Bluegrass Jamboree brings country music fun to Tri-Cities

By Zach Armstrong

HOPEWELL, Va -- Starting with its first show in September of 2020, the Bluegrass Jamboree hosted by the Prince George/Hopewell Chamber of Commerce has already attracted many to Saucy’s Barbecue for fun nights to enjoy local country music talent.

At the jamboree, the bands are introduced before playing for two hours with a short break in the middle. Then usually the raffle winner is announced. Everyone gets a free raffle ticket and a chance to win tickets to the Old Dominion Barn Dance at the Beacon Theatre. After the show, the band has an open jam with anyone that wants to join, so attendees are encouraged to bring an instrument.

The bands who perform at the jamboree, local to Central Virginia, are often a different band each time. County Seat Band appeared on Saturday, Aug. 21. Previously, Rappahannock Crossing, Josh Grigsby & County Line, Schuyler Bluegrass Band, and Back Forty Drive have also performed.

Rappahannock Crossing and Schuyler Bluegrass Band return in October and November, and Mill Run make their first appearance in September. Most of the Mill Run members live in Prince George.

Anywhere from 50-100 people attend the events from as far away as Powhatan and Ashland. The events are promoted on WNRN’s Bluegrass Sunday Morning shows across the State, as well as WHAP. T-shirts are also distributed which include a design by Prince George native, Bryce Hipps.

Attendees bring a chair or blanket and spread out on the lawn. Some people eat while watching and others eat inside then come out to listen. Some don’t eat at all and just enjoy a beer.

“We’ve been doing these for almost a year and COViD really threw a wrench in the works. But, I think for a second season we are doing pretty well.” said Communications Coordinator of Prince George/Hopewell Chamber of Commerce Daniel Jones. “It’s good to provide this kind of traditional Americana music for the public and add another live music option in the area. Also, it has generated more visibility for Downtown Hopewell and attracted some visitors that may otherwise have never been here." 

Inception of the jamboree began with Hopewell/Prince George Chamber CEO Becky McDonough who had the desire to have a bluegrass concert in the area. The event was organized with the help of LuAnn Clark, who has a sister in a bluegrass band, and friend of McDonough Julie Childrey, who is also a bluegrass fan. Saucy’s BBQ owner Tom McCormack is also a big bluegrass fan, so he naturally agreed to host.

Heather Lyne, the director of the Hopewell Downtown Partnership, was also instrumental in making the event happen by securing a grant from CultureWorks Richmond, which helped pay for the bands and cover the music licensing.

People can find the full list of shows on the PG/Hopewell Chamber of Commerce website, County Seat are coming on Aug. 21, Mill Run Sept. 25, Rappahannock Crossing Oct. 9, and Schuyler Bluegrass Band closes Nov. 6.