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Heritage Music Festival set May 21st in New Albany

New Albany, MS– The annual Down from the Hills Heritage Museum and Mississippi Bluegrass Competition is set May 21, 2016, at the Union County Fairgrounds.   Competition will begin at 10 a.m. in this the 15th year for the festival that selects the top old-time music makers for the state.

The festival moves back to the fairgrounds this year, said Jill Smith, coordinator and Director of the Union County Heritage Museum..  “We are grateful that we have the great space at the Fairgrounds available to us this year.  The covered arena makes it possible to have the event rain or shine and the big trees make for great shade-tree jamming. “As people get ready for their part in the competition, visitors can hear some pretty fabulous shade-tree picking,” Smith said.

Shade-tree picking will be readily available

Shade-tree picking will be readily available

“It’s amazing how people who have scarcely met can play so beautifully together, as is seen at this festival.  Cost of admission is $5 per person, and 12 and under get free admission. Bleachers are available at the event and lawn chairs are welcome there.

If any crafts people would like to set up their wares, please plan to do so by 9 a.m.and bring your own tables.  No flea market or imported merchandise, please.

Typically, contestants from Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Arkansas and Louisiana  come to this event that pays cash awards to both youth and adults.

The New Albany event hosts the official MS Bluegrass Championship competition

The New Albany event hosts the official MS Bluegrass Championship competition

“We started this event with the thought that it will encourage the continuation of this type of music that is the heritage of the Appalachian area.  This is part of the mission. The old-time fiddlers, mandolin players, banjo, guitar and dobro make up the core of those individuals who were, many times, self-taught and shared their talents on the front porches prior to the era of a television in every home.”

National Dobro Champion Johnny Bellar, from Tennessee, will perform at this year’s festival. Bellar, also a judge, has a very unique style of playing from the old time Gospel to the ethereal "Hearts of Space “ style.

National Dobro Champion Johnny Bellar, from Tennessee, will perform at this year’s festival. Bellar, also a judge, has a very unique style of playing from the old time Gospel to the ethereal “Hearts of Space “ style.

Known affectionately as “old time music, it was  played at homes, in churches and at public events during a time when the culture was more rural.  The melodic roots of the music come from many cultures, such as the Scots Irish tradition and shaped, also  from the African American banjo tradition. As it evolved, old time music picked up material from other music styles such as blues, ragtime, and gospel.

The competition is open to all, Smith said.  Each competitor pays $5 per competition and there will be a bluegrass band competition as the final portion of the event.  The band winners will take home $1500, for fist and $500 and $250 for second and third.   Approximately $8,000 in all will be earned by the winners, young and old.  This event is supported by the Mississippi Arts Commission, the City of New Albany, and the Union County Historical Society and its Community Partners.

For more information call 662-538-0014 or email jill@ucheritagemuseum.com or go to www.mississippibluegrass.com for rules and entry information

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