Bluegrass Association kicks off series


First Posted: 1/15/2009

LUMBERTON -- The bluegrass is beginning to sprout in Robeson County.
Jimmy Bowen & Santa Fe and The Wells Family will perform Saturday in the Lumberton High School auditorium.
The event is being put together by the newly formed Lumber River Regional Bluegrass Association (LRRBA), which plans to have a monthly musical event.
Ernie Thacker and Route 23, and The Grass Cats will perform Nov. 23. Thacker is a former member of Ralph Stanley's Clinch Mountain Boys.
A tentative Dec. 14 concert is also in the planning stages.
The non-profit organization will have events the fourth Saturday of every month at the Southeastern Agricultural Center, beginning in January.
The 15-member board of LRRBA was formed in May and immediately began a charter membership drive.
Two months later 100 charter members had their names in ink. Charters memberships cost $100.
A regular membership in LRRBA is $15 for individuals and $25 for a family. Members attend free, and admission to Saturday's show is $10 for non-members.
The doors will open at 4 p.m. for folks to sign up, listen to the open jam pickin' and grinnin' session or to bring their instruments for the open stage portion.
The concert begins at 7 p.m.
The organization stresses music and entertainment in a wholesome family atmosphere. No alcohol will be allowed.
“We've worked hard to bring good groups for the people of the county and also expect there to be as many from out of town because of who we have,” said Roger Sessoms, LRRBA first vice president. “Our intent is to provide good music and promote tourism.”
Bowen, a native of North Carolina who now lives in Lebanon, Tenn., is no stranger to bluegrass music, having paid his dues as a member of Country Gentlemen, and David Parmley and the Continental Divide.
The mandolin player who sings high tenor lead then formed his own group around three musical talents: banjo player Gary Reece, guitarist Ron Lane and bassist John Pennell.
Wilbur Britt, LRRBA president, has seen Bowen perform at three different stages of his career and said to expect an entertaining showman.
“It's going to be fantastic,” he said. “When he was in college he was an excellent singer for his father's group in the mid-'70s. In the early '90s I caught him a couple of times and he got much better.”
The Wells Family, who have roots in Clayton, likewise have an embedded love for their craft. Gary Wells formed the group around wife Debi and their three daughters: Sara, Jade and Eden.
Gary Wells plays mandolin, upright bass and banjo. Debi, who homeschools her girls, plays guitar, sings and writes original tunes for the band.
Sara plays the upright bass, five-string banjo and sings tenor and lead. She has her high school diploma and attends photography classes part-time at Johnston Community College.
Jade, in her final year of high school, plays mandolin, piano and sings lead and harmony. Eden, an eighth-grader, tickles the fiddle.
For information on LRRBA call Wilbur Britt at 739-2935 or Rogers Sessoms at 739-2011.
Bluegrass on the radio.
-- Bob and Sara show: Wednesdays 7 to 10 p.m. on WFSS, 91.9 on the FM dial.
-- Pine Cone Bluegrass show: Sundays 7 to 10 p.m. on WQDR, 94.7 on the FM dial.
-- Hills of Bluegrass with Randy Holms: Saturdays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on WPYB, 1130 on the AM dial.
-- Weekend Festival with Buddy Michaels: Sundays 8 a.m. to noon on WKIX, 101.1 on the FM dial.

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