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John Jarrard Foundation’s 7th annual Lake Show to kick off summer season
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Mellow Steel performs during the 4th annual John Jarrard Foundation Lake Show at Lake Lanier Olympic Park in Gainesville, on Saturday, June 9, 2018. - photo by David Barnes
7th Annual John Jarrard Foundation Lake Show

When: 6-10 p.m. June 4

Where: Lake Lanier Olympic Park, 3105 Clarks Bridge Road, Gainesville

How much: $25

Tickets and info: johnjarrardfoundation.com/event/7th-annual-lake-show

It isn’t officially summer in Gainesville-Hall County without the John Jarrard Foundation’s annual Lake Show heralding the season with an evening of live music.

The seventh of its kind, this year’s event is slated for June 4 at Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

Taking the stage are New Orleans-bred songwriter and A-list Greg Barnhill, country music singer-songwriter Joanna Cotten and Georgia’s own Otis Redding III, who’s slated to perform some of his father’s hits like “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” and “Knock on Wood.”

 “Musically, we have one of the best shows we’ve ever had,” the foundation’s executive director Jody Jackson said. “It’s all real-deal stuff, not a cover band.”

Barnhill is perhaps best known for his hits “Walkaway Joe,” recorded by Trisha Yearwood and Don Henley, and “House of Love,” recorded by Amy Grant and Vince Gill. Trained at Julliard, Cotten is a longtime member of Eric Church’s band and, as a solo artist, presents a unique fusion of country, blues and funk. 

They’re both personal acquaintances of Jackson’s, who said he’s known the two for about 15 years and counting.

As for Redding, who was born in Macon, Ga., Jackson said the two became acquainted through a couple of mutual connections: the Georgia Music Foundation and the Otis Redding Foundation. 

“We had him play a few years ago for Leadership Georgia and the crowd absolutely loved it,” Jackson said, adding he’s excited to be showcasing the American soul and blues icon’s talent once again. 

“We like to keep people dancing and loving the music. We’re kind of getting back to our roots of being a songwriter foundation, and all three of these (artists) are songwriters.”

Now in its 21st year, the John Jarrard Foundation has a “long history” of bringing renowned talent to the ears of local music enthusiasts, Jackson said, drawing from connections he and John Jarrard Foundation Founder Bruce Burch forged while living in Nashville.

“(We) got to know a lot of these artists and a lot of their agents and managers and a lot of band members, so we’ve always kind of gone back to the well in Nashville and brought them down,” Jackson said.

With the help of Jim Mathis, former head of the North Georgia Community Foundation, Jackson and Burch inaugurated the Lake Show to restore lifeblood to Lake Lanier Olympic Park.

“They, since the Olympics, had done nothing with the park out there — I mean, the grass had grown up,” Jackson said. “We were like, ‘This is a beautiful place for a concert, it’s a built-in amphitheater overlooking the lake with parking and bathrooms and everything you need to put on a show.’ We’ve always done a fall show, so we thought a spring show as kind of a kickoff to summer on the lake would be a great thing to do. It’s grown every year and this will probably be our biggest year yet.”

Jackson said this year’s Lake Show will be “extra special,” doubling as a celebration of Burch’s life and legacy. Burch died March 12 from complications with leukemia.

While the foundation’s fall concert, slated for Sept. 10, is more of a quiet, sit-down affair, the lakeside show is much more lively and the perfect place for folks to break out their dancing shoes, Jackson said.

“It’s more of a talk and dance and drink and eat festival type (of show),” he said. “It’s just a real feel-good kind of vibe. Especially with what we’ve been through in the last couple years where live music was almost down to nothing for a while because of the pandemic, I think it’s just something that people like to get out and do and enjoy. I can assure you nothing more fun is going on the night of June 4 within hundreds of miles of here.”

Gates open at 5 p.m., and the concert commences at 6 p.m.

General admission is $25 and includes the concert itself, food and beverages, a raffle entry and a fireworks show to close out the night. Guests can bring their own blanket or chair or grab a seat in the venue’s amphitheater.

Tickets can be purchased at the event or online at johnjarrardfoundation.com

Tables are available for those interested in becoming a sponsor, ranging from $600-$2,500. These options and their amenities can be viewed at johnjarrardfoundation.com/event/7th-annual-lake-show.