Acoustic Music Festival at Rock Creek Saturday

Friday, May 14, 2010

What started in the backyard of a Chapel Hill-area resident has grown to become an acoustic musical festival rivaling what's heard from many Nashville stages.

Started four years ago at Gary Francis' home on Horton Highway, the String Fling is moving to Lewisburg's Rock Creek Park on Saturday with a lineup of impressive musical talent.

Performers at the free concert -- 1-9 p.m. -- include:

* Songwriter Irene Kelly who has penned hits with Alan Jackson, Loretta Lynn, Ricky Scaggs, Trisha Yearwood, Bill Anderson and other stars.

* Donna Ulisse who's been songwriting and recording since moving to Nashville in the early 1980s. She's performed on "Nashville Now," "Hee-Haw," "Hot Country Nights" and more. Along with her band, the Poor Mountain Boys, the recording artist is hitting her stride with a new CD called "Walk This Mountain Down."

* The band Flashpoint. Its musicians combine more than 30 years of experience and talent into a package of bluegrass music recalling the legendary Flatt & Scruggs and Bill Monroe. The band performs all across the country.

* Jay Clark, a singer/songwriter with three CDs to his credit. His off-beat brand of country music has made him a hit and h is recent performance on "Jammin' at Hippie Jack's." is on YouTube.

* Kenny and Amanda Smith who made their name in bluegrass by winning the International Bluegrass Music Association's Emerging Artist Award in 2003. Five records later, the duo has earned both Grammy and Dove Nominations for their gospel song "Tell Someone" and they continue to tour the country as one of the top bluegrass and gospel performers today.

"This is a fantastic lineup," said Francis, who has a recording studio at his home. "Lewisburg should be very proud to have these talented performers coming to their stage."

Frances, the operations director at Teledyne, is the founder of String Fling. He has been playing bluegrass music for several years. Along the way, he made friends in the business and decided to host a "little" festival in his backyard at Chapel Hill. In three years, the festival attracted 400 people to his property. A field just south of his home required organized parking.

Clearly, the festival outgrew the backyard, so Francis and his friend, Bruce Keedy of Tennessee Acoustic Music, asked Lewisburg city leaders about having the festival at Rock Creek Park.

The result is the return of String Fling on a bigger stage with yet another outstanding lineup of musicians and songwriters.

Other performers include Jim Reynolds and Gemstone of Chapel Hill, Sweet Diezel of Canada, Highland Rim, Ronnie Frugé, Markham Brown, Josh Glover, Greg Jones, Scott Phagley, Roam County Radio and Rank Strangers.

Food and baked goods will be available for sale by the Lewisburg Animal Shelter Association to benefit the Lewisburg Animal Shelter. Visitors are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and dancing shoes for a day of good music and family fun.

String Fling IV is sponsored by the City of Lewisburg, Marshall County Tourism, Gary Francis, Tennessee Acoustic Music and the Nature Conservancy.