Friday, September 18, 2009

Hylo Brown Bluegrass Festival is this Saturday in Mechanicsburg

The annual Hylo Brown Bluegrass Festival is slated for Saturday, Sept. 19 at Goshen Memorial Park in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Honoring the legacy of Frank "Hylo" Brown and his impact on the bluegrass music industry, the event will showcase bands from several states including Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Brown earned his nickname because of a wide vocal range that became his trademark. Born in 1922 in River, Ky., Brown started performing in radio in Ashland, Ky., when he was just 17. After moving with his family to Springfield, Ohio, in 1949, Brown began an association with country singer Bradley Kincaid, which included working at Kincaid's radio station and playing in his band. Brown's songwriting credits include "Lost to a Stranger" (Capitol Records), his signature song that made it to the pop radio charts in 1954, and "Grand Ole Opry," which Jimmy Martin made a hit.

Brown went to work as a featured artist for Flatt & Scruggs in 1958, later forming a second band called The Timberliners. With Brown as front man, the band included Red Rector, Jim Smoak, Clarence "Tater" Tate and Joe Phillips. The band toured extensively throughout the South.

After the advent of video and television syndication, The Timberliners disbanded and Brown re-joined Flatt & Scruggs' Foggy Mountain Boys. He signed with Starday in 1971 and performed as a solo artist through the 1970s, continuing to record. He retired to Mechanicsburg and died Jan. 17, 2003.

Brown will be honored posthumously with a Distinguished Achievement Award from the International Bluegrass Music Association during a special awards luncheon on Oct. 1. It will be held at the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tenn. during the IBMA Business Conference. Others to receive awards include Pati Crooker, Jody Rainwater, Dick Spottswood and Joe Wilson.

Brown's accomplishments and legacy are survived through his family and the annual festival in Mechanicsburg.

Featured at this year's festival is the only surviving member of the original Timberliners: Jim Smoak. Smoak will appear for the first time at the festival, along with his band, the Louisiana Honeydrippers. The evening lineup will include Mike Daniels, who was the last banjo player to tour with Brown. As a friend and colleague, Daniels actively promotes the music and legacy of Brown. Also featured at the festival are bluegrass legend Vince Combs with his band, Shadetree Bluegrass, as well as teenage bluegrass sensation McCoy Grass.

"We're really excited about this year's lineup, especially since we are able to have some of those who shared in Hylo Brown's career," said Matthew Smith, festival manager. "We work hard all year long to see that this event will be successful."

Smith explained that booking these individuals for the festival had to occur over nine months ago to ensure that they would be available.

"Also, we have the support of Brown's family, so we want to make sure that the day properly honors his legacy," added Smith.

On display throughout the day will be Hylo Brown memorabilia, including his performance suit, guitar, original albums and awards. Brown's recordings will be available for purchase, as well as recordings of the bands throughout the day.

The event will include food and retail vendors throughout the day, allowing an opportunity for lunch, gifts or a snack. Those attending are invited to bring a lawn chair or blanket to fully enjoy the surroundings of the park's natural amphitheater. Disabled parking and restroom facilities are available at the event. Although the event is free to the public, donations are requested to offset the expense of the bands' fees.

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