Photos by Tayhlor Stephenson / Lifestyles Editor
Just like fine wine, the Uncle Dave Macon Days Old-Time Music Festival only gets sweeter with time.
With the help of a record-breaking fanbase, Uncle Dave Macon Days celebrated its 40th anniversary at Murfreesboro’s Cannonsburgh Village July 7 and 8. The event hosted various competitions throughout its two days, such as the Bluegrass Banjo and Old Time Band contests, which allowed artists of all types the chance to earn a title.
As usual, Uncle Dave Macon Days showcased some new old-time music artists, but the hometown festival also reintroduced Middle Tennessee to its favorite banjo-pickin’ musicians, including the Hogslop String Band, a Nashville-based group comprised of four high-energy performers.
“We went from playing the band competitions to getting asked to come and play,” said Pickle of the Hogslop String Band.
In their seven years playing the Uncle Dave Macon Days festival, Hogslop proved great determination to reach the opening night performing status.
“We started in the band competition, and the first year we came, we got first place,” Pickle said. “The next year we competed, we got first place again, and by the third year I think they changed the rules because of us that you couldn’t compete three years in a row, so we changed the name of our band, and we won that year.”
The band rightfully helped kick off the festival Friday night with a spunky performance.
What is an old-time music festival without the cherished buck dancer, though?
Uncle Dave Macon Days once again welcomed veteran buck dancer Thomas Maupin to its event. In appreciation of his talent and willpower to keep buck dancing an ongoing pastime, he took it upon himself to teach his audience some of his steps.
“You’re not just going through a bunch of steps,” Maupin said. “What you’re trying to do is make music with music.”
His advice to his eager-to-learn students: “float like a butterfly and sting like a bee.” Of course, his statement drew a chuckle from the crowd.
The second Maupin opened the floor to his audience, hopeful dancers flooded the gazebo at which he stood in.
“The music tells me what to do,” Maupin said as he taught bystanders how to buck dance. “I’ll show you what I do, but you might do it different.”
The festival was completed with none other than food vendors, shopping vendors and childrens’ entertainment. Whether your tastebuds desired a refreshing glass of homemade lemonade or a fried strawberry shortcake, the vendors were there to serve you with a smile on their faces. And for the children of Uncle Dave Macon Days, face painting, trampolines and inflatables were present.
To wrap up the two-day festival, headliners took the Macon Manor Stage to give guests one last knee-slapping set of performances.
First up, the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band.
“We’ve had a great time down here,” said Mike Armistead of the Tennessee Mafia Jug Band. “We love coming here.”
Throughout their 90-minute set, the band, led by banjo player Leroy Troy, satisfied the audience with tracks like Johnny Cash’s “Wabash Cannonball” and the Carter Family’s “Meeting in the Air.”
“Thank you, folks,” the band yelled as they left the audience, which immediately demanded an encore through a standing ovation.
The last song they would sing to the Uncle Dave Macon Days 2017 audience was none other than Waylon Jennings’ “Lonesome, On’ry and Mean.”
Next up, Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out. Before performing, Moore was first met with the honor of accepting the 2017 Uncle Dave Macon Days Heritage Award from the festival’s president Gloria Christy. Each year the award is given to someone who devotes their time to preserving bluegrass and old-time music, and Moore is the latest addition to the list of winners.
“We’ve been waiting all day to get on the stage and do some pickin’,” Moore said just before the band’s opening track.
Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out sang everything from the crowd-pleasing “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver to the band’s most requested song “Erase the Miles” in their hour-and-a-half set.
Last to take the 2017 Uncle Dave Macon Days stage was headliner Lonesome River Band. Led by multi award-winning banjo performer Sammy Shelor, this band has existed for 35 years, and they show no signs of letting up any time soon.
“Thank you for sticking around for the late show,” said Brandon Rickman of Lonesome River. “We appreciate it a lot.”
The Lonesome River Band ended the 2017 Uncle Dave Macon Days festival on a high with tunes like Doc Watson’s “Sitting on Top of the World” and previews of their recently released album, such as “As The Crow Flies.”
Uncle Dave Macon Days 2018 will take place July 13 and 14.
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