We are blessed in Lawrence County with a wealth of musical talent.
Events year-round feature homegrown vocal and instrumental abilities. No weekend goes by without a singing at a local church, a bluegrass-country-gospel performance hosted by the Tennessee Valley Jamboree, and/or a concert at the historic Crockett Theatre.
Lawrence County musicians are featured performers at The Summertown Bluegrass Reunion, a festival dedicated to that genre held twice a year. The Kellys (see more about them below) open each evening performance of the James D. Vaughan quartet festival, which brings the top gospel groups in the country here each July.
Every local church has members who share their gifts only with their lucky congregations. Most people know at least one shade tree musician who’s willing to gather for an informal jam session anytime, anywhere. Lawrence County is also home to musicians who have found success far outside our borders.
One recent concert featured local musicians of every type. Band Together II is an annual concert for our three county high school bands, held at the acoustically-perfect Crockett Theatre.
Young musicians who will benefit from the event crowded onstage to kick off the show. They then made way for others who got their start with the Loretto, Summertown, or Lawrence County High School Bands.
Taylor Cheatwood, for instance, is an LCHS alumnus whose gift for the saxophone (www.IPlaySaxophone.com) emerged during his high school years. He, along with talented local siblings Will Pettus (keyboard) and Lorie Pettus Jones (flute) launched a tribute to Billy Joel that also featured 17-year-old vocalist Jonathan Dewar.
Joining them onstage was The Jeff Quillen Band, named for its excellent rock guitarist/lead singer. The group included bass guitarist Johnny Marston, who has been making music with area bands for decades. John Marston II is a regular member of the band on drums and vocals; versatile Steve Walker is a vocalist who plays guitar, keyboard, and harmonica. http://www.jeffquillenband.com/music.html
Stepping out of their usual roles, high school band directors Darrell Boston (Loretto), George Thompson (Summertown) and Aaron Evins (Lawrence County High) helped form a brass section that thrilled their cheering students.
The Kellys rounded out the evening with a touch of Southern Gospel, a nod to Lawrence County’s historical connection to that genre. The group was formed in 1959 by two brothers and their wives, and is led now by Jon Kelly, who joined in at age 5. Paul Walters sings tenor for The Kellys but tackled lower notes for his spine-tingling rendition of Elvis’s American Trilogy. http://www.thekellysgospel.com/
Your next best opportunity to see the most local talent on display will be Monday, December 7, when the Lawrence County Oratorio Society opens the holiday season with Christmas Pops. The 7:30 p.m. show is free, but tickets are only available on a first-come, first-serve basis this Saturday, November 21 at the Crockett Theatre box office. The window opens at 10 a.m. to offer a maximum of four tickets to each person as long as they last.
Photos by Howard (HoJo) Johnston, the Lawrence County Advocate