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Bluegrass festival adds new twist to July 4
0702Brewgrass-Packway Handle
Local favorites Packway Handle Band will help host the first Red, White and Brewgrass Festival at the Melting Point in Athens. The band played the main stage at AthFest last year and at the Morton Theatre at this year’s festival.

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Red, White & Brewgrass Festival
Featuring: Mountain Heart, Packway Handle Band, The Corduroy Road, The Dappled Grays, Bob Hay & The Jolly Beggars, Curley Maple, Johnny Roquemore & The Apostles of Bluegrass, Jumpin’ Jesus Christers, Mayhem String Band, North Georgia Bluegrass Band, Peachtree Station, Solstice Sisters, String Theory, Hawk Proof Rooster
When: Noon to midnight July 4
Where: The Melting Point at the Foundry Park Inn, 295 E. Dougherty St., Athens
How much: $15 in advance, $20 on July 4, $10 for UGA students with an ID
More info: 706-425-9700

Energy, intensity and charisma — those are the words that come to mind when bluegrass shows up in Athens.

On Independence Day, 14 bands will perform in the first ever Red, White & Brewgrass Festival at the Melting Point, a concert space at the Foundry Park Inn in Athens.

“We have a long-standing bluegrass night on Tuesdays, so this seemed like a good mix of blues and the pub,” said Troy Aubrey, booking agent for Nomad Arists who helped to create the festival. “There are two stages that will run all day with a jam at the end of the night.”

Aubrey contacted the bands that blend blues, jazz, folk and even rock ’n’ roll with bluegrass.

“Our band is a bit different because we use drums and electric guitar at times,” said Dylan Solise, guitarist for The Corduroy Road. “We try to push our sound to more of a rock ’n’ roll edge and try to bring out the intensity of playing for a crowd. The interaction and connection brings out a lot of emotion that’s unrestrained, and we focus on that.”

Members of Mountain Heart, a Nashville-based band that opened for Lynyrd Skynyrd for a few shows last summer, said they are excited to see how the daylong event will attract locals.

“We’ve played at the Melting Point before, which is a cool establishment and environment that makes performances really intimate,” said Jim Van Cleve, who plays the fiddle. “There’s an energy and charisma with this group of guys, and we seem to connect, so I hope it’s a smashing success.”

Tom Baker, who plays the banjo for The Packway Handle Band, a local favorite that is helping to host the event, said he hopes the festival becomes an annual staple in Athens.

“There’s not a bluegrass festival like this in the area, surprisingly, despite the wealth of great musicians. We hope it becomes a multiday festival,” Baker said. “We all want to put on the kind of show that we as music fans would want to watch — a really fun, interactive show.”