Your best local concert festival buddy is returning for a second year. Yes indeed, BOB is back.
Short for Best of Bluegrass, the weeklong series of predominantly free concerts debuted in 2013 as a celebratory prelude to the 40th annual Festival of the Bluegrass. BOB proved an immediate hit in bringing patrons downtown to a variety of venues before passing the ball to the Festival of the Bluegrass over the weekend.
This year, BOB is bigger in scope with a broader performance schedule that will include free shows by such established national bluegrass acts as Steep Canyon Rangers, Town Mountain and the Lonesome River Band.
At a press conference yesterday at Natasha’s that announced in the initial BOB lineup, Mayor Jim Gray said the event helps preserve and fortify one of Lexington’s most enduring cultural traditions.
“We use the words potential and possibility when we think about our rich legacy and history,” Gray said. “We’re one year short of 240 years of being a city and this music is so much a part of it. Continuing and embracing that legacy and strengthening that fabric is a very good deal.”
While several of the performers at BOB are still to be announced, one the biggest confirmed concerts will kick off the festival on June 9 – a double-bill featuring the traditionally inclined North Carolina troupe Town Mountain and the veteran Lonesome River Band, still with multi-award winning banjoist Sammy Shelor, at Natasha’s. A bluegrass themed program for the WoodSongs Old-Time Radio Hour will precede the show at the Lyric Theatre.
Another heavyweight act, the Grammy-winning Steep Canyon Ranges (which just released a concert recording with Steve Martin and Edie Brickell) brings BOB to Pauley’s Toasted Barrel on June 11 following a Red Barn Radio program at ArtsPlace with the Misty Mountain String Band. Three-time reigning International Bluegrass Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year, takes BOB to the heart of downtown with a Thursday Night Live performance on June 12.
All of the shows, save for the WoodSongs and Red Barn Radio tapings, will be free. Still to be announced will be BOB shows on June 10 at Southland Jamboree, Willie’s Locally Known and Al’s Bar.
This year’s roster at the ticketed Festival of the Bluegrass at the Kentucky Horse Park, which runs from June 12-15, includes The Grascals, Seldom Scene, Mountain Heart and the current IBMA Vocal Group and Entertainer of the Year Gibson Brothers.
A joint venture between the Lexington Area Music Alliance and numerous local sponsors and organizers, BOB is welcoming the involvement of LexTran this year, which will help transport patrons from the Horse Park (especially campers arriving earlier in the week) to downtown.
“What we are about to present is some of the best bluegrass music in America, if not the world, for free,” said LAMA president Tom Martin.