Ramblin' Rhodes

Stroll down memory lane with music columnist Don Rhodes.

Ramblin' Rhodes: The Whiskey Gentry part of Banjo-B-Que musical feast

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You can count on enjoying another great weekend of country and bluegrass bands at the fourth annual Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Bluegrass Festival at Evans Towne Center Park.

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The Whiskey Gentry will take the stage at Evans Towne Center Park at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, for the fourth annual Papa Joe's Banjo-B-Que & Bluegrass Festival.  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
The Whiskey Gentry will take the stage at Evans Towne Center Park at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 24, for the fourth annual Papa Joe's Banjo-B-Que & Bluegrass Festival.

Admission is $15 for Friday, May 24; $20 for Saturday, May 25; or buy a weekend pass for $30. Tickets are available at A.B. Beverage in Evans and Aiken; Communigraphics in North Augusta; Fireside Outdoor Kitchens & Grills in Augusta and online at www.banjobque.com.

One of the popular bands back for the festival this weekend will be an Atlanta group called The Whiskey Gentry.

They are scheduled to take the stage at Evans Towne Center Park at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 24.

“This will be our fourth time at the festival,” said lead singer Lauren Staley Morrow in a recent call.

Besides Morrow, the band consists of her husband, Jason Morrow, on guitar and also Chesley Lowe, banjo; Sammy Griffin, bass; Price Cannon, drums; Michael Smith, mandolin, and the most recently hired member, Rurik Nunan playing fiddle.

The band’s name comes from writer Hunter S. Thompson describing patrons of the Kentucky Derby as “the whiskey gentry” comprised of “a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis.”

That certainly, however, doesn’t exactly apply to the Atlanta bluegrass group whose dreams of show business success continue to get bigger each year.

Although the band only has been around since 2009, fans love their unique blend of bluegrass, country, punk rock and folk.

“We signed on with a booking agent at the beginning of this year that has been keeping us busy with a bunch of markets we’ve never been before,” Morrow said.

June alone will find the band performing in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York and a popular barbecue place called Hill Country in Washington, D.C.

“These guys from Austin, Texas, have these barbecue restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C., that are always packed,” Morrow said. “We played the one in New York, and it was awesome. So they invited us to come to their D.C. location.”

She also noted that the group’s nicely packaged and critically praised CD Please Make Welcome “has been a really good springboard for us.”

It was recorded in the spring of 2010 in Athens, Ga., with well known producer John Keane, who also produced the group’s new CD due out this summer.

“We’re planning a CD release party Aug. 17 at Center Stage in midtown Atlanta,” Morrow said. “We’re still mapping out exactly what is going on the record, but it will have 15 songs, with the majority of them being new ones. It’s working title is Holly Grove, which is a new song wrote and brought to the band.”

Knowing of The Whiskey Gentry’s love for classic bluegrass-folk songs about tragedies (Eula Mae is about a woman killed in a bad storm when she picks up a fallen electrical wire), the natural question for Morrow is, “Who dies in this one?”

Morrow laughed and replied, “Well, actually, a little kid, but it’s an upbeat song musically. It’s even got horns playing on the end of it.”

MUSIC FESTIVAL

WHAT: Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Bluegrass Festival

WHEN:

Friday, May 24: Gates open at 5 p.m.; steak and kids’ cook-off competitions

• 5:15 p.m.: Seven Handle Circus

• 6:30 p.m.: The Whiskey Gentry

• 8 p.m.: Chatham County Line

• 9:30 p.m.: Carolina Chocolate Drops

Saturday, May 25: Gates open at noon.

Saloon Stage:

• 4:15 p.m.: Sibling String

• 5:30 p.m.: The Ramblin’ Fevers

• 7 p.m.: The Little Roy & Lizzy Show

• 8:55 p.m.: The Brothers Comatose

Main Stage:

• 12:45 p.m.: The Ramblin’ Fevers

• 1:50 p.m.: The Little Roy & Lizzy Show

• 3:15 p.m.: The Brothers Comatose

• 4:45 p.m.: barbecue awards

• 6 p.m.: The Steeldrivers

• 7:40 p.m.: Jerry Douglas Band

• 9:35 p.m.: Trampled by Turtles

WHERE: Evans Towne Center Park, 7016 Evans Towne Center Drive

DETAILS: Proceeds benefit the Joseph R. Pond Memorial Foundation; bluegrass music, petting zoo, pig races, children’s playground and a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned event with pit cookers from across the nation competing for $40,000 in prize money.

TICKETS: $15, Friday, May 24; $20, Saturday, May 25; children 12 and younger free, $5 discount for active military and law enforcement with valid ID; weekend pass $30; available at A.B. Beverage in Evans and Aiken; Communigraphics in North Augusta; Fireside Outdoor Kitchens & Grills in Augusta and online at banjobque.com


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