Acoustic Music Festival

Jo Ellis: Acoustic Music Festival tuning up
The Joplin Globe – June 7, 2009

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The sound of music — country, western, bluegrass, mountain and folk — will fill the Carthage square Saturday.

The sounds will be unadulterated. There will be no “ploi-nnngs” of electric guitars and no thudding “boom-booms” of boosted bass that shake you to your core. It will be just down-home music played with guitars, fiddles, dobros, banjos, mandolins and basses.

The eighth annual Carthage Acoustic Music Festival is free to the public. All you need to take is a lawn chair and an appreciation for music played and sung as it originally was intended to be played, sung and heard.

Six bands have been booked to play for nine hours. H.J. “Jake” Johnson, who has spearheaded the festival all these years, said the professional groups start at 1 p.m. and end at 10 p.m.

They include the Farnum Family from Galena, Missouri, a longtime favorite at Silver Dollar City, who will take the stage at 1 p.m.

On the Edge, based in the Baxter Springs, Kan., and Joplin area, will play at 2 p.m. and again at 6 p.m. The group features an eclectic mix of songs and styles, and a female singer who “is really good,” according to Johnson.

The Vern Young Trio plays at 3 and 7 p.m. The 85-year-old Young sings mountain and western ballads from the 1940s and 1950s, and is based in Lamar.

Another Kansas group, the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band, of Lawrence, will play two sessions — at 4 and 8 p.m. Along with two fiddlers, a guitarist, a Dobro player and an accordion player, the band serves up some comedic music featuring kazoos, whistles and drums.

The Fabulous BRD’s are a local group featuring Bob Novac as lead singer. They have appeared numerous times at The Woodshed in Carthage, and will play at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The final group, Baled Green and Wired Tight, will perform at 9 p.m. The foursome includes Lee Ann and Jack Sours from Neosho. The group plans to bring along a caller with the hope of getting the audience to participate in contra (Civil War-style) dancing in the street. It was a popular activity last year, Johnson said.

In addition, the Alferd Packer Memorial String Band and the Vern Young Trio also will play a pre-festival concert at 7 p.m. Friday in the old Carthage High School auditorium. Tickets for the concert are $8.

One of the best parts of the festival, Johnson said, is the open stage starting at 10 a.m. Saturday that allows amateur musicians to showcase budding talents.

“That’s about as much fun as any of it,” Johnson said. “No electric and no karaoke is permitted. Individuals are given 10 minutes to perform, and two or more musicians are allowed 20 minutes.”

ArtCentral is sponsoring the acoustic festival this year and will have a tent displaying artwork by several members. Funding is by the Helen S. Boylan Foundation, with other considerations provided by the city of Carthage, the Jasper County Commission and the Mornin’ Mail. Johnson is owner of Heritage Publishing Co. and editor of the Mornin’ Mail.

Plenty of shade awaits visitors to the square. I can think of no better way to spend a Saturday than sitting in a comfortable chair, listening to some real “folk” music and, when you’re hungry, grabbing a hamburger or hot dog from the Exchange Club’s concession stand.

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