PIPLogoWe hope to see you Saturday, May 14, 2016 at Pickin’ In the Park, our free bluegrass festival held every Spring. For more information, click here to see this year’s festival flyer or contact High Lonesome Strings at 336.687.3131.

Pickin’ In the Park is FREE to the public and is held in a beautiful, family friendly setting at Hagan Stone Park in Pleasant Garden, NC. Each festival features great national, regional and local bands, instrument workshops, food and craft vendors on the grounds. High Lonesome Strings would like to thank all the Pickin’ In The Park sponsors and the High Lonesome Strings members and volunteers who help to make this wonderful event possible!

Sunday, April 17, 2016 @ 2:30 PM

Ragsdale Civic Center at Jamestown Town Hall
301 East Main Street
Jamestown, NC
(behind Town Hall and beside Fire Station)

Broadcast – A Man and His Dream

Broadcast - A Man and His Dream

A showing of Director Jordan Nance’s hour long documentary Broadcast – A Man and His Dream about Ralph Epperson and the early years of WPAQ radio plus music by the Gold Hill Bluegrass Jam Musicians

Longtime HLS member Jordan Nance has shown a love for music and history from an early age. Diagnosed with spastic quadriplegic cerebral palsy after a premature birth in October 1983, he has faced a multitude of challenges all his life. Using a computer to communicate and a wheelchair for mobility, Jordan’s determination and persistence has allowed him to overcome many of the limitations that others would view as handicaps.

In the fall of 1992, his love of “The Andy Griffith Show” took Jordan to Mount Airy, NC for Mayberry Days. It was there that for the first time he heard bluegrass and old time music on a stage provided by WPAQ radio. He soon became a faithful listener to WPAQ in his Reidsville, NC home. In 1995 he visited the station for the first time and met founder and owner, Ralph Epperson. The two became immediate friends. Over the years Jordan’s interest in the traditional string music and musicians of the Blue Ridge grew as he connected with the history of the station through the stories and songs that Ralph shared with his listeners. This interest drove Jordan to interview Ralph just six weeks before his death in 2006. Ralph’s memories only deepened Jordan’s desire to document on film other stories about the early years of WPAQ. For the next five years Jordan researched and interviewed some forty people including pioneer musicians Benton Flippen, L.W. Lambert, and Russell Easter who were involved in the station from its beginning in 1948 through the mid 1950s. With the help of Beth Crookham whom he had met on the set of “One Tree Hill” several years earlier, Jordan began the process of turning the footage into the film he desired. After nearly two years of post-production work, his vision and perseverance were realized in the completion of his documentary, “Broadcast: A Man and His Dream” in 2013. With the documentary’s premiere on UNC-TV in February 2015, Jordan’s dream of paying tribute to Ralph Epperson and the traditional string music and musicians they both love was fulfilled.

Jordan is eager to share his documentary with the HLS membership on April 17th. Having his friend Vivian Pennington Hopkins perform the music of her dad, pioneer WPAQ musician Ralph Pennington, will be a special treat for all in attendance.

Jordan Nance and Vivian Hopkins

Jordan Nance and Vivian Hopkins

From Vivian Hopkins:

I was much honored when contacted by Jordan Nance asking if I would be available to perform a few songs that were recorded in the early 50’s by The Church Brothers at WPAQ in Mt Airy, NC for Ralph Epperson. Myself and a few friends will perform several songs during the presentation of the documentary, Broadcast – A Man and His Dream at the April 17th monthly meeting of the High Lonesome Strings.

My father, Ralph Pennington, spent much of his younger years performing with The Church Brothers, Jim Hall and the Crazy Mountaineers, Roy Hall and the Blue Ridge Entertainers, Don Walker and His Blue Ridge Boys, L.W. Lambert and the Carolina Neighbors. During these years he recorded with The Church Brothers (Recorded at WPAQ) and L.W. Lambert and the Carolina Neighbors.

He was not only a talented musician and luthier; he was also a gifted songwriter, penning numerous songs for the Church Brothers as well as The Stanley Brothers and at least one very well-known song which became the first song recorded by Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys on their first Mercury Recording Session in Knoxville, TN in 1948. Dad was a humble man who never sought recognition or payment for his writings. He never realized that in that day how valuable the early recordings would become as the music industry grew through the years. He gladly gave his songs and music and delighted in hearing the success of the recordings, never asking for or receiving the credits as song writer. Among those songs are ‘Angel With Blue Eyes’, ‘When Jesus Calls Your Name’, Way Down In Ole Caroline’(Church Brothers), ‘I’d Rather Be Forgotten’ (Stanley Brothers), ‘Cabin in Caroline’ (Flatt & Scruggs), ‘I won’t Write Another Letter to You Darling’, The Battle Over In Korea’ (L.W. Lambert & The Carolina Neighbors).

My love of Traditional Old Time and Bluegrass Music and my commitment to doing my part to keep it alive and passing it on to the next generation is due to my dad and his comrades who taught me at an early age, that it’s ok to stay up all night and pick ‘til the roosters are crowing at dawn. Most folks will remember our twenty+ years at bluegrass festivals across the southeast as The Fifth String and Co. Today my husband Glenn (Hoppy) and I host the Montgomery General Store Friday Night Jam at Historic Gold Hill, NC which is now in its twelfth year.

I am bringing together a few friends who enjoyed picking with my dad and are more like family than friends. The music we perform on the 17th will be songs written by my dad, Ralph Pennington which was recorded by some of the best in the music industry. For the performance I will be joined by Jeff Russell on guitar and vocals, Jim Burris on mandolin and vocals, Randy Mauldin on banjo and vocals and Katie Springer on fiddle and myself on bass and vocals. We look forward to sharing the music from those early years that makes Jordan’s documentary so special.

In regards to our performance and the recognition of my dad’s music, I give much credit to the research and vision of Jordan Nance for producing a great documentary, ‘Broadcast-A Man and His Dream’; To Ben Niblock, Smithfield, NC, who spent months on end with my dad in the year preceding my dad’s death in 1992; To Gary Reid of Roanoke, VA, author of ‘The Music of the Stanley Brothers’ and ‘A Life of Sorrow – The Life and Times of Carter Stanley!’; To Ralph Stanley who gave me much information about my dad and Carter and their shared songwriting when my dad was performing with them early in their career; And to Matteo (Matt) Ringressi, Forli, Italy who is currently researching the music of The Church Brothers.

Sunday, March 20, 2015 @ 2:30 PM

Mt Hope United Church of Christ
2400 Mt Hope Church Road
Whitsett, NC

Bring instrument for jam sessions
Sponsored by City of Greensboro, City Arts


B G and Driving Grass

BG and Driving Grass

Bennie Gerner plays guitar and is the lead singer. Cindy Tucker plays banjo and sings harmony. Cindy plays with several other bands. Dub (Derwin) Jordan plays upright bass and sings harmony. Joel Maness plays mandolin and sings harmony. Joel was a member of the original Bass Mt. Boys. Hannah Maness, daughter of Natalie and Lil John Maness, plays the fiddle with the band whenever her schedule allows.

The band plays weekly at Claire Bridge Memory Care in Burlington and occasionally at various other venues, such as Browns Ole Opry in McLeansville. This band is a hard-driving, traditional bluegrass band. While Dub and Bennie have been playing together for at least 10 years, the present unit has been together for approximately 5 years. They especially enjoy jamming at High Lonesome Strings and various festivals.

The January 2016 meeting was postponed due to bad weather but that means that you can enjoy fellowship and good bluegrass music twice in the month February 2016 at two different great venues!

Join us on February 21, 2016 at Conrad Memorial Baptist Church in High Point, NC with music provided by Chosen Road and the Back Creek Bluegrass Boys. Join us again on February 28, 2016 at Stonefield Cellars Winery in Stokesdale, NC with music provided by The Robertson Boys.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday, February 28, 2016 @ 2:30 PM

Stonefield Cellars Winery
8220 NC Hwy 68 N
Stokesdale NC

Bring instrument for jam sessions


The Robertson Boys

Chosen Road

Meet The Robertson Boys… Bluegrass is the American tradition of stories to tell, relived in motion to music. It’s origin comes from Celtic Folk roots popularized by the legendary Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs of The Foggy Mountain Boys in 1948. It’s such a versatile genre with influences of everything from gospel, traditional country, jazz, and even infused with rock. In today’s mainstream, Bluegrass appeal is rising and fast becoming a favorite of genres across the country. Hence today’s Bluegrass on the local scene… The Robertson Boys has a very distinctive style and their talents posses a vast imaginative eclectic selections of genre from the traditional favorites to today’s contemporary hits. A story set to music representing everyone of all generations. What sets them apart from many bluegrass bands of today? Their five member band is known for their incredible talent in harmonizing as all members are gifted vocalists as well as versatile in their instrumental skills.

David Robertson, Mandolin. David also plays keyboards, guitar and trombone. David was in the UNC-G Jazz Band for 3 years playing bass trombone. David sings lead and is the musical director of the band. He plays a Richard Sneldson “Katy” mandolin and is currently using Martin coated strings. His pick of choice is Blue Chip.

Jack Robertson, Banjo. He also plays guitar, bass, penny whistle, bagpipes and trombone. Jack was in the UNC-Chapel Hill, Wind Ensemble his freshman year playing trombone. Jack also sings lead and has a great bass voice. His banjo is a Rich and Taylor, Carolina and plays Martin medium strings.

Rick Robertson, rhythm guitar. Rick is Jack and David’s dad. Rick has played guitar since 1965 in Rock and Gospel bands but has always loved Bluegrass and old country music. Rick sings lead and harmony and is the band manager. He plays Martin guitars strung with John Pearse Phosphor Bronze strings. Rick uses TS picks and also Blue Chip picks.

Don Cruthis, guitar and bass player. Don has been playing guitar since the mid-60’s, playing Rock in local NC bands. About 12 years ago he joined The Robertson Boys as their first bass player. Three year ago, Don moved to rhythm guitar where he could sing more lead vocals. Besides singing lead, Don has a great knack for hitting the right harmony. He plays Taylor and Santa Cruz guitars. His strings of choice are D’Addario lights and uses various picks.

Philip Swing, bass. Philip has been playing bass in Rock and Country Bands for over 40 years. He decided to move to Bluegrass about 3 years ago and joined The Robertson Boys at about that time. Philip sings lead and the high part harmonies. Philip also plays guitar and banjo. He plays mostly a 6 string Schecter Bass but has other cool basses and has recently starting playing an Engelhardt upright bass.

Ashlyn Nelson, fiddle and vocalist. Ashlyn is a student at Salem College majoring in History. She has sung in accapella groups at Salem College and has a beautiful voice. She played violin in high school and decided to take the love of violin to bluegrass music. Ashlyn started working with the band in 2015, working on developing her style of bluegrass fiddle. She officially joined the band last November. Ashlyn plays a violin made by an unknown builder.


Sunday, February 21, 2016 @ 2:30 PM

Conrad Memorial Baptist Church 
1920 N Centennial St
High Point NC
(Call 336.884.5717 for directions)

Bring instrument for jam sessions


Chosen Road

Chosen Road


Chosen Road was established in July of 2009 when a group of friends came together to do more than just make music. Being raised in the mountains of southern West Virginia and western North Carolina each member has developed a profound love for the music they were raised on. From this love has stemmed a sense of responsibility to share bluegrass music with potential fans around the world. Traveling full-time, Chosen Road presents their brand of bluegrass music in churches, fairs, festivals, and other venues over two hundred and fifty times per year. Their approach to sharing the music they love is quite different than most as they often play in venues overlooked by many bluegrass bands. In turn, they are provided an opportunity to present this sacred music to thousands of potential fans each year. They have never been concerned with the politics of “the music business.” From day one, their desire has been to share the music they love in a way that can make a positive impact in the lives of the listeners. Dedication to this purpose has facilitated a packed tour schedule taking the group from the mountains they love to Bristol, Bakersfield, Baltimore, Europe, and all points in between. Over the years Chosen Road has honed a sound that is quite unique. That sound is featured in their brand new release on Poor Mountain Records entitled, “Love’s Purest Light.”

Jonathan Buckner on guitar took a serious interest in music at the age of 16 in the mountains of West Virginia. It was at that time that he started his first bluegrass band. After graduating high school Jonathan attended Concord University where he obtained a BS in Business Administration with an emphasis in Management and Marketing. After traveling for two years with a popular southern gospel group, Jonathan founded Chosen Road in 2009.

Zachary Alvis grew up singing gospel music in his home church in the mountains of West Virginia. He has been dragging a mandolin around since he was old enough to hold one. At the age of 10 he received a music scholarship from the Appalachian Highlands Music Association. At 12 years old he began traveling as a fulltime
member of Chosen Road. Zach is now an accomplished vocalist and a versatile musician. Most of all he loves preserving the tradition of Bluegrass and Old-Time Music.

Brandy Miller is a 17 year old bluegrass banjo musician from the mountains of North Carolina. Brandy found her talent for the banjo at the early age of 6, playing with her dad and taking lessons from two-time national banjo champion, Steve Lewis. She has performed with bands such as IIIrd Tyme Out, Balsam Range, J.D. Crowe and more. Brandy became a Daughter of Bluegrass in 2012 and recorded on the Daughters of Bluegrass CD project in Nashville, TN. She had the honor in 2013 to be a part of the IBMA Bluegrass All-Star Band. Thanks to the help of the Bluegrass Heritage Foundation and Steve Huber, Brandy received a Huber banjo endorsement. Brandy is looking forward to a prosperous future in music and in furthering her education as well.

Jonathan Campbell was born in the mountains of Western North Carolina where he was surrounded by bluegrass, gospel, and old-time music. While he is quite the accomplished guitar and banjo player, his instrument of choice is the upright bass. Through the years Jonathan has shared the stage with many bluegrass greats. He now makes his home in Mountain City, TN where he also runs his studio, The Tone Room. Jonathan founded Chosen Road in 2009 with Jonathan Buckner.

The band hosted the Gospel Bluegrass Showcase for two nights during IBMA this past October. Check them out on Facebook and their web page: http://www.chosenroadmusic.com/
Chosen Road will share in the service at Conrad Memorial Baptist that morning at 10:45 am

The Back Creek Bluegrass Boys will 0pen the show

Back Creek Boys

Saturday, December 12, 2015  6:00 PM

Mt. Hope United Church of Christ
2400 Mt. Hope Church Rd
Whitsett, NC

There will be a Pot Luck Supper. Please bring a side dish and an unwrapped door prize. Don’t forget your instrument for jamming!


Bethesda Bluegrass

Bethesda Bluegrass

Bethesda Bluegrass started in 2005 in Durham, North Carolina as a family group called the Bethesda Bluegrass Boys, consisting of brothers Caleb, Jackson, and Connor Hagwood and father Mark on guitar.  The boys took music lessons together and played and sang for church functions, birthday celebrations and retirement communities for several years. They continued to expand their horizons to small stages, radio stations and venues around North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.   They officially changed their band name in 2010 to Bethesda Bluegrass to more accurately reflect the makeup of the band.  The name “Bethesda” comes from a tight-knit community in Durham, North Carolina, where the Hagwood family resides.

They’ve won top awards at the NC State Fair, NC AgFest, Lil’ John’s Mountain Music Festival, and numerous fiddlers’ conventions.  2013 was a very good year for Bethesda Bluegrass, winning 1st place at the 2013 NC State Fair Folk Festival Senior Band Competition and taking 2nd place in the Adult Bluegrass Band Competition at Hoppin’ John’s Fiddler’s Convention. Each band member has succeeded at bringing home a few wins for individual performances throughout the years.

Caleb, the oldest of the Hagwood brothers, plays bass and sings lead for the band.  He is currently employed at a funeral home in Durham as he pursues his academics in Funeral Service at Fayetteville Technical Community College. Jackson plays banjo and is the lead singer.  He works in the auto salvage business as he is completing his schooling at Durham Technical Community College in the Automotive program.  He is working on restoring a 1962 Chevy II.  Playing mandolin for the band is the youngest brother, Connor.  He works hard building fences for a family-owned business in the area.  He plans to enroll at Durham Technical Community College next semester and pursue Business.



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