Bluegrass festival coming to Burnt Church community


It’s time again for the annual Burnt Church Bluegrass Festival.

The music fest will be held on Saturday, Sept. 15, at Burnt Church Community Center, seven miles southeast of Savannah on the former Whites Elementary School complex.

Each year, well known regional groups gather to entertain fans with traditional, southern, heart-warming, toe-tapping tunes.

The heritage of this brand of music blends a variety of compostions, including the songs brought by migrating souls coming from the British Isles as they filled out the frontier lands and continued fanning out over the countryside, settling and growing their communities.

This year the festival will be in memory of James Alfred Neill.

Neill, along with other community members started a music festival at Neill’s Store years ago, and it grew into the event we still celebrate.

James Alfred, as he was known to everyone, was a man of the community. He was a fixture at the local store, a timberman and faithful supporter of the school. He could be found playing music with Martha Lynn Holt, principal of the school at the time, and her music students after school. And he was one of the adult helpers at the yearly school “Farm Day.”

In the past several years bluegrass music has experienced a revival, as the love for the clean, honest tunes attracts more young musicians to carry on the tradition.

James Alfred, with his big hat and upright bass, will be missed from the stage, but he would be pleased to know his fellow musicians would once again bring their clear, mellow tunes to the little valley.

The cold waters of Turkey Creek breed a bounty of talent. Burnt Church is the home to many fine performers, including Wayne and Bobby Jerrolds.

Starting at noon there will be an open mic for all who would like to entertain, followed by a schedule of bands. They include “Southern Sound,” “Sparks Family Bluegrass,” “Courthouse Pickers,” “Hatchie Bottom Boys,” “Rudy Moore & Bluegrass Pals,” “Lost Tyme Bluegrass,” “No Time Flatt,” “Wayne Jerrolds & Savannah Grass,” “Scottie Baugus and Boone Creek Bluegrass” and “Crosswind.”

Bring your lawn chairs and join everyone for good food, fun and music.