The festival, which was free to attendees and featured 15 bands throughout the day, took place Saturday in downtown Cartersville. The main stage was devoted solely to bluegrass while the Firehouse Stage included an eclectic mix of folk, country-western, gospel and blues. The evening entertainment offered paid admission to performances by the Allman Brothers Band Tribute, Kent Hughes, Cigar Store Indians and Jus Clae at local venues. The kids had a corner of their own near the fountain where they fished with wooden poles, had their faces painted and competed in a coloring contest.
Just in front of the main stage, Andy Bowen, owner of Cohutta Fishing Company, welcomed visitors. He said, “I am a huge music fan and it is exciting to help bring this event to Cartersville. It is absolutely important to our community to provide opportunities like this for families to come out and enjoy the day.”
Over at the secondary stage set up in the bay of the old fire station, Cindy Smith of Alias, Smith & Owens prepared for the band’s afternoon performance. Smith along with her band partner and founding member, Randy Owens, dressed as the infamous, bank-robbing duo Bonnie and Clyde to celebrate the upcoming release of their newest project. Smith said, “We were chosen to perform our original songs about Bonnie and Clyde for a new movie called ‘Colt Love.’ Our songs, which we wrote to perform at the annual Bonnie and Clyde Festival in Gibsland, La., are part of the movie’s soundtrack. We are thrilled about this opportunity.”
The Bluegrass & Folk Festival isn’t the only chance locals have to hear the western duo; Smith and Owens are Cartersville residents. They meet the first Wednesday of every month downstairs at Jefferson’s Restaurant with the Cartersville Songwriters Exchange, an organization started by Owens and his wife, Patricia, to foster the art of songwriting, according to their website.
Smith, who grew up in a home filled with music from all types of genres, only began playing and singing less than a decade ago. She remembers after her children were grown she decided to pursue music. First, she learned to play mandolin and guitar, and then she began putting her voice to the music. Being a prolific writer with three published novels under her belt, she started to write her own songs. Now she is a two-time songwriter of the year winner and, also, CD of the year from the Georgia Country & Gospel Music Association.
One local resident, Robin Sutton, attended the festival with her two daughters, Saige and Kyah. “We drive all over to attend these kinds of festivals; it is so awesome to finally have one here in town. We love bluegrass music and this is such a treat with the two stages of music playing all day. I hope this becomes an annual event,” Sutton said.