Hogslop String Band

Hogslop String Band headlines the 11th annual Classic City American Music Festival at The Foundry on Saturday, July 6, 2019. The event celebrated country, blue grass, and “old time string” music through the 12 artists who performed at the 2 stages throughout the day. (Photo/Caroline Barnes)

The Foundry saw plenty of smiles and impromptu dancing as folks of all ages twirled around and tapped their feet to the americana, folk-country and bluegrass music that filled the air during the 11th annual Classic City American Country Music Festival.

Sponsored by Yuengling, the event was created 11 years ago to provide another opportunity for Athens residents to celebrate the Fourth of July. According to Troy Aubrey, entertainment director for The Graduate, there were not many social activities happening in the days following Independence Day while businesses were still closed.

“I was like, ‘There’s so many people in town looking for stuff to do, it’s summer break, so why don’t we put a little localized mini-festival together and just kinda really concentrate on a lot of the bluegrass, americana, alt-country, folky groups,’” Aubrey said. “And the first year we did it, like 200 people showed up, and it was like, ‘Oh wow, this thing’s working. Let’s do it again next year.’”

Adam Klein & The Wild Fires performed early in the evening to a relaxed and attentive crowd. Its upbeat yet laid-back sound added to a happy and carefree attitude that filled the music venue.

Adam Klein, lead singer-songwriter for Adam Klein & The Wild Fires, performed a few songs from his new solo album, Low Flyin’ Planes, that was released this spring. He is about to embark on a tour to New York and back and said travelling, both for shows and in general, has greatly influenced his music.

“For me, it takes getting out there and that sort of stimulation and aliveness and interactions that you have and stories that you hear and things that you learn,” Klein said. “You learn about the local color and lure of different areas, and I think that’s certainly made its way into my music.”

Country music-lovers tapped their feet and smiled to Kleins’s music as they sat in the shade of the Foundry’s courtyard, enjoying cold beer and Southern comfort food. A couple twirled about in front of the outdoor stage, dancing to the music.

Aubrey tries to keep the festival local, with only one or two of the 10 to 12 bands — typically the headliners — brought in from elsewhere. This year, the Hogslop String Band traveled from Nashville to perform their energetic, engaging and funny bluegrass show in the Classic City for the first time.

“Gabriel Kelly is actually the guitarist for the band, he’s originally from Athens so there’s a connection there,” Aubrey said.

Andy Howard, a marketing communications manager at Georgia Tech, travels the country choreographing clogging routines, and many of his routines are choreographed to the Hogslop String Band’s music. When he discovered the band was coming to Athens for the music festival, he knew he had to make the trip from Atlanta to see it perform in person.

“I’ve never seen them live, and I tracked them and they said they were going to be here and so I decided to come,” Howard said. “Plus, they’re dropping a new album [soon].”

The Nashville-based string quartet gave quite a show at the festival. Washtub bass player Casey “Pickle” McBride added a comedic aspect to the band’s spectacular bluegrass performance with his enigmatic hillbilly character consistently engaging with the crowd.

“Is it okay with y’all if we get a little crazy tonight?” McBride said to an emphatic audience before thumping along to a fast-paced song on a homemade washtub string instrument.

Festival-goers showed their appreciation with loud cheers and whistles after each song as well as spontaneous dancing, both in their seats and across the floor in front of the stage. The Hogslop String Band capped off a music-filled day with an entertaining show for a cheerful crowd.

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