The annual Liberty Square Celebration begins at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 9, in downtown Sparta, and will feature four well-known bluegrass bands as a tribute to White County’s ‘hometown’ legend, Lester Flatt.
‘Joe Mullins and The Radio Ramblers’ is the featured band for the celebration.
Mullins has been a banjo player more than 25 years. He toured and recorded as a founding member of the Traditional Grass until 1995. He also recorded and performed with the band Longview, earning Song of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year awards from IBMA, in the late 1990’s. In 2006, he won ‘Instrumental Recording of the Year’ from IBMA. He owns a network of radio stations in Ohio, where he does an on-air bluegrass show. Mullins has also received numerous other awards in the bluegrass music industry.
Adam McIntosh performs vocals and plays guitar. He has been a member of Radio Ramblers since 2006
Tim Kidd plays bass. His roots are in Southern Gospel, but found a home with bluegrass music when he joined the Radio Ramblers.
Evan McGregor performs vocals and plays the fiddle. He has been with the Radio Ramblers since 2006. McGregor has spent his life on the road with several international bluegrass acts.
Mike Terry also helps out with vocals and plays the mandolin. He has been performing with bluegrass bands more than 12 years.
‘The Expedition Show’ is comprised of native White Countain Blake Williams, his wife Kimberly Williams, Wayne Southards and Alex Hibbitts.
As an accomplished musician on several instruments, Blake has been a professional bluegrass musician more than 34 years. He first toured with Bobby Smith and The Boys From Shiloh fresh out of high school and soon moved into the role of banjo player for Lester Flatt and the Nashville Grass until Lester’s death in 1979. He then went to work with Bill Monroe, for 10 years, making him Monroe’s longest tenured banjo player.
In 1991, Blake was given the opportunity to play bass with comedian, Hee Haw star and Grand Ole Opry member Mike Snider, where he stayed until 2001. During his career, Blake has toured 48 states and seven countries, played Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center, and the Lincoln Center.
He has also performed on projects by Patty Loveless and Vince Gill. Blake has recorded three solo projects and performed regularly on the Grand Ole Opry more than 23 years. He has also enjoyed songwriting success having his songs covered by Lester Flatt and The Nashville Grass, Rhonda Vincent, and Williams and Clark Expedition. He is a three-time nominee for ‘Entertainer Of The Year’ by Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America. In May 2009, Sparta unveiled new city limits signs declaring Sparta as ‘Bluegrass USA’ and the home of Blake Williams.
Kimberly Williams, a native of Texas, moved to Nashville in 1992. She had enjoyed her musical beginnings by performing with her family’s band, where she sang and played mandolin. Kimberly has performed demos as a vocalist for songwriters and publishers in Nashville. Kimberly has also worked as a producer for Gaylord Entertainment’s Opryland Productions and Grand Ole Opry Group. During her seven-year tenure with Gaylord, Kimberly produced shows and special events for Opryland theme park, including the popular “Sundays In The Park” event series that included a monthly bluegrass jam, gospel and songwriting events. She has enjoyed two guest appearances on the Grand Ole Opry. In 2005, she opened her own company, East Public Relations, with a focus on affordable tour support and publicity for bluegrass artists.
Wayne Southards is a native of Salem, Mo. He moved to Nashville, in 1990, with his wife and two sons. He would soon become a highly sought after guitarist and work for country artists such as John Conlee, The McCarters and Sweethearts Of The Rodeo. Southards is a seasoned professional in bluegrass, too. He performed with the Tennessee Gentlemen as their lead vocalist and guitarist and he is also an accomplished bass player. He is a Midwest Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America ‘Male Vocalist of the Year’ having won the award in 1987.
Alex Hibbitt, on mandolin, is the newest member of The Expedition. Hibbitts is an accredited musician on several instruments, a creative songwriter, and an outstanding harmony vocalist. He is from the small coal town of Grundy, Va., but now resides in Johnson City. Hibbitts is a recent graduate of East Tennessee State University, with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Accounting. He also obtained a minor in Bluegrass while enrolled in the Bluegrass/Old-Time and Country Music Program at ETSU.
Also on the list of entertainment is ‘Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out.’ IIIrd Tyme Out members include Moore on guitar, Steve Dilling, on banjo, Justen Haynes on fiddle, Wayne Benson on mandolin and Edgar Loudermilk on bass. The group has been selected IBMA’s ‘Vocal Group Of The Year’ for seven consecutive years.
Moore began playing music around the age of 11 after being inspired by bluegrass greats ‘The Osborne Brothers.’ By 1985, after several years of playing with numerous bluegrass bands, Moore went to work for the Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver. Six years later, he left to help form IIIrd Tyme Out. He has been awarded several ‘Male Vocalist’ awards to date.
Steve Dilling fell in love with the banjo at the age of 10, after hearing a recording of Earl Scruggs playing the Foggy Mountain Breakdown. He finally got his first banjo on his 12th birthday. His musical influences are varied and include well known artists Flatt and Scruggs, J. D. Crowe, Terry Baucom and Tony Rice.
Donnie Carver has always been surrounded by music on his father’s side of the family. His grandfather, father, uncles, sisters and cousins would get together on Saturday nights and pick at his grandparents’ home in Kentucky. Somewhere around 1992, he took a job playing mandolin with a band that also provided ‘sound’ for concerts and festivals. In 1996, he joined IIIrd Tyme Out.
Justen Haynes grew up in a house where his mother and father toured with a gospel bluegrass band. By age 4, he developed his love of music. Throughout high school, Haynes gained experience while participating in the Virginia State Orchestra. He graduated and attended Shenandoah Musical Conservatory. Haynes studied to be a performance major.
Wayne Benson is one of bluegrass music’s leading mandolin players and has established himself as a unique and gifted stylist. After more than a decade with the Atlanta-based band, Benson had solidified his niche among the most respected bluegrass mandolin players, while also enjoying numerous IBMA awards and the SPBGMA Mandolin Player of the Year award five consecutive years.
After living in Nashville for 16 years, Benson recently returned to the Carolinas. In addition to being a full-time member of Third Tyme Out, he regularly records and freelances with many top, industry musicians.
Edgar Loudermilk is a relative of the famous Louvin Brother. He began playing guitar and mandolin in his family’s band at the age of nine. In July 2007, Loudermilk became the bass player for IIIrd Tyme Out.
‘Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper’ will also be featured in the lineup for Liberty Square Celebration.
Michael Cleveland is considered one of the premier bluegrass fiddlers of his generation. In 1993, he was chosen to be part of the Bluegrass Youth All Stars at the IBMA’s award show. Later that year, he made his Grand Ole Opry debut as a guest of Alison Kraus. He has performed with Bill Monroe, Jim and Jesse, Ralph Stanley, Mac Wiseman, Doc Watson, Larry Sparks, Doyle Lawson and J.D. Crowe. He joined ‘Rhonda Vincent and The Rage’ in 2000. Cleveland has won numerous awards during his career.
Jesse Brock is featured on the mandolin and vocals. He was selected the 2009 IBMA Mandolin Performer of the Year. Brock also has countless awards a part of the bluegrass music industry.
Tom Adams is also a vocalist with the group and plays guitar. He gained national recognition more than 20 years ago as a banjo player with the legendary Jimmy Martin. He is a three-time winner of the IBMA’s Banjo Performer of the Year award.
Marshall Wilborn performs some of the vocals for the group and plays bass. He is the 2009 IBMA Bass Performer of the Year. He also played with Jimmy Martin and several other well-known bluegrass stars. Wilborn is also a songwriter, with his music recorded by Alison Kraus, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver and The Johnson Mountain Boys. .
Jessie Baker is the banjo player for Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper. Baker is still in his teens, but has already experienced bluegrass in a big way by playing with the stars he once only dreamed about.
Liberty Square Celebration begins at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 9, 2010. For more information call Lori Spivey, at Sparta City Hall, 836-3284.