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Deep into the Heartland Music Festival

by Mark Burger

Question: What comes after Labor Day?

Answer: Heartland.

The Heartland Music Festival, a full day’s celebration of the heritage of bluegrass and traditional American music, will be held Saturday in the amphitheater at Tanglewood Park (4061 Clemmons Road) in Clemmons.

Topping the bill are Bryan Sutton & the Bluegrass All-Stars. Acoustic guitarist and long-time Nashville session player Sutton has performed alongside the likes of the Dixie Chicks, Earl Scruggs, Ricky Skaggs, Bela Fleck (of Flecktones flame) and many others.

The all-star line-up also includes Big Ron Hunter & the Robbie Carr Group, Polecat Creek, Harris Station, Zephyr Lightning Bolts, Packway Handle Band and Gospel Mellowtones, with each group lending its own unique musical identity to this daylong bash.

The concert is being presented by Rock-92 (where I do my patented movie-reviewing shtick Friday mornings, for those who can pick it up), the Full Moon Oyster Bar in Clemmons and Foothills Brewing in Winston-Salem, as well as by Wooden Umbrella, an events management outfit that is headquartered in Winston-Salem.

There’s more on the menu than just music, however. There will also be a veritable smorgasbord of down-home Southern cookin’ (barbecue, ribs, oysters and absolutely everything to do with red meat), children’s activities, the Heritage Arts Expo, and – more than likely – a surprise or two. So bring your appetites and bring the kids, too.

The festival “is an opportunity for friends, families, music lovers and folks who enjoy a festive atmosphere to have a magnificent time,” said Chris Koenig, one of the talking heads under Wooden Umbrella, in a press release. (He’s one of the founders, along with Kevin Jay – himself a fellow of no ill repute.)

“We definitely want to turn this into something bigger in the future,” Koenig says. “It’s a great celebration, and we definitely feel good about the quality of musicianship that we’ll see on the stage. Bryan [Sutton] has been great to work with, and has been an integral part in pulling together this festival.

“We’ve worked with a lot of these bands before, and they are proven talents,” he continues. “There’s definitely a North Carolina flavor, but it really covers the whole gamut of bluegrass and American music.”

The festival kicks off at 1 p.m. and runs continuously until 9 p.m. Chris Koenig will be there the entire time. Go up to him and tell him what a good time you’re having. Make him smile.

Tickets are $15 (advance) and $22 (day of event). Children under 12 are admitted free with a paying adult. Tickets can be purchased at Full Moon Oyster Bar (1473 River Ridge Drive, Clemmons), Foothills Brewing (638 4th St., Winston-Salem), The Old 4th Street Filling Station (871 W. Fourth St., W-S) or Milner’s American Southern (630 S. Stratford Road, Winston-Salem), or they can be purchased on-line at heartlandmusicfestival.com.

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