Thursday, February 24, 2011

The 18th Annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival

Earlier this week the Activities Council of Thomson, Inc. announced the lineup for the 18th Annual Blind Willie McTell Blues Festival, to be held on Saturday, May 21, 2011. The annual one day fest, voted by Southeastern Tourism writers as one of the top small cultural events in the Southeast, will be held at the regular festival site, on Stagecoach Road, 300 yards off Washington Highway, north of Thomson, Georgia.

The event is held each year to bring great music and musicians to the rural South, as well as pay tribute to country blues legend McTell, a Thomson native son, born and buried in the Happy Valley area of McDuffie County. The small town feel and exceptional quality of the music presented year in and year out, makes the McTell Festival a special event indeed. Annually, the organizers strive to feature artists who offer the best in American music, focusing on the styles of Americana, folk, gospel, rock, blues and all its variations….players that our smaller market can support; music played by folks at the top of their game. Again, that’s what will be presented in Thomson on 2011

This year’s stellar roster features headliner and closing act Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue, and includes Marcia Ball, Sonny Landreth, Jimmy Hall & the Prisoners of Love featuring Jack Pearson, the Georgia Horns featuring Chris Crenshaw and Marcus Printup, Jack Pearson, Atlanta's Mark Miller & Travelin Shoes, and Crosstie Walkers.

The jazzy, funk side of blues will be represented at the festival in the form of none other than Trombone Shorty, along with his combo Orleans Avenue. This act is one of the hottest touring bands today and they’ll come through Thomson after working the Main Stage at New Orleans Jazzfest in April, 2011. His latest disc “Backatown”, released in 2010, was nominated for a GRAMMY and currently sits in the top 10 on Billboard’s jazz charts. Says New Orleans native Troy Andrews or ‘Shorty’, “What we do is just another word for 'gumbo . . . we make different music fit in one mixture that has a funky and huge rock edge to it.” The McTell Fest has never really featured great horn players and what an act to get it started.

Four time GRAMMY Nominee Marcia Ball knows how to get after it onstage with her infectious and emotional brand of rollicking, roadhouse blues and ballads. Over the course of her three-decade career, Ball and her crackerjack combo have earned a huge and intensely loyal following all over the world. Her piano playing and passionate, playful vocals fuse New Orleans and Gulf Coast R&B with Austin's deep songwriting tradition into a sound all her own. Ms Ball has been to Thomson before as our headliner and after a ton of requests from our patrons, we are glad she is coming back to east Georgia. She’s the winner of eight Blues Music Awards - four wins in the last five years for Best Piano Player, plus recent wins for Best Contemporary Blues - Female Artist (twice), and once each for Contemporary Blues Album for So Many Rivers and Blues Album of the Year for Presumed Innocent. Her latest release, titled Peace, Love & BBQ debuted at #1 in the Billboard Blues Charts.

The rest of the artists in this year’s lineup are equally as impressive as our headliners. Jimmy Hall & the Prisoners of Love featuring Jack Pearson are the very essence of a harmonica based, soul-shouting, blues combo. Pick up a copy of Hall’s “Rendezvous with the Blues” prior to the festival if you need any more proof. With Jack Pearson, one of Nashville’s premier players holding down guitar, this band will be something to see. Hall led 70’s southern rockers, Wet Willie, and sings, plays harp and sax, is a favorite of Georgia audiences.

Along with Jack Pearson (who’ll play a mini-set on his own), we’ll also feature another absolute guitar giant, Sonny Landreth. Landreth also comes from Louisiana and his style of playing the slide guitar is nothing short of phenomenal. He’s been leading a trio for awhile, but check the collaborations that he keeps and you can tell that he’s a guitar player’s player. His latest disc, From the Reach, features guitar duets on Landreth originals with the likes of Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Eric Johnson, Robben Ford, and Vince Gill, to name a few. He’s working on a new disc, to be released this spring, and he’ll make it into town on the heels of an appearance on the Main stage of the N.O. Jazz Fest as well.

Crosstie Walkers from Thomson usually represent east Georgia at the festival and they’ll be opening up again this year. But along with this Thomson band, we’re proud to present another act this year with local roots. In a combo put together especially for the festival, we’ll present the Georgia Horns, featuring Thomson’s Chris Crenshaw on trombone and Conyers native, Marcus Printup on trumpet.

Both Chris and Marcus have regular jobs playing and touring in New York’s Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis. Crenshaw has been itching to play here in his hometown for awhile, and we were finally able to squeeze his booking into his busy schedule. The set will be called Swinging the Blues with the Georgia Horns. Along with Crenshaw and Printup, local sax player, Stantawn Kendrick will be in the sextet as well.

Newcomers, Mark Miller and Travelin Shoes, a gospel and blues based string band from Atlanta, will be featured this year. These guys just released a set of Willie McTell gospel tunes called Ain’t it Grand…the Gospel Songs of Willie McTell and if you like McTell’s music, you’ll love these interpretations.

Mentioned earlier, Thomson’s Crosstie Walkers will also open up the day at the 2011 event. They will be showcasing music from over twenty years of playing together, both originals and covers that they make their own.

As in years gone by, there will be an array of vendors serving traditional Southern food and beverages…..ribs, chicken, fish, Cajun, great dishes that go hand in hand with the music that will be on tap that day. Carry in food and drink will not be allowed. Children 12 and under are admitted free. Advance tickets for the Saturday afternoon show will be $25. Tickets will go on sale in mid-March, and will be available locally at the Chamber office, as well as, on line at For info, visit or the Blind Willie McTell Facebook page.
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Buckhead Theatre Presents: Robert Earl Keen in March, Brooke Fraser in June

Tickets On Sale Saturday, February 26, 2011

Robert Earl Keen
Thursday, March 31, 2011
Doors open at 8 p.m.

Buckhead Theatre
3110 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30305

TICKETS: $26 adv
On sale Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 10am
Show is general admission and open to all ages.


Robert Earl Keen, one of Texas’s best-known alt-country/folk artists, returns to the Buckhead Theatre March 31, following up a sold-out concert in November. Recording since the early 1980’s, Keen has been wowing country fans for years with over 15 albums of well-loved country music. Known for his extensive touring and incredible live shows, Robert Earl Keen grew in popularity in the 1990’s with a touring schedule that often included 200 tour dates per year. A dedicated and talented musician, fans should grab tickets now as this show is sure to sell out again.

Brooke Fraser
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
Doors open at 7 p.m.

 Buckhead Theatre
3110 Roswell Road
Atlanta, GA 30305

TICKETS: $20 adv - On sale Saturday, February 26, 2011 at 10am
Show is general admission and open to all ages.


New Zealand’s Brooke Fraser is known for heart-wrenching, confessional lyrics layered over haunting folk-pop melodies. Fraser has toured Australia and New Zealand with artists including John Mayer and David Bowie, and her last headlining Atlanta show sold out. Trained in piano as a child and self-taught on guitar, Fraser has been a staple of the Contemporary Christian and folk scenes since her 2003 debut What To Do With Daylight. She followed that album up with 2006’s Albertine, inspired by her time with disadvantaged children in Africa. Now touring in support of her third album, Flags, Fraser will play the Buckhead Theatre for one night only June 7.

Buckhead Theatre Shows On Sale Now:

Friday, February 25: Old 97’s, Those Darlins | $20 adv
Saturday, March 19: Cloris! A One Woman Show | $30, $50, $75
Friday, March 25: Randy Rogers Band, Stoney LaRue | $16 adv, $21 at the door
Friday, May 20: Of Montreal, Modern Skirts, Painted Palms | $23 adv

Buckhead Theatre has received recent accolades for its diversity of programming as well as the many sold out, critically acclaimed artists that have come through the six month old venue. Recent sold out shows have included: Scissor Sisters, Drive-By Truckers, Indigo Girls, Mumford & Sons, Robert Earl Keen, Dresden Dolls and Pat Green.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Charlie Daniels In Concert March 5, 2011 - 7 PM

Tickets on Sale Now
Ticket Prices are $35 + $2 Handling & $25 + $2 Handling

Charlie Daniels began writing and performing country music in the early 1950s. In 1964, Daniels sold one of his songs, "It Hurts Me" to Elvis Presley. Charlie Daniels recorded his first major hit, "Uneasy Rider" off his second, 1972 album. He won a Grammy for Best Country Vocal in 1979 for "The Devil Went Down to Georgia". Other hits include "In America", "The South's Gonna Do It", "Long Haired Country Boy", "Still in Saigon", and "The Legend of Wooley Swamp".

Don't miss legendary, Charlie Daniels as he takes the stage on March 19, 2011. The concert will be held in a 2900 seat, Air Conditioed hall at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds located in the beautiful mountains of Hiawassee, Georgia. Tickets go on sale February 4th and prices are $37. For more information visit us online or call (706-896-4191).

HOW TO BUY TICKETS: Tickets are available at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds Office, Online, Or by phone (706) 896-4191.
The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds
Highway 76, West of Hiawassee, GA 30546
(706) 896-4191