This will mark the seventh year for the festival, a free event featuring both contemporary and traditional bluegrass superstars. The two-day festival is hosted by Fletcher Bright Company.
This year’s lineup features some old favorites (Travelin’ McCourys, Chatham County Line) and some first-timers to the festival (Balsam Range and Sam Bush).
Here is an artist-to-artist breakdown of the lineup:
Friday, Oct. 4
Dismembered Tennesseans, 6 p.m.
These local favorites feature the fiddling of Fletcher Bright himself and the dulcet tones of bassist and vocalist Laura Walker. The band was formed in 1945 at McCallie School.
Balsam Range, 8:10 p.m.
Western North Carolina is known for good music and the sweet smell of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Balsam Range, a group of five outstanding musicians and singers from Haywood, N.C., was formed in 2007 and has since won several awards, including Best Song in 2012 from the International Bluegrass Music Association. Their latest album, “Papertown,” spent five months atop the Bluegrass Unlimited Album Chart.
The Greenbriars, 6:50 p.m.
The Greenbriars are a super-group of sorts and all former or current members of the John Cowan Band. This iteration features the talents of Jeff Autry, Shad Cobb, Todd Phillips and Scott Vestal. Having this kind of talent together lends to endless possibilities of virtuosic bluegrass and improvisation. The set also includes a “special guest,” which may or may not be John Cowan himself. Don’t miss this.
Sam Bush, 9:30 p.m.
The night just keeps getting better with newgrass legend Sam Bush, a man who has played Chattanooga many times wearing his Chattanooga Lookouts baseball jersey. The potential for a Cowan/Bush newgrass revival collaboration is prime. Bush is a mandolin virtuoso who released his latest album, “Circles Around Me,” in 2009. The album earned Bush a Grammy Award.
Saturday, Oct. 5
Bluetastic Fangrass, noon
Led by local Dobro king Lou Wamp, Bluetastic Fangrass is a mix of bluegrass, swing and swampy blues. The band includes Chris “Lightning” Hopkins on guitar, Owen Saunders on fiddle and Brad Frazier on vocals. Lou’s wife, Lynn Wamp, brings the low notes with her upright bass. Lou is a 30-year veteran of the bluegrass stage.
The Lone Mountain Band, 1 p.m.
Considered one of if not the best bluegrass band in Chattanooga, The Lone Mountain Band is determined to keep the traditional sound of the mountains alive. The band has been together since the late’ 90s and consists of flattop specialist Roy Curry, Jim Plankey on the clawhammer banjo, Diana Phillips on upright bass and Bobby Burn on mandolin.
Dismembered Tennesseans, 2 p.m.
(See description above.)
Berklee College of Music Fiddlers, 3 p.m.
Berklee College has produced some of the finest contemporary musicians on the planet. Their college of music fiddlers is no different.
Chatham County Line, 4 p.m.
A personal favorite of Fletcher Bright’s granddaughter, Chatham County Line has become a recurring performer at the festival. The band represents a new movement in bluegrass, a combination of brilliant songwriting, catchy tunes and an Americana element not often found in traditional bluegrass. Their music-and tailored brown suits-is always a highlight of the festival.
Keller & The Keels, 5:30 p.m.
The “wildcard” of the entire festival, it’s best to have no expectations going into a set featuring Keller Williams and Larry and Jenny Keel. This weird trio released an album called “Thief,” which features unconventional bluegrass covers from Kris Kristofferson to Amy Winehouse. It should be noted, too, that Williams has also appeared on a recent album with The Travelin’ McCourys, a band performing later in the evening. Expect some crossover, folks. The stars are aligned.
Nashville Bluegrass Band, 7 p.m.
With a name like “Nashville Bluegrass Band,” they better be good, right? They absolutely are. The band has become a sort of bridge between traditional and newgrass while, at the same time, solidifying a unique sound of their own. The NBB has been around since 1984 and has toured with John Prine, Don Williams, Marty Stuart, Ricky Skaggs and almost everywhere in between as their own band. Tradition meets the future when NBB steps onto the stage.
The Travelin’ McCourys, 8:30 p.m.
The headliners for the Three Sisters Bluegrass Festival are no strangers to the Riverfront stage. The sons of bluegrass legend Del McCoury, brothers Ronnie and Rob are known for their high-energy performances. The band also includes fiddler Jason Carter and bassist Alan Bartram. Recently, the band performed with The Allman Brothers Band and recorded an album called “Pick” with Keller Williams. Again, expect crosspollination on stage.
Updated @ 4:21 p.m. on 9/12/13 to reflect scheduling changes: The Greenbriers and Balsam Range have traded time slots on Oct. 4, and the lead fiddler originally slated to come with the Berklee College of Music Fiddlers will no longer be attending.