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Bluegrass Festival in Forest Park Saturday

By Joel Hall

jhall@news-daily.com

This Saturday, from 11 a.m., to 10 p.m., bluegrass performers from around the country will take the stage at the State Farmers Market in Forest Park, during the 32nd Annual WRFG 89.3 FM Peachblossom Bluegrass Festival.

Headlining this year's concert will be Carrie Hassler & Hard Rain, whose 2006, self-titled, debut album is No. 10 in the Top 15 bluegrass albums, according to Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine.

The popular Atlanta-based bluegrass-comedy band, Cedar Hill, also will be featured, along with DejaBlue Grass Band, 4 Ever Blue, Johnny Roquemore & The Apostles of Bluegrass, The Jot'em Down Boys, The Larios Brothers, The Nashvillian Family Band, Southern Heart, Well Strung, Whoa Nelly, and the Tucker Station String Band.

WRFG Station Administrator Joan Baptist said the radio station will be 35 years old in July and the Peachblossom Bluegrass Festival is one of its oldest and most successful fund-raisers. She said WRFG is one of the few radio stations in the metro area that continuously broadcasts bluegrass music, and the festival is another way to bring attention to it.

"Bluegrass is an art form that doesn't get a lot of airplay anywhere, and that's part of our mission to give a voice to indigenous forms of music," said Baptist. She said the concert brings together bluegrass aficionados from around the region in a "family oriented" atmosphere.

"It's so neat to have it in the Farmers Market, because people can take breaks and buy fresh produce," said Baptist. "Some people are brand new and some people have been coming for 30 years ... you feel a real sense of community."

Baptist said last year the festival sold between 500 and 600 admission tickets.

Volunteer Event Coordinator Sharon Wiggins said the most unique feature of the festival is that all of the coordinators -- and performers -- are unpaid.

"We always have a really good mix of national talent, local talent, and regional talent that all donate their time to keep this a true fund-raiser," said Wiggins. "This is one of the big money raisers for us. We usually have one or two headliners every year."

Jim "Duck" Adkins, lead banjo player for Cedar Hill, said the five-man band has performed in 28 of the previous festivals. He said he is happy to support WRFG because of its support of bluegrass and other forms of music, like jazz, blues, and zydeco.

"They're not many radio stations that play bluegrass music," said Adkins. "WRFG being the melting pot that it is, they promote bluegrass music, so we are willing to help them in anyway we can."

Hassler, a bluegrass vocalist from Crossville, Tenn., whose style has been compared to Alison Krauss and Rhonda Vincent, said she is "just glad to help out.

"We have not been in the [Atlanta] area very much, so, hopefully, we'll get to make some new fans and new friends," said Hassler. "I'm really looking forward to it.

Tickets for the concert are $10 for WRFG members, $12 in advance, $15 at the door, and $6 for students, aged six and older. Children, aged six and under, can get in free. For advanced tickets, call (404) 523-3471.