The Southern Cove Fire Company has certainly learned about the power of music - and how to use it to their advantage.
Its second annual Southern Cove Bluegrass Festival will kick off July 9 in New Enterprise with more nationally acclaimed bluegrass acts and an even larger fundraising capacity for the volunteer fire company than last year. A Motorcycle Dice Run will also take place, with registration beginning at 9 a.m. on July 9.
"I think we're getting a lot more attention this year," said Southern Cove Fire Company President and festival coordinator Tina Walter, adding she has seen a lot of advanced ticket sales for the two-day event.
The Expedition Show (from left, Alex Hibbitts, Kimberly Williams, Wayne Southards and Blake Williams) will play the Southern Cove Bluegrass Festival on July 9 and 10.
Ten different regional and national acts will grace the stage of the festival, including performances by Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, The Expedition Show, Little Roy & Lizzy and the Allegheny Drifters. Bluegrass legend Doyle Lawson will also return for a second year, bringing along "old friends" J.D. Crowe and Paul Williams. The trio has been performing together following the release of their album "Old Friends Get Together." They will play at 8 p.m.
Walter said having the "Old Friends" tour and a repeat performance from Lawson and his band, Quicksilver, is a "really big deal."
If you go
What: Southern Cove Bluegrass Festival and Motorcycle Dice Run
When: Noon, July 9 and 10. Gates open at 9 a.m.
Where: Southern Cove Power Reunion Festival grounds, 145 Cave Road, New Enterprise
Details: Tickets are $20 for Saturday, $30 for Sunday, $45 for both days, $10 for children ages 5-12 and free for children younger than 5. For tickets, call 766-2676 or send ticket requests with check to the Southern Cove Fire Company, 3865 Brumbaugh Road, New Enterprise, PA 16664.
More information: www.southerncovebluegrass.com
"[Lawson, Crowe and Williams] are only going to do a certain amount of shows, then they're done," she said. "We're lucky to get them to do a show for us right here at the Cove."
Walters added Lawson has been very supportive of the festival, by doing everything from offering them a reasonable price for his performance to having his promoter help them book other acts.
"You can't go wrong with Doyle Lawson, no matter what you do," Walters said.
It's not only the locals and festival coordinators who are excited about the "Old Friends" performance. Russell Moore, frontman for Russell Moore & IIIrd Tyme Out, said it will be a treat for everybody, even the other musicians.
"I think that's going to be one of the highlights of the festival," he added.
Moore himself toured with Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver for six years before forming IIIrd Tyme Out in 1991. The band has since become a bluegrass powerhouse, including being named the International Bluegrass Music Association's "Vocal Group of the Year" seven years in a row. IIIrd Tyme Out will take the stage at 4:15 p.m. on July 10.
Moore said the band is looking forward to playing in the area and hopes for a great crowd. He added that he looks forward to helping out with fundraising events like this whenever he can.
"We love to play music, and we're fortunate to be able to do what we enjoy to make our living," he said. "It's always nice when you're able to give back to the bluegrass fans or communities we perform in."
Blake Williams, banjo player for The Expedition Show, said he, too, is looking forward to a "good, entertaining show" and performing for fans in the area. The band will take the stage at 2 and 7 p.m. July 9.
Williams, a Grammy award-winning banjo player who has toured with both Lester Flatt and Bill Monroe, said he's been fortunate to be a professional bluegrass musician for more than 30 years.
"I've had a real great life of bluegrass music," he said.
While on stage with The Expedition Show, Williams also takes on the role of comedian. He said in the early days of bluegrass, there was always a comedian in the band, so he performs some "country humor," like routines about kids or his fictitious cousin "Cricket."
"I really like hearing people laugh, and I think it's healing," he said. "Laughter is like changing a baby's diaper. It's not permanent, but it makes everything better for a little while."
Williams said people should stop by the festival because it will be a family-oriented show and they will meet "some of the nicest fans in the world."
"If they're never heard bluegrass before, I'm pretty sure they'll leave a fan," he added.
Moore also said the show should be fun for the whole family, and the fact that it's also a fundraiser makes it a "win-win situation."
"I hear people say you never meet a stranger at a bluegrass concert or festival," he said. "There really is truth to that."
Not only is bluegrass "clean, wholesome entertainment," Walter said, but the festival has become a very important event to the future of the fire company.
"This is what will keep the fire trucks on the road and keep the department alive," she said. "If [the community] wants to see those fire trucks moving they should come out and support [the event]."
Staff writer Beth Ann Downey is at 946-7520.