Red Top's bluegrass concert series begins Saturday
by Marie Nesmith
May 18, 2012 | 2014 views | 0 0 comments | 12 12 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A popular offering of Red Top Mountain State Park, bluegrass concerts have drawn crowds in the hundreds. This year’s concert series begins Saturday with Counterpoint. Georgia DNR/Special
A popular offering of Red Top Mountain State Park, bluegrass concerts have drawn crowds in the hundreds. This year’s concert series begins Saturday with Counterpoint. Georgia DNR/Special
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The diverse sounds of bluegrass will ring out across Red Top Mountain State Park as Counterpoint performs Saturday. The 8 p.m. show will kick off the Cartersville venue's concert series that will feature a total of 12 bluegrass bands each Saturday through Sept. 1.

"Bluegrass is not just a singular type of music anymore," said Peggy Martin, who serves as the music coordinator for the Friends of Red Top organization. "Bluegrass is a whole spectrum from what used to be old country up to some amazing jazz work actually. So there isn't just one bluegrass anymore. [When selecting musicians] we try to stay within Georgia because there's a lot of terrific music in our state. So we aren't going out to bring bands in. And we want bands that are comfortable performing and delivering good music.

"We are not going just for big name always, although most of our bands are on the playing circuit certainly in [the Southeast and] Georgia. ... [Counterpoint] -- they've got terrific harmonies. They've got a dobro in the mix, which is not always there. They do a great job of some of the older bluegrass and gospel, and they get into some of the edgy stuff. One of their lead singers is female, Joy Smith, who sounds to me like Patsy Cline. She has done some singing in Nashville and at the Grand Ole Opry years ago. She's got a terrific voice. I think everybody enjoys hearing her, especially when we can coax her into doing a Patsy Cline number."

Following Counterpoint Bluegrass Band's performance, Red Top's concert series lineup will include, May 26, Suggins Brothers; June 2, Grass Backards; June 9, Apostles of Bluegrass; June 16, Wheelhoss; June 23, East Dixie Boys; June 30, De Ja Blue; July 7, Bullsboro; July 14, Counterpoint; July 21, Smokey's Farmland Band; July 28, Suggins Brothers; Aug. 4, Center Stage; Aug. 11, Old Dixie Highway; Aug. 18, Bullsboro; Aug. 25, Wheelhoss; and Sept. 1, Cedar Hill.

"It's been at least 10 years that we've been having these concerts, and they've grown and grown," said Damon Kirkpatrick, president of the Friends of Red Top, which funds and operates the concert series. "It used to be about every other weekend there would be a concert and now, obviously, we do them every Saturday night for the entire summer.

"They are such a big hit. We have people calling and asking about them, usually they start around February or March. If we haven't published the schedule, we start to hear about it because people really look forward to it in the summer. To be honest, it's Saturday night, it's a bluegrass concert with some great talent, it's all relatively local talent and it's a $5 ParkPass to get onto the park and that's all we charge. So for a whole family to go and have a great concert outside in the summer, it's a really good economic value to be able to get out and have some great family time."

Even though crowds range in size depending on the weather, more than 300 people have attended past shows. With seating available in the grounds around the park's Vaughan log cabin, patrons are encouraged to arrive early and bring a blanket or chair.

"We set the bands up on the porch of our cabin -- the 1830s log cabin -- and it just adds a great atmosphere," Kirkpatrick said. "With this music being traditional Appalachian music, that's exactly what would have been played on the front porch of that cabin.

"So it's a perfect fit. And then with the hill the way it is up to the cabin, there's plenty of room for seating, and we light the band up so you can see them. You can always hear them clear across the park. So it's a great location."

To support the series, "bucket" donations will be accepted at each concert. While admission to the event -- held behind the Park Office -- is free, individuals will need to have an annual pass or purchase a $5 daily ParkPass. For more information, call 770-975-0055 or visit www.GeorgiaStateParks.org.