[cleeng_content id="655177052" description="Read it now!" price="0.49" t="article"]Kellie Pickler headlines bluegrass, barbecue fest
INWOOD — For the seventh year in a row, the mountain air of the Eastern Panhandle will be filled with the tangy aroma of barbecue mingling with the sounds of bluegrass and country music.
Pickin’ in the Panhandle will return Friday and run through Sunday at its new location, Shiley Acres.
Established in 2007, the festival’s success led then-Gov. Joe Manchin to proclaim it “The West Virginia State BBQ & Bluegrass Festival.”
Previously held at the pastoral Lazy-A Campground in Back Creek Valley, the festival quickly outgrew the facility due to its rapid emergence as one of the East Coast’s best music festivals.
“The Lazy-A was a great place that Pickin’ was born into. The Ashton family did a great job, but Pickin’ just outgrew their facility. We are picking up where they left off and taking it from there,” Greg Shiley, owner of Shiley Acres, said. “We have the infrastructure to handle these types of shows.”
The festival, named a “must do” event by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Richmond Times-Dispatch, will feature a mix of national and local musical talent, including Dancing with the Stars winner and country music sensation Kellie Pickler, West Virginia’s own Davisson Brothers, Nashville recording artists The Steel Drivers, former Shenandoah frontman Marty Rabon, Hampshire County’s Lonesome Highway and Martinsburg-based band Patent Pending.
Known for hosting the very best musical talent, the festival in the past has featured such names as Ricky Skaggs, The Charlie Daniels Band and Marty Stuart.
Shiley feels that this year’s lineup is no exception. “Kellie Pickler, we were very fortunate to land her,” Shiley said. “She is one of the up-and-coming country music stars in the world. She is not only a great artist and a fantastic musician and songwriter, she’s also a great dancer. She is probably the most-known dancer right now after winning Dancing with the Stars. We are very proud to be associated with her and proud that she is coming to Shiley Acres.
“This whole bill is full of great stars,” Shiley added. “You have Nashville-recording artists the Davisson Brothers. The Chris Lane Band has been touring with Kelli. Mountain Heart is one of the greatest bluegrass bands that ever came out of Nashville. Marty Rabon had 18 number one hits with Shenandoah. The Lonesome River Band is a national act. The Steel Drivers are fantastic. Balsam Range is up for seven nominations of I.B.M.A. (International Bluegrass Music Association) awards. Darryl Webb is one of the finest bluegrass musicians to be touring the East Coast.”
Shiley added that the local acts play a big part of the concert’s bill.
“Lonesome Highway is from Romney, W.Va. and the Back Creek Valley Boys are hometown boys from Winchester, Va.,” Shiley said. Stoney Creek and Cold Stream Road are local bands. Patent Pending has played around here forever. You will hear some things out of (local bands) Dry Mill Road and Circa Blue that you don’t normally hear at a bluegrass festival. Christian Lopez is from Martinsburg and was on American Idol. We have a major, major lineup of top-notch country-western music, top-notch national bluegrass music and top-notch local bluegrass music. I think that this is an awesome lineup.”
In addition to the star-studded bill of musicians, the festival features the Kansas City Barbecue Society’s West Virginia State BBQ Championship. The society sanctions over 400 barbecue contests across America every year. The teams will be competing for $9,400 in prize money. The winner of the professional teams will go on to Jack Daniel’s World Championship Invitational Barbecue, an event considered to be one of the most prestigious barbecue competitions in the world.
Laura Gassler, executive director for the Martinsburg-Berkeley County Convention and Visitors Bureau, said more than 40 amateur and professional barbecue teams have entered the competition.
“We are very excited about it,” Gassler said. “The barbecue should be great. We have a lot of good teams coming in. A lot of them are talking about decorating their cooking space. We have some good, fun rivalries going.”
Gassler said that the CVB feels good about the decision to partner with Shiley Acres. “At Lazy-A, we had to pay for all the infrastructure and the CVB had to rent the sound equipment, the stage, the lights, etc., plus handle all the music and that is what Shiley Acres is set up to do, to be a music venue,” Gassler said.
All gate proceeds from Sunday’s show will be donated to the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve’s Toys-for-Tots program. “All gate proceeds from Sunday’s show goes for Toys-for-Tots,” Shiley said. “Sunday’s show is $20.”
Shiley is very excited to host Pickin’ in the Panhandle. “If people want to have a good time, if you like bluegrass and country music, good food, good camaraderie and a good time, come to the show,” he said. “I think it will be an enjoyable time for all ages.”