Big Country Show, Nothin’ Fancy, David Church (seen on RFD-TV), The Little Roy & Lizzy Show and Jeff & Sheri Easter (7 p.m. only).

The lineup on Saturday will be The Marksmen, The Band Kelley, Ronnie Reno & The Reno Tradition, The Spinney Brothers, The Little Roy & Lizzy Show and the band Shenandoah with lead vocalist Marty Raybon (one 90-minute show beginning at 8:30 p.m.

Admission is $35 advance or $40 at the gate for each of the three days or $85 advance or $90 at the gate for all three days. Ages 7 to 13 are $15 per day. Ages 6 or younger are admitted free.

Tickets and festival information can be found at adamsbluegrass.com.

The Little Roy and Lizzy Show was created in 2009 just before The Lewis Family legendary bluegrass-gospel group disbanded.

Other family members including Janis Lewis Phillips and her son, Lewis Phillips, and nephew, Travis Lewis, ended up creating their own group The Lewis Tradition.

For a couple of years, The Lewis Family’s annual festival near Lincolnton was discontinued, but Lewis and Long revived it in 2012.

Long in 2007 joined banjo-playing legends Lewis and Earl Scruggs to create the album Lifetimes. She stepped into her own spotlight with her debut solo album, Blueberry Pie, in 2015.

It is an amazingly enjoyable album full of surprises including her haunting version of the ballad Feed The Birds (Tuppence A Bag) from the movie Mary Poppins. It is just not what you expect on a traditional bluegrass album, and yet it fits right in perfectly with the other selections.

And as mentioned, there is that great Dove Award-winning duet God Is There with Vincent as well as stand-outs Love I’m In Love featuring Ernie Haase & Signature Sound, Backwoods Lullaby featuring Destiny Rambo McGuire (Dottie Rambo’s granddaughter) and Figueroa Mountain featuring Sam Bush.

Long said she originally planned for Blueberry Pie to be “straight up bluegrass,” but she decided to make it “something more” since her influences also include Dolly Parton, Fleetwood Mac, Mahalia Jackson, Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Hank Williams, Merle Haggard and Walt Disney.

She co-wrote four of the album’s 11 songs and co-produced it with Kevin Ward at kiloWatt Studios in Murfreesboro, Tenn., for the Vine Records label.

All I can say is, if you are at the Little Roy & Lizzy Long festival, make a bee line for their merchandise table and buy a copy of Blueberry Pie. It’s finger-licking and easy-listening good for sure.

And if you can’t be there, order a copy or two from the usual sources. You’ll be glad you did.


ED TURNER AND NO. 9 IN WAYNESBORO: The last season offering of the Waynesboro-Burke County Concert Series is Ed Turner and No. 9’s Rock and Soul Revue at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, April 30, at the Burke County High School Auditorium.

Tickets are $30 for adults and $5 for children. Buy online at burkeconcert.org or itickets.com or call (706) 437-0070.

The night will consist of classic rock and pop songs from the 1960s and ’70s.

Joining Turner will be No. 9 members Zach Swenson (drums, vocals), Steve Swenson (percussion), Ryan Abel (lead vocals), Duane Wilson (bass and vocals), Michael Vincent Baideme (guitar) and Phillip Lee (guitar and vocals) as well as a horn section.

In January, the group performed with Symphony Orchestra Augusta at Bell Auditorium. The group has raised more than $800,000 for area charities.

Proceeds from the Waynesboro show will benefit the Educational Outreach Performances of the concert series that helps expose area children to a broad range of musical styles.


10TH ANNUAL BEECH ISLAND TOUR: One of the big annual money raisers for the Beech Island Historical Society is its one-day, self-guided tour of private historic homes and other area places.

The 10th annual tour will be 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, April 30, with a barbecue lunch served at the society’s Visitors Center, 144 Old Jackson Highway, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Kathwood Plantation, built in 1903, and Rose Hill, built from 1859-1861 are part of this year’s tour.

Tickets are $25 the day of the tour or $20 in advance or $20 for ages 60 and older the day of the tour or $15 bought in advance. Ages 17 and younger can tour for free.

Tickets are sold at Beech Island Historical Society; Handy Hardware, 257 Beech Island Ave.; Historic Augusta, 415 Seventh St.; Estate Jewelry, 506 Georgia Ave., North Augusta; and Aiken County Parks, Recreation & Tourism Visitors Center, 113 Laurens St., Suite 103, Aiken. Visit beechislandhistory.org.


WHAT: Fourth annual Little Roy & Lizzy Music Festival

WHEN: April 28-30; music from 11 a.m.-10 p.m.

WHERE: Elijah Clark State Park, Georgia Highway 378, 10 miles east of Lincolnton, Ga.

COST: $35 advance or $40 at the gate daily; $85 advance or $90 at the gate for all three days; ages 7 to 13 $15 per day; ages 6 and younger, free