Past Events

Bluegrass Saturday Night – Nov. 16 2019
  Featuring Kenny & Amanda Smith Band and Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band
    with special guest Downtown String Band

McKinney Performing Arts Center
111 N. Tennessee Street, McKinney, Texas  75069


A great crowd was on hand for our Bluegrass Saturday Night in historic downtown McKinney Texas.  The show featured the GRAMMY-nominated Kenny & Amanda Smith Band and Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, along with special guest Downtown String Band.  Pictures from the show are in our Special Events Photo Gallery.  This event was funded in part by a grant from the City of McKinney Arts Commission, with thanks from the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.

Winners of the IBMA Emerging Artist of the Year award, the Kenny & Amanda Smith Band combines gutsy, heartfelt vocals and brilliant instrumental talents to create one of the most compelling sounds in bluegrass music today.  Kenny, a two-time IBMA Guitarist of the Year, is considered one of the most influential flatpicking-style guitarists of his generation.  Amanda is a winner of the IBMA Female Vocalist of the Year award and delivers some of the most soulful vocals in bluegrass today.

Sgt. Peppers Lonely Bluegrass Band offered amazing musicianship and vocals on innovative bluegrass interpretations of Beatles songs like Eleanor Rigby, Come Together, Back in the USSR, Blackbird, and more.  The Downtown String Band highlighted the bluegrass and traditional music of Gerald Jones, Mike Jump, Michael Morrison, and Alan Tompkins.  

About McKinney Performing Arts Center

This was the third production by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation at the McKinney Performing Arts Center (MPAC), the multi-purpose theater in the historic Collin County Courthouse.  MPAC is the center of the McKinney, Texas historic district and is surrounded by a variety of restaurants and boutiques.

Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival – October 18-19, 2019

Farmers Branch Historical Park
2540 Farmers Branch Lane, Farmers Branch Texas  75234

The tenth annual Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival was held on Friday and Saturday, October 18-19, 2019 in the beautiful Farmers Branch Historical Park in Farmers Branch, Texas.  The festival was presented by the City of Farmers Branch and Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.  Incredible musical performances were provided by the Del McCoury Band, Sam Bush Band, Larry Sparks & The Lonesome Ramblers, the Travelin’ McCourys, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, the Kruger Brothers & Dallas Symphony Orchestra Quartet, Sierra Hull & Justin Moses, Chatham County Line, Texas & Tennessee featuring John R. Bowman and Steve Huber, and the Purple Hulls.  Photos are available in our Photo gallery(more…)

Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard – June 29 2019

Wylie Olde City Park, 112 S. Ballard Ave., Wylie, Texas  75098

Wylie Jubilee spectatorsBreaking Grass 170pxJohn R Bowman 170px
This year was our SEVENTH big year for the Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard and it was a great day of music happening on the big stage in Olde City Park in historic downtown Wylie, Texas.  A great crowd was building early in the day until we were interrupted by a large thunderstorm that shut things down on the main stage from about 4:30p-7:30p.  Fortunately, many folks stuck around under the tents in the park and got to enjoy a short acoustic set by Breaking Grass under the tents, with more Breaking Grass on the main stage, and a big finale by Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band on the big stage!  It was a great day of food, fun, live bluegrass music, a spectacular car show, and more – all free of charge.  Check our photo gallery for great event photos.

The musical lineup included Breaking Grass, Texas & Tennessee, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, Salt Creek, Bobby Giles & Texas Gales, and the Herrins Bluegrass Band.

This event was made possible by Wylie Downtown Merchants Association, City of WylieNorth Texas Equestrian Center, the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, and many other fine sponsors.  Photos by Craig Kelly and Nathaniel Dalzell.

A Special Evening with Tim May & Steve Smith
Friday February 22, 2019 at 7:15p

University Park United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall
4024 Caruth Boulevard, Dallas, Texas  75225

A great crowd of folks joined us for a special evening of music with Steve Smith & Tim May on Friday night, Feb. 22 2019, including a whole busload of folks from Temple Baptist Church in Flower Mound, Texas.  Mandolinist/vocalist Steve Smith and Nashville guitarist/vocalist Tim May brought us an evening of original, traditional, and swing music.  These two have collaborated in studio and on stages nationwide, and their show featured tight vocals and guitar, mandolin, octave mandolin, and twin mandolin works in a broad range of styles.  “The” Gerald Jones even stepped in to provide banjo accompaniment and his usual comic relief!

Cuts from Tim & Steve’s latest record, a tribute to the music of the Carter Family, were featured.  The duet album includes a swing version of Little Darlin’ Pal of Mine and a haunting acapella duet of Sailor Boy.  Over 250 songs were considered for the album, and the duo narrowed the selection down to their eight favorites.  Our thanks to Tim and Steve for an evening of terrific acoustic music.

A Special Evening with Dennis W. Parker & Friends
Friday January 18, 2019 at 7:15p

University Park United Methodist Church Fellowship Hall
4024 Caruth Boulevard, Dallas, Texas  75225

Dennis W. ParkerDennis W. Parker and Alan TompkinsDennis Parker & Jessica Tompkins

A nice crowd joined us for an evening of music with Dennis W. Parker and friends on Friday night, Jan. 18 2019.  Dennis is a member of the GRAMMY-winning band Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder where he sings and plays guitar. Dennis has also played professionally with Lee Ann Womack, Tracy Lawrence, Joe Diffie, Mark Chesnutt, as well as others.

He is an amazing instrumentalist who has won state contests on fiddle, banjo, and guitar, and is also one of the most soulful vocalists in music today.  He brings his smooth, relaxed style to bluegrass, country, gospel, pop, and soul music and makes it enjoyable for everyone.

Dennis sang a wide range of songs made popular by artists such as James Taylor, Joe Diffie, the Stanley Brothers, Bonnie Raitt, and many more, and shared stories of his life journey and Christian walk.  He was joined on upright bass by Alan Tompkins and also by the Purple Hulls, Katy and Penny Clark, for several songs.  Dennis also asked Jessica Tompkins to join him on stage to sing Good Good Father.

An Evening With Tim O’Brien
  Featuring Jan Fabricius and special guest Downtown String Band
Saturday November 4, 2017 at 7:00p

McKinney Performing Arts Center
111 N. Tennessee Street, McKinney, Texas  75069

Downtown String Band at MPACTim O'Brien & Jan Fabricius at MPAC
A great crowd was on hand to enjoy An Evening With Tim O’Brien, a special evening of acoustic music by Grammy-winning singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist Tim O’Brien featuring Jan Fabricius.  The opening act was the Downtown String Band, a Dallas-area band that highlights the bluegrass and traditional music of Gerald Jones, Hailey Sandoz, Michael Morrison, and Alan Tompkins.  Pictures from the show are available in our Special Events Photo Gallery.

About Tim O’Brien

Tim grew up singing in church and in school, and after seeing Doc Watson on TV, became a lifelong devotee of old time and bluegrass music.  Tim first toured nationally in the 1980’s with Colorado bluegrass band Hot Rize. Kathy Mattea scored a country hit with his song Walk The Way The Wind Blows in 1986, and soon artists like Nickel Creek and Garth Brooks covered his songs. Over the years, Tim has released 15 solo CDs and has collaborated with his sister Mollie O’Brien, songwriter Darrell Scott, and noted old time musician Dirk Powell.  He’s performed or recorded with Steve Earle, Mark Knopfler, Bill Frisell, and Steve Martin, and produced records for Yonder Mountain Stringband, David Bromberg, and Canada’s Old Man Luedecke.

O’Brien’s show featured his solid guitar, fiddle, and banjo, along with his engaging vocals and harmony from Jan Fabricius.  Listeners enjoyed a range of original compositions and traditional arrangements from Tim’s many albums, mixed with stories and Tim’s self-deprecating humor.

About McKinney Performing Arts Center

This was the first production by the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation at the McKinney Performing Arts Center (MPAC), the multi-purpose theater in the historic Collin County Courthouse.  MPAC is the center of the McKinney, Texas historic district with a variety of restaurants and boutiques that make it the perfect destination for a Saturday of shopping, dining, and fun!

Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard – July 1 2017

Ballard Avenue, Downtown Wylie, Texas  75098

Wylie 2017 Steve Huber 170px
The Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard was a great success again for our FIFTH big year, with all the music coming from the big stage in Olde City Park in historic downtown Wylie, Texas.  Thousands of folks enjoyed live bluegrass music as well as great food, a spectacular car show, pony rides, arts and crafts, and more – all free of charge.  Check our photo gallery for great event photos.

The musical lineup included IBMA Fiddler of the Year and Female Vocalist of the Year Becky Buller, along with her all-star Becky Buller Band, Texas & Tennessee (with John R. Bowman, Steve Huber, Alan Tompkins, and Ron Inscore), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, Robertson County Line, the Bethlehem Bluegrass Band, and Phil Ferguson & Texas True!

This event was made possible by Wylie Downtown Merchants Association, City of WylieNorth Texas Equestrian Center, the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, and many other fine sponsors.  Photos by Nathaniel Dalzell, Mark Porter, and Jeff Campbell.

An Evening With The Surly Gentlemen
A brand new band with Clay Hess, Tim Shelton, & Brennan Hess
Saturday May 6, 2017 at 7:15p

University Park United Methodist Church
4024 Caruth Boulevard, Dallas, Texas  75225

University Park United Methodist Church
A good crowd of bluegrass fans joined us for an incredible night of bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music by The Surly Gentlemen at the University Park United Methodist Church on Saturday night, May 6. 

The Surly Gentlemen are Clay Hess, Tim Shelton, and Brennan Hess.  Many fans first became familiar with Clay during his tenure as lead guitarist for Ricky Skaggs & Kentucky Thunder.  The group won a GRAMMY Award with Clay as guitarist.  After departing Skaggs, Clay toured and recorded with several of the top bands in bluegrass, and eventually released his critically acclaimed solo CD Rain.  The title track went to #1 on the BluegrassToday.com charts, and his song I Know Why has become a bluegrass gospel favorite. 

Acclaimed singer Tim Shelton was a founder and member of NewFound Road for more than a dozen years, during which the group achieved great success.  Today Tim is creating his own new music and breaking out into new musical territory.  Multi-instrumentalist Brennan Hess is Clay’s son and is pursuing his own musical ventures.

Kevin Prater Band in Concert – March 7, 2017

University Park United Methodist Church
4024 Caruth Boulevard, Dallas, Texas  75225

Kevin Prater Band
A good group of bluegrass fans enjoyed a special evening of bluegrass and bluegrass gospel music by the Kevin Prater Band at the University Park United Methodist Church on Tuesday night, March 7.  The Kevin Prater Band (from eastern Kentucky) bases their sound on strong vocal harmonies. Built around high trios, their style is reminiscent of the classic Seldom Scene and 1970’s Country Gentlemen performances. They are steeped in the tradition of Gospel music and pride themselves on acapella hymns and great gospel songs. The band loves bringing old favorites to life.  The band’s influences include the Osborne Brothers, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, Red Allen, and The Stanley Brothers.

Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival – October 14-15, 2016

Farmers Branch Historical Park
2540 Farmers Branch Lane, Farmers Branch Texas  75234

Jerry Douglas & Earls of Leicester - Bloomin' Bluegrass 2016David Grisman - Bloomin' Bluegrass Festival 2016Tim O'Brien - Bloomin' Bluegrass Festival 2016

The seventh annual Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival & Chili Cook-Off was held on Friday and Saturday, October 14-15, 2016 in the beautiful Farmers Branch Historical Park in Farmers Branch, Texas and was free and open to the public.  The festival was presented by the City of Farmers Branch, Texas and Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.  Incredible musical performances were provided by The Del McCoury Band with special guest David Grisman, Jerry Douglas presents the Earls of Leicester, Rhonda Vincent & The Rage, Tim O’Brien, Sister Sadie, the Band of Ruhks, the Gibson Brothers, Gold Heart, Texas & Tennessee featuring John R. Bowman and Steve Huber, and The Herrins.  Jerry Douglas, a multi-GRAMMY-winning artist, was honored with the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation’s Bluegrass Star Award on Saturday.  More information is available on our News page, and great photos are available in our Photo gallery(more…)

Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard – July 2 2016

Ballard Avenue, Downtown Wylie, Texas  75098

Steve Huber and John Bowman of Texas & Tennessee at Wylie Jubilee - Bluegrass on Ballard - July 2 2016Special Consensus at Wylie Jubilee - Bluegrass on Ballard - July 2 2016Patience Newsom at Wylie Jubilee - Bluegrass on Ballard - July 2 2016
The Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard was a great success again this year, with the fun all centered around the stage in the center of historic downtown Wylie, Texas.  Thousands of folks enjoyed live bluegrass music as well as great food, a spectacular car show, pony rides, arts and crafts, and more – all free of charge.  The Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard was capped off by a spectacular pyrotechnics high above the stage, courtesy of the City of Wylie.  Check our photo gallery for great event photos.

The musical lineup included Greg Cahill and the Special Consensus, Texas & Tennessee (with John R. Bowman, Steve Huber, Alan Tompkins, and Ron Inscore), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, the Downtown String Band, Strings of Faith, (with Alan Tompkins, Gerald Jones, Dale Morris, Jr., and Michael Morrison), and Phil Ferguson & Texas True!

A highlight of the day was when Patience Newsom of Plano, Texas received her beginning banjo through the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation Play It Forward! Instrument Lending Program!  Foundation president Alan Tompkins presented the banjo to Patience and her father at the Foundation table near the stage.  Patience plans to take banjo lessons from Gerald Jones, so we should be seeing her on stage sometime soon!

We were thrilled with Mr. Phil Ferguson of Phil Ferguson & Texas True made a surprise presentation of a beautiful Yamaha 6-string acoustic guitar to the Foundation for use in the Play It Forward! Instrument Lending Program.  Mr. Ferguson complimented the Foundation for its efforts in making bluegrass musical instruments available to young people through the program, and expressed his hope that a future great guitarist might get his or her start on the donated instrument.

This event was made possible by Wylie Downtown Merchants Association, City of WylieNorth Texas Equestrian Center, the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, and many other fine sponsors.  Photos by Bob Compere, Theresa Laney Clayton-Duffee, and Julie Tompkins.

Front Porch Showdown Bluegrass Band Contest – June 4, 2016

Dallas Heritage Village, Dallas, Texas  75215

Band Contest WinnerThe Bluegrass Heritage Foundation teamed up with Dallas Heritage Village, a shady, 20-acre tree-lined park with authentic 19th-century pioneer and Victorian homes located near downtown Dallas, for the third annual Front Porch Showdown Bluegrass Band Contest.  Bluegrass bands from around Texas each had 15 minutes to take the stage, entertain the crowd, and clear out before the next band stepped in.  A total of $1,500 in cash prize money was on the line.  Judging was by audience ballot, with a great crowd on hand, and over 160 ballots were cast.  The winning bands were:

1st:  Bethlehem Bluegrass Band (Hallsville, Texas)
2nd:  Salt Creek (Sanger, Texas)
3rd:  FM 455 (Prosper, Texas)FM 455 on stage
4th:  Pearl & the Polka Dots (Weatherford, Texas)
5th:  Bluestem (Dallas, Texas)

Best Dressed Bluegrass Band:  FM 455
Village Favorite:  Pearl & the Polka Dots

Families explored the Dallas Heritage Village buildings and exhibits and enjoyed a picnic in the park all afternoon.  Bluegrass music rang from the porches and pathways as jammers picked their favorite tunes.  It was a day of family-friendly music and fun.

Lone Star Fest – April 22-23, 2016

South Oaks Baptist Church
5925 U. S. Highway 287, Arlington Texas  76017

Kenny Smith at Lone Star Fest 2016. Photo by Bob Compere.Flatt Lonesome at Lone Star Fest 2016. Photo by Bob Compere.Blake Williams Flatt Lonesome at Lone Star Fest 2016.
Lone Star Fest 2016 was held on Friday and Saturday, April 22-23 at South Oaks Baptist Church in Arlington, Texas.  The festival featured performances by Flatt Lonesome, Kenny & Amanda Smith Band, Bobby Giles & Music Mountain, Pine Island Station, the Coleman Brothers & The Lone Star Boys, The Herrins, Robertson County Line, and Pearl & The Polka Dots.  Bill Monroe’s last banjo player, official Blue Grass Boy Blake Williams, packed the house with his storytelling workshop entitled “Life on the Road with Lester and Bill.”  Williams also emceed a portion of the festival and stepped in on banjo with the Coleman Brothers to play a crowd-pleasing rendition of Monroe’s GRAMMY-winning tune Southern Flavor.

Attendees enjoyed a great two-day stage show and a load of jamming all around the South Oaks Baptist Church Activities Building.  Many festival participants also attended the guitar, mandolin, banjo, and dobro workshops that were conducted on Saturday by Kenny Smith, Buddy Robertson, Jacob Burleson, Kelsi Robertson, David Hallmark, Michael Stockton, Robert Duke, John Meyer, and Paul Harrigill.  Festival attendees Jacob Williams and Dalton Bartlett received instruments through the Play It Forward! free instrument lending program on stage with help from Blue Grass Boy Blake Williams.  More photographs are available in our Lone Star Fest photo gallery.  Festival photographs courtesy of Bob Compere.

Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival – October 17-18, 2015

Farmers Branch Historical Park
2540 Farmers Branch Lane, Farmers Branch Texas  75234

Del McCoury - photo by Julie R. TompkinsHot Rize - photo by Nathaniel DalzellPeter Rowan - photo by Bob CompereMike Compton - photo by Bob Compere

The sixth annual Bloomin’ Bluegrass Festival & Chili Cook-Off was held on Friday and Saturday, October 16-17, 2015 in the beautiful Farmers Branch Historical Park in Farmers Branch, Texas and was free and open to the public.  The festival was presented by the City of Farmers Branch, Texas and Bluegrass Heritage Foundation.  Incredible musical performances were provided by The Del McCoury Band, Hot Rize featuring Red Knuckles & The Trailblazers, Balsam Range, Lee Ann Womack, The Grascals, the Peter Rowan Bluegrass Band, Helen Highwater Stringband, The Hillbenders, the Snyder Family Band, and The Herrins.  Mr. Del McCoury, a GRAMMY-winning National Heritage Fellow and member of the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Hall of Fame, was honored with the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation’s Bluegrass Star Award on Saturday.  More information is available on our News page(more…)

Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard – June 27 2015

Ballard Avenue, Downtown Wylie, Texas  75098

Joe Mullins & The Radio RamblersJohn R. Bowman at Wylie Jubilee 2015Lottie and Olivia King of Alvarado, Texas
The Wylie Jubilee – Bluegrass on Ballard was a huge hit, with all the fun centered around the big stage in the center of historic downtown Wylie, Texas!  Thousands enjoyed live bluegrass music as well as great food, a spectacular car show, pony rides for the kids, arts and crafts, and more – all free with no ticket required!  Check our photo gallery for lots of great event photos.

The musical lineup included Joe Mullins & The Radio Ramblers, Texas & Tennessee (with John R. Bowman, Steve Huber, Alan Tompkins, Gerald Jones, and Reggie Rueffer)  Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Bluegrass Band, In Achordance, Bobby Giles & Music Mountain, and Phil Ferguson & Texas True!

Highlights of the day were when Lottie and Olivia King of Alvarado, Texas came on stage with their musical hero John R. Bowman (formerly of Alison Krauss & Union Station, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, and the Boxcars) to receive a mandolin and fiddle through the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation Play It Forward! Instrument Lending Program!  Foundation president Alan Tompkins presented the instruments to the King sisters as their family watched the festivities.

Later in the evening, Joe Mullins made a surprise presentation of a new Recording King 5-string resonator banjo for use in the Play It Forward! Instrument Lending Program.  Mr. Mullins eloquently complimented the Foundation on the good that had been done through the program, and expressed his hope that a future banjo superstar might get his or her start on the donated Recording King banjo.  Mr. Mullins noted that Janet Davis Acoustic Music of Bentonville, Arkansas endorses his group and also contributed to the donation.

This event was made possible by Wylie Downtown Merchants Association, City of WylieNorth Texas Equestrian Center, the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation, and many other fine supporting sponsors.  Photos by Bob Compere.

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