A weekend of country and bluegrass bands and barbecue is on tap for the fourth annual Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Bluegrass Festival at Evans Towne Center Park.
The annual festival benefits the Joseph R. Pond Memorial Foundation. In addition to hours of bluegrass music features, there is a Kansas City Barbecue Society-sanctioned event with pit cookers from across the nation competing for $40,000 in prize money.
Other attractions include a petting zoo, pig races and a children’s playground.
One of the popular bands back for the festival this year is the Atlanta-based The Whiskey Gentry, scheduled to take the Lady Antebellum Pavilion stage at 6:30 p.m. Friday, May 24.
“This will be our fourth time at the festival,” said lead singer Lauren Staley Morrow in a recent telephone interview.
The band’s name comes from writer Hunter S. Thompson describing patrons of the Kentucky Derby as “the whiskey gentry” comprised of “a pretentious mix of booze, failed dreams and a terminal identity crisis.”
That doesn’t exactly apply to the Atlanta bluegrass group, whose dreams of show business success continue to get bigger each year.
The band provides a blend of bluegrass, country, punk rock and folk.
“We signed on with a booking agent at the beginning of this year that has been keeping us busy with a bunch of markets we’ve never been before,” Morrow said.
June alone will find the band performing in Georgia, Florida, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York and a popular barbecue place called Hill Country in Washington, D.C.
“These guys from Austin, Texas, have these barbecue restaurants in New York City and Washington, D.C., that are always packed,” Morrow said. “We played the one in New York, and it was awesome. So they invited us to come to their D.C. location.”
She also noted that the group’s critically praised CD Please Make Welcome “has been a really good springboard for us.”
The festival continues at noon Saturday, May 25, culminating in the headline performance at 9:35 p.m. of Trampled by Turtles.
Admission costs $15 for Friday, $20 for Saturday, and a weekend pass costs $30.
Tickets will be sold at the gate and also are available at A.B. Beverage locations in Evans and Aiken; Communigraphics in North Augusta; Fireside Outdoor Kitchens & Grills in Augusta; and online at www.banjobque.com.