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Newborn resident brings a little Blues
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I haven’t written about a featured artist in this space for quite some time, and I’m glad to bring that feature back now. This week, I’d like to cover a truly great group who puts out some of the most authentic bluegrass music you'll likely hear in our neck of the woods — The Maloy Brothers Band.

Featured Artist: The Maloy Brothers Bluegrass Band

The band was founded by two brothers, Steve and Allen Maloy. Steve plays the guitar and handles a good bit of the lead vocals in fine fashion, and Allen plays a really mean banjo and sings as well. In addition, joining the brothers is the one and only Dennis Fincher. A Newbornite who sings a really nice vocal, he is as good a harmonica, or "Blues Harp," player I've seen around these parts. He can really make that thing sing. Rounding out the group is Coley Cooper, mandolin player extraordinaire; David Thompson, who holds down the low end with a strong and thumping upright bass; and Doug Sherwood, because we all know you've got to have a fiddle in the band, and he throws in some high harmonies as well. The final product is just outstanding with great instrumentation and very impressive vocal harmonies.

In terms of influences, these guys listen to the real-deal stuff: the Stanleys, Bill Monroe, Flatt and Scruggs, Old Crowe Medicine Show and Nitty Gritty Dirt Band. You can hear those influences in their sound, and that's a good thing. With most of their shows, they play "ole-timey" style — one open mic in the middle of the state with them placed around it in a semi-circle. When it comes times for solo, that particular player will take a step up towards the mic while a couple of the others nearby will take a slight step back. That style, in and of itself, is kind a science and art form. For those who have never played in that format, it takes a little getting used to, but it's a lot of fun. I've had the privilege to play with these fellas on two different occasions, and it was truly a pleasure to do so.

You can learn more about these guys at their Facebook page: @themaloybrothersbluegrassband

Featured Entertainment

Rising Stars Singing Competition on Wednesday, Aug. 31 at 8 p.m. at Sycamore St. Pizzeria, 198 West Sycamore, Social Circle.

It's another edition of this exciting talent competition being put on by Sycamore St. Pizzeria and McKibben Music. The first time they did this turned into quite the event, as I'm told, and I think they're expecting ever more interest and excitement this time around. That makes sense because the first place winner is going to win $1,000. Yep, you read that right, a cool grand to the last artist standing. There will also be prizes for second and third place.

This will be a six-week competition. So if you're thinking about going for it, you'll need to have the next six Wednesday evenings available. The criteria are pretty simple: for weeks 1-5, the audience will vote to determine weekly standings; for the finale in week six, there will be a three-judge panel who selects the final winner.
This looks to be an exciting thing. You can sign up, in person only, at either Sycamore St. Pizzeria or McKibben Music. More info available online at either place's FB pages.

Featured Show

Sweet Harmony performs at the Rutledge Summer Concert Series on Friday, Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. in downtown Rutledge.

For the last few years, the city of Rutledge has been doing a Summer Concert Series at the park right in the heart of downtown. Folks can bring their own picnics and beverages and set up on the lawn, and the featured musical group sets up on the gazebo. It's a really cool thing, and one of the groups that I'm fortunate to play with, Sweet Harmony, is playing the final show of this year's series, marking the third year in a row that we've played it.

As usual the Rutledge folks had a great lineup of talents for this series as bands like The Apostles of Bluegrass and Swap Rabbit Railroad played, as well as artists like Macayla Cook, Andrew Black, and Caroline Aiken. The word has grown about this series as evidenced by it being covered by Georgia Magazine, and the fact that people from all over the state are coming to attend some of these shows.

Sweet Harmony, as I've mentioned a time or two in passing in this space, is an acoustic group that can be described as a blend of Americana, Folk, and Country. Key influences include Gillian Welch, John Prine, Lucinda Williams, and Patty Griffin. Our sound can be described as acoustic oriented, country-tinged melodic folk w/ smart, sparse arrangements utilizing vocal harmonies, guitar interplay, and strong songwriting. Comprised of members: Rebecca Bates (vocals, guitar & flute), Johnny Hamby (upright bass & vocals), Ann McCart (vocals and rhythm guitar), and Marshall McCart (lead guitar). Unfortunately we will be without our fifth member, Leeanne Blankenship, who sings and plays mandolin, as she'll be out of town.

This is always such a cool night. Ease on down Hwy 278 and join us. Learn more on FB at: @sweetharmonymusic and @RutledgeSummerConcertSeries

Odds and Ends:

- Open Mic Night at The Depot. Tuesday Aug. 30.
- Open Mic Night at The Listening Room at IBP. Wednesday. Aug. 31 and 7 p.m.
- UPANG live at the Sycamore. Friday Sept. 2 at 8 p.m.
- High Charity live at Amici Covington. Friday Sept. 2.
- Live music at the Mystic, every Thursday and Saturday
- Live music at The Social House, every Saturday
- Live music most weekends at The Depot, 5 O'clock Somewhere, Porterdale Bar & Grill