Saturday, May 17, 2014 – 9:30AM – 6:00 PM
5920 Hagan-Stone Park Road
Pleasant Garden NC 27313
High Lonesome Strings Bluegrass Association & Hagan-Stone Park present the 17th Annual Pickin’ in the Park Bluegrass Music Festival at the Clyde Davis Memorial Stage in Hagan-Stone Park. The public is invited to bring a chair or picnic blanket and come share with us a day of free music. Bring an instrument and come early to attend free bluegrass instrument workshops hosted by regional and professional musicians! Please visit the Picking in the Park page for more details. This year’s headliner are Al Batten & The Bluegrass Reunion:
As bandleader and co-founder of the Bluegrass Reunion, Al Batten has proven true the concept that time, practice, and dedication are what it takes to master the 5-string banjo. The “3-T’s” are his staples: Taste, Timing, and Tone. Following his initiation to the instrument in his teens, Earl Scruggs, Don Reno, Bill Emerson, Walter Hensley, and Billy Edwards heavily influenced him. And by combining these influences, Al developed a unique style of his own. In addition, his lead singing is second to none. For just as soon as he sings the first note, you can immediately tell it comes straight from the heart! By carrying on his family tradition in agriculture (farmer, leader in the local FFA, former Boy Scout leader, and retired agriculture teacher), Al has learned to keep things down to earth, not only in his music, but in life as a whole. His quick wit and down-home demeanor only add to his outgoing personality and his good-hearted nature. These traits have become the standard for the Bluegrass Reunion, not only in the music business, but in his home, church, and community, as well. Al has two children, Brian and Lori; four grandchildren, Lily, Cate, Sarah, and Nickolas; and makes his home in Selma, NC.
Handling the guitar chores for the Bluegrass Reunion is band co-founder David Turnage. By coincidence, he and Al both bought their first banjos the same week, from the same music store. Shortly after that, David realized that the banjo was not necessarily his instrument of choice and switched to the guitar. He and Al founded the Bluegrass Reunion in 1973 and have stuck together ever since. His rhythm playing and tasteful choice of “runs” on the guitar highlight the timing for the unit and is the foundation for keeping the band “gelled” together. In addition, his solid baritone singing rounds out the trios, while his lead singing lends a smoother, more heartfelt feeling to the numbers he is featured on. David is a retired engineer from BellSouth and retired from the NC National Guard at the Rank of Command Sgt. Major. His extremely outgoing personality and knowledge of current events allow him to interject a highly informed viewpoint to any conversation, as well as to be able to interact with people from all walks of life. Still living within a stone’s throw of the home where he was raised in, David still dabbles in farming and like other members of the band, he exhibits a strong dedication to family and community. He and his wife Jeanette have two children, Allen and Nona; grandchildren Addilee, Kathryn, McKenna, Luke and Coy; and live in Wilson’s Mills, NC.
Newest member of the Bluegrass Reunion, Mike Aldridge, comes to the band with a great wealth of experience. Having played in bands such as Joe Snipes and the Country Boys, The Camp Springs Newgrass, AL Wood and the Smoky Ridge Boys, The Bass Mountain Boys, and The Bluegrass Experience, Mike is considered one of the best traditional mandolin stylists in the nation today!! His sense of timing and love for the traditional sound of bluegrass music have proven to fit right in with the Bluegrass Reunion and the direction in which they want their music to go. Mike is an automotive technician and along with his wife Linda and sons Brian, Daniel, and Nathan make their home in Saxapahaw, NC.
A veteran bluegrass performer, fiddler Johnny Ridge brings in the completing element to round out the unit. His fiddling style is heavily influenced by some of the pioneers of bluegrass music’s beginnings, as well as many second generation fiddlers: Chubby Wise, Tater Tate, Benny Martin, Jim Shumate, and Bobby Hicks, just to name a few. However, his greatest influence came from his father, who started him out playing at the age of 10. He has worked in many different groups down through the years, most notably his 16-year stint with the now-defunct Bass Mountain Boys. Before joining the Bluegrass Reunion, he and his father reunited as members of Pete Corum & Rising Sun. He has worked on many recording sessions and even tried his hand at acting in a couple of dinner theater productions. Johnny contributes his bass singing to the quartets and occasionally can be persuaded to add a baritone or lead voice to the trios. A true team player with a strong affection for “the old sound”, his desire to bring the tradition back to the bluegrass meshes perfectly with the rest of the group’s ideas towards where they want to take their music. Also highly devoted to family and church, Johnny and his wife Cindy have two children, Laura and Will and granddaughter Kendall and grandson Caden. He is a thirty-one year veteran with the NC Department of Transportation and he and his family reside in Mebane, NC.
A quiet man by nature, Phil Patterson lets his upright bass fiddle do the talking for him by holding down the bottom end and keeping the unit in time. His musical roots go back to the country rock sound where he played electric bass in several local bands. But when the bluegrass bug hit him, he went all out to learn the acoustic bass studying not only the techniques and musical importance of the instrument, but the history behind it, as well. His dedication to the music and the instrument has allowed him to become one of the most tasteful and solid bass players around. Also rooted in agriculture, Phil, along with his father and son, still operates the family farm. With the federal regulations now being imposed on NC’s cash crop, tobacco, Phil and his partners have ventured into another alternative style of farming greenhouse vegetables. Over the past couple of years, they have gained the reputation of raising “the best greenhouse tomatoes in NC!” His standards of hard work and dedication to family life also carries over to his music. By being committed to the “band sound”, he realizes that his role is the same as everyone else’s – not to stand out, but to blend in and support along with the others- a trait not commonly found in today’s music or society. Phil and his wife Linda have two children, Ryan and Emily; grandchildren Reece, Rylan, and Savanna; and live in Seminole, NC.