Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association's annual Fall Bluegrass Festival returns to the Ozarks for 37th year

Lori Amos
The Rolla Daily News

The Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass Association’s annual Bluegrass Festival returns for the 37th year. And the Ozarks will make the perfect backdrop for the fall event that will feature traditional bluegrass bands fans will surely remember. 

The outdoor festival Sept. 23 - Sept. 25 will have some of the best in bluegrass the state has to offer, including River Bend, with their soaring vocal harmonies, Stringed Union, the bluegrass gospel band that is no stranger to the Ozark scene, along with New Grass Attack, the Ozark Mountain Four and Greg Blake & Hometown.

The weekend event kicks off with Greg Blake & Hometown and Stringed Union performing Thursday and Friday, with River Bend, New Grass Attack and Ozark Mountain bringing their soaring vocal harmonies and bluegrass gospel to the stage throughout the weekend. 

Meet the five bands performing at this year’s festival: 

Stringed Union 

Stringed Union

Headlining the event is Stringed Union, a bluegrass and gospel band from the Ozarks. Bass player and lead singer Sharry Lovan grew up in a family band called The Murdy Family, where she learned to play a variety of instruments and sing harmony with her six brothers and sisters. Gene Collins, plays guitar and sings baritone and bass with the band, has had many years in bluegrass music with a history of playing and singing with the Drifters and is the son of the original Collins Brothers Bluegrass group from Siloam Springs. Singing, while playing with the banjo, Alan Strickland, grew up playing in his family band in the Ozarks and then performing all over the United States with his band First Impression for many years. Fans will also see newcomer on fiddle and mandolin, Matt Maydew. Maydew is no stranger to the Ozarks bluegrass scene, having been a member of many bands and on many instruments. Catch Stringed Union Thursday, Sept. 23, 7:15- 8:15 p.m., Friday, Sept. 24 9:45-10:45 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25 4-4:40 p.m. and 9:15-10 p.m.

Greg Blake & Hometown 

Greg Blake & Hometown

Although Greg Blake was born and raised in the hills of West Virginia and will always be an Appalachian mountaineer through and through, most of his life has been spent living and working in Midwest cowtown of Kansas City - yes, on both sides of the state line.  He was a member of the Bluegrass Missourians for nearly 15 years, helping them  secure multiple awards from the Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America, as well as establishing himself as one of the Midwest’s premier vocalists and guitarists. After living in Colorado for a spell, fans were thrilled when Blake moved back and put together a band consisting of former Bluegrass Missourian band mates Grant Cochran and Brian McCarty, and one of Missouri’s finest scruggs-style banjo players Todd Davis. This is a Midwest band with a traditional, Midwest flavor. Blake has been nominated twice for Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America’s male vocalist of the year. He has received five awards as guitarist of the year and nine nominations and a Kansas State flatpicking championship to boot. Tune into Greg Blake & Hometown Thursday, Sept. 23 from 8:30-9:30 p.m. and Friday, Sept. 24, 7:15-8:15 p.m.

River Bend

Riverbend

River Bend takes their name from an area between Missouri and Southern Illinois where the Mississippi River makes a sharp bend before heading south. With their soaring vocal harmonies and blazing instrumentation, band members, Aaron Muskopf, Andy Novara, Blake Korte, Kris Shewmake and Will Miskall pride themselves on the performance and preservation of traditional blue grass music. River Bend will perform Saturday 4:55 p.m. - 5:35 p.m. and 8:15 p.m. -9 p.m.

The Ozark Mountain Four

Ozark Mountain Four

The Ozark Mountain Four is a traditional bluegrass band with a lot of experience.  All members are southwest Missourians. Lyn and, Tonya, Coones, have been pickin’ together for 40 years. Lyn plays rhythm guitar for the band and sings most of the lead vocal. He also provides tenor and baritone vocals for the band. Tonya plays some of the classiest and most traditional bass you will ever hear.  Her clear tenor and occasional lead singing are an integral part of what’s best about the Ozark Mountain Four. Gil Turk is a talented multi-instrumentalist and plays mandolin for the group. Roger Matthews plays banjo and sings baritone along with occasional lead vocals. Members of the band have collectively received over 40 Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America awards and two Silver Dollar City Single Mic Contest trophies among them.  They are longtime well-known musicians in the Midwest region having played in the industry for decades. The Ozark Mountain Four will perform Friday, Sept. 24 8:30-9:30 p.m., Saturday, Sept. 25 2:15-2:55 p.m., and round out the festival Saturday night from 10:15-11 p.m.

New Grass Attack

New Grass Attack

Bass player Duke McIntosh, cut his teeth playing the Bluegrass Attack, a band that his dad had for years. Duke’s wife, Connie, on vocals often sang on stage with Dales’s band and their daughter Cheyenne joins her family on vocals and guitar. Ben Eldringhoff, on banjo, grew up playing bluegrass with his family band from an early age, and Randall Williams rounds out the group on dobro after growing up singing and playing in church. He also spent time in a family band singing bluegrass and bluegrass gospel. New Grass Attack is a group of fun-loving and music-loving second and third generation bluegrassers who promote the Heart of the Ozarks Bluegrass festival and bluegrass music in and around the Ozarks. Fans can see them on stage Saturday, Sept. 25 3:10-3:50 p.m. and 7:15-8 p.m.

The festival is held at HOBA Park, 1138 Bluegrass Lane in West Plains, just off Jan Howard Expressway and South Bypass 63. Turn south at the stoplight at Lanton Road between Favorite Fishing USA and Glass Sword Theater than to Bluegrass Lane, turn right and watch for signs.

No outside beverages or illegal drugs will be permitted at the festival. 

Ticket Information:

Tickets to the festival on Thursday will cost $5, on Friday $10, Saturday afternoon and night $10, but attendees can pay $15 to attend both shows. Weekend passes are $25. Children 12 and under get in free with an adult. 

There will be campgrounds with a stage, concessions, RV hookups and a shower house for families wanting to spend the weekend at the festival. Don’t forget to bring your lawn chairs. 

For more information, visit https://hobabluegrass.wixsite.com/mysite/september-2021-festival.