There will be a whole lot of picking and grinning going on in Myrtle Beach for Thanksgiving weekend, and we're not just talking about picking up a fork and digging into some pumpkin pie. The South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival returns to the Grand Strand for the 46th consecutive year, bringing some of the nation's most popular bluegrass, gospel and American roots music acts to the Myrtle Beach Convention Center on Nov. 26-28.
Held for three days from noon Thursday through 10 p.m. Saturday, the South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival is an annual family tradition for hundreds of music fans who have been spending their Turkey Day weekends on the Grand Strand for generations. In fact, the entire festival is like one big happy family, united in their love for Appalachian music, fellowship, and the food that comes with the American holiday.
For those unfamiliar with bluegrass music, the genre represents one of the country's earliest forms of music introduced to America by Irish and Scottish settlers in the Appalachian Mountains of the Carolinas, Tennessee, Kentucky and the Virginias. Featuring fiddles, banjos, steel guitar, stand-up bass, and a wide range of acoustic instruments (except drums), bluegrass has seen a boost in popularity in recent years.
The festivities get underway at noon Thursday if you want to enjoy an early Thanksgiving dinner before the show. But all three days are double billed (as in all artists play two different sets early and late), so you can leave for a turkey feast later in the day and not miss an act. Bay View Resort is only a few blocks away from the Myrtle Beach Convention Center so you can easily leave and return throughout the festival.
Thursday's headliner is 2006 and 2007 International Bluegrass Music Association Entertainer of the Year The Grascals, a Nashville-based bluegrass band that had crossover success with lead singer and solo artist Dierks Bentley. Also appearing are 2014 Newcomer of the Year nominees Flatt Lonesome, Feller & Hilland, The Big Country Bluegrass Band, Al Batten & The Bluegrass Reunion and Canadian-based band The Spinney Brothers,
Friday night's featured act sent shockwaves through the bluegrass world when legends J.D. Crowe, Paul Williams and Doyle Lawson formed a trio known as Old Friends. With more than 100 years of combined professional bluegrass musicianship between them, this is one set you don't want to miss. Sharing the stage are The Lonesome River Band, Marty Raybon & Full Circle, Darin & Brooke Aldridge, Ted Jones & The Tar Heel Boys and Gold Wing Express, a Native American bluegrass band that puts on an amazing music and comedy show.
If you can only make it to the South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival for one night, make it Saturday. Some of the top names on the bluegrass circuit close the show, led by co-headliner and seven-time Performer of the Year Doyle Lawson & Quick Silver and two-time Entertainer of the Year Dailey & Vincent. Undercard acts include Jimmy Fortune performing with Dailey & Vincent, The Mallsaps Brothers, The Little Roy & Lizzy Show and Lorraine Jordan & The Carolina Road Band. Other surprise guests have been known to pop in for an impromptu jam session on stage.
Tickets to the South Carolina State Bluegrass Festival are $40 for general admission and $45 for reserved seating ($20-$25 for children ages 7-13) each day, or you can purchase a three-day pass to all the shows for $90 general admission or $95 reserved seating ($45-$50 for children ages 7-13). Children 6 and under are admitted free. Tickets may be purchased the day of the festival at the MBCC box office, or online at www.adamsbluegrass.com.