Annual fundraiser planned Saturday in Pickens

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

PICKENS — A concert is planned this weekend to celebrate the music of the mountains — while supporting a program that teaches that music to young people.

This year’s Winter Bluegrass Jubilee is set for Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Pickens High School auditorium. Ryan Ferrell is once again serving as director of the Winter Jubilee.

“We’re excited about the Jubilee this year,” said Betty McDaniel, creator of the Young Appalachian Musicians program and board member of the nonprofit Preserving Our Southern Appalachian Music.

POSAM and the YAMs program have been doing the Winter Jubilee for a number of years. Just how many years is open to interpretation.

Last year’s Jubilee had to be called off due to a big winter storm.

“We did not get to do that one,” McDaniel said. “But what we did do was we asked all the bands that were onboard last year if they could come back this year — and all but one were able to do that.”

Tickets are $12 at the door. They can also be purchased online at

The Jubilee is the programs’ biggest fundraiser each year.

“That was kind of hard last year when we weren’t able to have it,” McDaniel said. “Thankfully, we have some really good sponsors.”

Doors open at 10 a.m., and the concert will kick off with a pre-show segment at 10:30 a.m. A video showcasing some of the achievements of the young musicians will be shown.

Opening remarks will begin at 10:50 a.m., and Brooke Smith will sing the National Anthem.

At 11 a.m., the Sweet Potato Pie Kids will take the stage. They’ll be followed by the current Young Appalachian Musicians at noon.

“The YAMs are invited to play onstage, all the YAMs,” McDaniel said.

Left Lane will perform at 1 p.m.

“Left Lane is all former Sweet Potato Pie Kids, who are in high school now,” McDaniel said.

The West End String Band will perform at 2 p.m., followed by Carolina Blue, a gospel and bluegrass group, at 3 p.m.

“One of our YAMs instructors, James McDowell, plays the banjo with Carolina Blue,” McDaniel said.


the Hinson Girls

At 4 p.m., the Hinson Girls will take the stage.

At 5 p.m., the Eastern Tennessee State University Pride band will perform.

“They have a bluegrass band program there,” McDaniel said of ETSU. “Several of our YAM kids have gone there and minored in bluegrass. They have a fabulous band there that’s coming down for this event.”

Band members will talk to YAMs students about “college possibilities, things you can do in college if you’re into bluegrass as a young person,” McDaniel said.

“That’s really good for us,” she said.

There will be some announcements at 5:50 p.m., then the Lonesome River Band will close out the concert at 6 p.m.

Lonesome River Band was slated to perform at last year’s show, but the weather had other ideas.

The band hails from Southeast Virginia and came down early to beat a storm in their neck of the woods last year — only to run into snow down here.

“They traveled for five hours on their bus,” McDaniel said. “At the time, it was looking OK.”


Courtesy photos

Lonesome River Band, above, will headline Saturday’s Winter Bluegrass Jubilee at Pickens High School.

When the band arrived in Pickens, the snow soon came in. The bus was parked in the Pizza Inn parking lot and soon got stuck.

“They were stuck in that parking lot for three days,” McDaniel said.

Fans made sure the band was fed.

“They agreed to come back this year,” McDaniel said. “They’re a great group of guys.”

In addition to the main stage performers, the Winter Jubilee will feature a number of workshops throughout the day.

“Not only do we have some great performers coming, we have some real interesting workshops this year,” McDaniel said.

Workshops last about 50 minutes to an hour and are often led by members of the bands performing at the concert.

This year’s workshops include creating leather accessories for your instrument, fiddle, mandolin and guitar workshops, preparing for your first recording, a songwriting workshop and a beginner’s guide to purchasing a guitar or mandolin.

“We’re branching out,” McDaniel said.

She said The Bucket Bass, Spoons and Other Fun Instruments is always a fun workshop. It’ll be led by Terry York and Greg Barfield.


Carolina Blue

“Terry actually teaches that one in the summer at our YAM Camp,” McDaniel said.

For workshop times and locations, visit

Concessions and vendors will also be on hand during the concert.

Bring your instrument for workshops and jam sessions. Free instrument check in will be available.

“It’s a fun day,” McDaniel said.

POSAM has recently received a number of grants, including three South Carolina Arts Commission Grants and a $10,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

One Arts Commission grant will allow instructor Steve McGaha to do a project on South Carolina Folk Songs, McDaniel said.

“We wouldn’t be doing it if it weren’t for grants,” she said.

For more information on the Jubilee, visit To learn more about POSAM and the Young Appalachian Musicians program, visit