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Bluegrass championship to bring top act to Jasper



Above, the Lonesome River Band, which will be headlining the Georgia State Bluegrass Championship in October.

     In the world of bluegrass, few groups are better known or more widely respected than The Lonesome River Band.

     This year, the award-winning ensemble will headline the 1st annual Georgia State Bluegrass Championship, the newest and most exiting addition to the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce’s Georgia Marble Festival, held every October at Lee Newton Park.


    BLuegrassPosters During its successful 30-year career, the Lonesome River Band has garnered numerous awards and recognitions. The International Bluegrass Music Association honored the group for Album of the Year and bandleader Sammy Shelor has been recognized four times as Banjo Performer of the Year. Shelor also won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass, which he was presented with in 2011 on “The David Letterman Show."

     The band’s 2010 album Still Learning reached #8 on the US Bluegrass Charts, with its 2012 album Chronology, Volume 1 peaking at # 10.

     “To have an act such as Lonesome River Band, that has received so many national awards and accolades performs brings legitimacy to our festival,” said Ernie McArthur, one of many event organizers. “It helps move the Marble Festival to the forefront as one of the state’s premier festivals and gives Pickens County and Jasper something to really be proud of.”

     And this year, to kick off the new bluegrass championship with a bang, Georgia Marble Festival organizers are granting admission to the LRB performance for the cost of entry into the festival, just $5 a head for adults and $3 for children 12 and under. Children under 5 are free. Parking is also free and family weekend passes are available.

     While a treat in itself, the Lonesome River Band is just the icing on the cake for the 1st annual Georgia State Bluegrass Championship, which will bring performers to compete in five categories, including fiddle, mandolin, flat-picking guitar, bluegrass banjo, and bluegrass band. Prizes include $1,000 to best band and $250 to winners in each individual contest.

     While Georgia Marble Festival events will be going on throughout the first weekend in October, the Georgia State Bluegrass Championship will be held that Saturday, Oct. 6, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the Lonesome River Band headlining at 8 p.m. that evening.

     Festival-goers can enjoy the day-long competition as well as numerous other events and activities going on that weekend, including arts, crafts and food vendors, a fine arts competition, marble quarry tours, a business expo, a children’s area, parade, bike ride, beauty pageant and much more.

     For musicians interested in competing, entry application and rules for the Georgia State Bluegrass Championship can be found at .

     For more information about the 32nd annual Georgia Marble Festival, hosted by the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce, visit


     The Georgia Marble Festival will be Saturday, October 6 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, October 7 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.



See earlier story: Bluegrass competition added to Ga. Marble Festival