Known for his humorous and melancholy tones, folk singer Jim Haigler is looking forward to entertaining his hometown at the third annual Cartersville Bluegrass & Folk Festival. In his second appearance at the festival, Haigler will share the stage with fellow Bartow musicians Natalie Goodwin and Rick McKee.
“At the festival, I will be singing mostly original material with a few covers from the ’60s,” Haigler said. “I will do ‘Last Train to Glory,’ which has been well received and has a strong, upbeat gospel flavor.
“I performed at this festival two years ago but was out of town last year. It is a real pleasure to sing to an audience that actually listens to the words you are singing, which this venue offers. It is wonderful to have such a festival here and people [seem] to really enjoy the bluegrass in particular. I hope the performances will reinforce the appreciation and love for these musical styles and encourage more establishments to offer live musical entertainment.”
Now 72, Haigler was introduced to folk music as a freshman at Georgia Tech in the early 1960s. Delving more into the genre, he established the folk trio The Dear John while serving in the Army and the quartet Back Porch Revival during the mid-1970s, which performed in north Georgia for 25 years. Lately, he is writing and singing original music at various charity events and local venues, such as Ascension Coffee House, the Clarence Brown Conference Center, The Loft, Jefferson’s and Cartersville Country Club.
“In the last several years, I began to write and perform my own songs that reflect my background in folk music, both in picking style and storytelling,” Haigler said. “I enjoy performing humorous material, such as ‘Smokin’ Fool’ and ‘Golf is a 4 Letter Word,’ and the smile or chuckle they enlist from the audience.
“... I enjoy performing folk music because it generally tells a story or delivers a message, at least my songs do. I also feel very comfortable playing the folk-style guitar, having done it for many years, and I feel pretty confident in my ability in that area. The chord progressions in most folk music and the vocal harmonies are very appealing to me and most audiences seem to really enjoy them. I am actually working on a song that begins ‘I’m just an old folk singer, spreading my stories in song; On some I invite you to listen; On others please sing along.’”
Presented by the Cartersville Downtown Development Authority and Main Street Program, the Cartersville Bluegrass & Folk Festival will feature 14 musical acts on two stages Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. in downtown Cartersville.
“The purpose of the Bluegrass & Folk Festival is to attract lots of people into our beautiful downtown and to have a fun and unique event in historic downtown Cartersville,” said Hollie Duncan, special events coordinator for the Cartersville DDA. “Events like this are planned and implemented to try and get more foot traffic with the hope that the more people there are downtown, the more likely they are to shop, dine or visit one of our great downtown attractions. There are lots of other wonderful festivals throughout Cartersville-Bartow County, but there is nothing quite like the Bluegrass & Folk Festival.
“The idea for a bluegrass festival in Cartersville really came from the passion of several board members. One board member’s father is in a bluegrass band, and she grew up listening to the music. A couple of others are passionate bluegrass fans who attend concerts and festivals all over the Southeast and across the United States. Bluegrass is just one of those genres that seem to appeal to a broad range of people, and it has proven to be successful the past couple years here in Cartersville.”
With performances at two locations, music will be presented on the Depot Stage next to the train depot in Friendship Plaza and the Firehouse Stage, located in the old fire station’s bay beside Cartersville City Hall.
According to www.cartersvillebluegrass.com, the Depot Stage’s lineup will include 11 a.m., Dixie Fire Cloggers; 11:30 a.m., Scarlet Wool Band; 12:30 p.m., Old Mill Road; 1:30 p.m., Luther’s Mountain; 2:30 p.m., Fish & Picks; 3:30 p.m., Windfall; 4:30 p.m., Cherokee Cutups; 5:30 p.m., Curtis Jones & the Primal Roots; and 7 p.m., The Roys. Performing on the Firehouse Stage will be noon, Georgia Mountain String Band; 1 p.m., Jim Haigler; 2 p.m., Rick McKee and Natalie Goodwin; 3 p.m., The Owens Brothers; 4 p.m., Conservation Theory; and 5 p.m., City Hotel.
“Out of the 14 bands that will be performing at this year’s festival, we have quite a few who are local,” Duncan said. “Jim Haigler, Old Mill Road Band, The Owens Brothers, Windfall, Luther’s Mountain band, Natalie Goodwin and Rick McKee are all based out of Cartersville-Bartow County.
“Along with all of these wonderful musicians, the public will be able to listen to a variety of bluegrass and folk music at the festival. Headlining our [Firehouse] Stage, the City Hotel will be performing at 5 p.m., and headlining our Depot Stage, The Roys will be performing at 7 p.m. The full schedule with all the bands and their bios is listed on www.cartersvillebluegrass.com. Our goal is that there is music that will appeal to a wide range of people.”
Continuing to build on its inaugural event, the Cartersville DDA and Main Street Program will broaden the scope of this year’s festival. The event will include the creation of a festival zone to permit the sale of alcohol, an expanded vendor area and a new, covered pavilion.
“At the first annual Bluegrass & Folk Festival, we had a great response,” Duncan said. “Around 2,000 people were in attendance throughout the day. There were 14 bands on two stages, five downtown vendors, a kids’ area and several wonderful sponsors. Last year’s festival was even more successful. The DDA received an award from the Historic High Country of Association Excellence for having the best event with 2,500 [plus] people in attendance. There were 13 bands on two stages, 25 vendors, a kids’ corner and lots of great sponsors. This year, our hope is to continue gaining momentum. There will be 14 bands on two stages, the Dixie Fire Cloggers will be performing, 30 vendors, a kids’ corner sponsored by Coosa Valley Credit Union, and more sponsors than we have had in the previous two years.
“... There are going to be two changes to this year’s event. The biggest change is that we will be utilizing a festival zone, which means that adult beverages will be permitted within the festival boundaries. We are extremely excited about this, and so is our sole alcohol vendor, Mellow Mushroom. The other change this year is the addition of more vendors at the event. ... The vendors this year include arts and crafts, food, retail and service providers. We have a wide variety of vendors this year, and I think this will allow folks plenty to see and do in between catching the musical performances.”
Open to the public, the rain-or-shine event will be free of charge for attendees.
“At its root, this is an event that was created for the community,” said Lillie Read, manager of the Cartersville DDA and Main Street Program. “As such, my hope is that the community will be able to come and enjoy a day of music and entertainment in a great environment. To me, coming downtown is all about the experience, so if people are able to come and visit with friends, relax, explore, listen to music and take away great memories as a result, then I will feel like the event has been a success.
“One key difference, in my opinion, [between this festival and others] is that this event is free, which many aren’t. While it may not be the largest or the longest running bluegrass event in north Georgia, and although there isn’t camping or multiple days of music, what we do have is an event that was created for the sole purpose of providing a fun and engaging experience for the community. I think that is underscored by the sheer number of local groups that we have participating. This isn’t just an event where the local community comes to watch — this event is sponsored, planned, staffed and driven by the community.”
For more information about the Cartersville Bluegrass & Folk Festival, visit www.cartersvillebluegrass.com or call 770-607-3480.