American roots music is alive and well.
The Southern Cove Volunteer Fire Company in New Enterprise has put together a bluegrass festival featuring legendary bluegrass artists Rhonda Vincent & The Rage and Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver. The show, which coincides with a motorcycle dice run, will be held from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday at the Power Reunion Festival near New Enterprise.
"I have a very good committee who thought I was crazy when I dreamed this idea up," Tina Walter, festival coordinator and president of the fire company, said. "But because they are all dedicated workers and wanted to see this become a reality as badly as I did, they worked very hard to help organize and plan all of the day's events. I personally have enjoyed the looks on people's faces and the shock in their voices when they hear me say, 'Doyle Lawson and Rhonda Vincent will be there.'"
Bluegrass great Rhonda Vincent will be part of a benefit concert with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver Sunday on the Southern Cove Power Reunion Festival Grounds, 145 Cave Road, New Enterprise.
The festival is a fundraiser for the fire company, she said, adding she has "enjoyed bluegrass for many, many years," playing the music herself in several bands.
"I enjoy the good, clean, wholesome music and friendships among the bluegrass crowd," Walter of New Enterprise said. "And as a female vocalist myself, I have always loved Rhonda Vincent's music. Even the younger crowd can relate to that name since she's on the radio every day. And there is no greater legend in bluegrass music than Doyle Lawson. ... He's recorded some of the best traditional bluegrass ever played."
Vincent, a virtuosic mandolin player, is now considered the "Queen of Bluegrass" by the genre's most avid fans, and has won numerous awards through her four decades performing bluegrass, including the International Bluegrass Music Association "Female Vocalist of the Year" seven times in a row from 2000 to 2006, the festival's release states. The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America named her "Entertainer of the Year" for 2010. She was also nominated for a Grammy this year for her latest single, "Sweet Summertime."
If you go
What: Southern Cove Volunteer Fire Company's Bluegrass Festival and Motorcycle Dice Run, featuring Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and Rhonda Vincent
Where: Southern Cove Power Reunion Festival grounds at 145 Cave Road, one mile west of New Enterprise on Route 869
When: 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
Admission: Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for children between the ages of 5 and 12, free for children age 5 and younger
More information: Call 814-766-2676 or visit southerncovebluegrass.webstarts.com
In 2009, Vincent began recording and touring the festival circuit with her new band, The Rage, which consists of Aaron McDaris on banjo, guitarist Ben Helson (who once toured with Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder), fiddler Hunter Berry and bassist Mickey Harris.
"From what I understand, this is the first year for the festival, so I'm real excited about it," Vincent, 47, said in a phone interview from her home in Green Top, Mo. "We've never been (to New Enterprise), but we have a lot of friends in Pennsylvania, and it's always fun to go to new places."
Vincent got her start in bluegrass as a child member of her family band, Sally Mountain Show, she said, and has since made her way through country and bluegrass circuits recording and performing with renowned musicians such as Dolly Parton (with whom she duets on her latest album "Sweet Summertime"), Tanya Tucker, Merle Haggard, George Jones, Martina McBride, Alan Jackson and Faith Hill.
"It's been a constant quest to make great music with great people," she said. "I'd say my proudest achievement so far is having Dolly (Parton) work with me on my new album. It's a treat and an honor for me to say that Dolly is a friend."
She described her live show as a "fun and high energy" performance that also includes gospel music and ballads.
"Bluegrass is a family thing," she said. "We want to invite everyone, and we want everyone who comes to have as much fun as we're having. Just expect to come out and have a good time. We're really looking forward to being there."
Lawson, 66, has performed bluegrass since first discovering the mandolin at age 6, the release states. He and his group Quicksilver have been the IBMA'S Vocal Group of the Year from 2001 to 2007. They've recorded dozens of albums, the latest being "Light on My Feet and Ready to Fly" - another gospel-bluegrass effort.
"I've been coming to Pennsylvania for more years than I can remember," he said in a phone interview from his home in Bristol, Tenn. "Folks in Pennsylvania have really supported us. They really love their bluegrass and gospel music."
Quicksilver is comprised of Corey Hensley on guitar, Dale Perry on banjo, Jason Barie on fiddle, Josh Swift on Dobro and bassist Jason Leek.
He hopes people take away an appreciation for bluegrass, even if it's not their musical cup of tea.
"We're gonna do our best to entertain you and put a smile on your face," he said. "You can't be all things to all people, but I'd say just give us a chance."
Vincent will perform two shows at 5:30 and 7 p.m.; Lawson at 3:45 p.m., Walter said, adding the bluegrass portion of the festival will kick off at noon with Southern Cove Fire Company Firemen's Choir singing a few songs, followed by numerous local and regional bluegrass bands performing, including Easy Street Blue Grass, Thunder Creek Bluegrass (both from Virginia) and Blue Shades (from central Pennsylvania).
The festival begins with motorcycle registration for the dice run starting at 9 a.m. at Northern Bedford High School, with all bikes on the road at 11 a.m. The motorcycles will finish the ride and take the last roll of the dice at the Southern Cove EMS building where they will have a chicken barbecue and numerous door prizes. Concession stands open at 11 a.m. with multiple food items available. Southern Cove Auxiliary will have a bake sale, and other vendors will sell a wide variety of foods.
Two wooden mandolin plaques, one autographed by Lawson and the other by Vincent, will be part of a fundraiser. Festival-goers should bring their own lawn chairs.
"We are already talking with big-name musicians for next year in the event that this year is the success we hope it is," Walter said, adding that advance tickets are selling briskly "all over Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and even some in Ohio."
"We want everyone to go away feeling the show was worth the investment, and we also want the fire company to have raised enough money to set aside funds needed to hire musicians for next year as well as pay down some substantial debts," she said. "The more money we get this year, the better chance we have of seeing it happen again next year and in years to come."
Mirror Staff Writer Jimmy Mincin is at 946-7460.