18th Annual Renofest Festival this weekend in Hartsville

The biggest bluegrass festival in the area returns to the Pee Dee as RenoFest returns to Hartsville with a host of events during the weekend March 27 – 29.

When you say the name “Reno” in Bluegrass Music, you are talking name value, gifted musicians, songwriters, years of experience and entertainment. The name value started with first generation Don Reno and has carried on with the second generation in son Ronnie Reno. It is in honor of Don Reno that a group of dedicated fans in Hartsville started the fabulous RenoFest. Ronnie and the Reno Tradition carry the banner for the sound that made traditional bluegrass music famous.Events include:

Friday, March 27:
The South Carolina Championship Bluegrass Band Contest kicks off the 18th annual Renofest at 1:30 p.m., Friday in The Center Theatre in Hartsville. This championship contest has attracted many great musicians all looking to win the First Place prize of $1,500.

Following the competition, the winning band will play at a Friday Night Hoe Down in Burry Park. This free concert, sponsored by Black Creek Arts, features BBQ from Mr. B’s, $8 for eat-in or take-out. BBQ tickets will be sold at the site or can be bought earlier at Black Creek Arts or online at www.renofest.com. Audience members can eat picnic style on the grounds of Burry Park- bring your chairs and blankets. Look for area vendors displaying their wares, the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts selling desserts, the Pepsi truck, beer truck and hot dogs, too.

At 6:00 p.m., The Virginia Luthiers, four exceptional musicians and world-renowned musical instrument builders, will perform, with some of the best guitars, mandolins, violins, ukuleles, and banjos available today.

Next, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m., the Place, Show and Win (first, second and third place) Bands from the Renofest 2015 Band Contest will be announced; each of the top three bands will perform a short 20-minute set.

In addition to the recent winners of the 2015 Bluegrass Band Contest, Jus’ Cauz, the winner of the 2014 contest will also play. This award-winning Danville-based group, also the 2012 Best Bluegrass Band in Virginia, has just released its first CD, “Then and There.” The album, which features 14 songs, is being billed as “high energy bluegrass.”

The evening will be topped off with Honky Tonk Hartsville, with jam sessions popping up in downtown restaurants pickin’ & singing “until the cows come home.”

Saturday, March 28:
Saturday events of Renofest include the guitar and banjo competitions starting at 10 a.m. at The Center Theatre. Jus’ Cauz, last year’s winner of the South Carolina Championship Bluegrass Band Contest, will entertain after the performances and before the winners are announced.

Following lunch featuring sidewalk vendors, the afternoon concert features Terry Baucom and the Dukes of Drive, Ronnie Reno and the Reno Tradition, and Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice.

Now after decades as a sideman, Terry Baucom has assembled his first band under his leadership, The Dukes of Drive. Richard Bennett is on guitar, Matt Wallace on bass, and Joey Lemons on mandolin. They’ll be performing music from Terry’s two solo projects, and from Richard and Matt’s records.

Ronnie Reno, the son of Don Reno, will perform with his band the Reno Tradition, an act that encapsulates the greatest sounds of traditional bluegrass music.

The evening concert brings back professional bluegrass bands of Virginia Luthiers, Terry Baucom & the Dukes of Drive, Ronnie Reno& the Reno Tradition, and Junior Sisk & Ramblers Choice.

Sunday, March 29:
The final event is the favorite of concert goers, a Gospel Sing on Palm Sunday at Wesley United Methodist Church on College Avenue, down from The Center Theatre.

Author: Duane Childers

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