Chattanooga Now Coke Ovens Bluegrass Festival (May 31-June 1)

Chattanooga Now Coke Ovens Bluegrass Festival (May 31-June 1)

May 30th, 2013 by Lisa Denton in Chattnow Music

Members of The Cumberland Band are, from left, Edward R. Brown (lead and harmony vocals, banjo, guitar, harmonica), Tiffany Rogers (lead and harmony vocals, guitar), Billy Gaston (lead and harmony vocals, guitar), Willard Hamilton (fiddle) and Preston Cates (bass).

Members of The Cumberland Band are, from left,...

Photo by Contributed Photo /Times Free Press.


What: Coke Ovens Bluegrass Festival

When: Music 6-10 p.m. Friday, May 31, and 1-10 p.m. Saturday, June 1; history programs 10 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Saturday (all times Central)

Where: Coke Ovens Park, Cherry Street, Dunlap, Tenn.

Admission: $3 Friday, $5 Saturday (suggested donation)

Phone: 423-949-3483



Coke Ovens Park is a half-mile west of downtown Dunlap, Tenn. If headed south through town on U.S. 127, turn right on Cherry Street at the only downtown traffic light. Cross over the railroad tracks and follow the signs.


(All times Central.)

Friday, May 31

At Amphitheater

• 6 p.m. Roy Harper & Friends

• 7 p.m. Fox Mountain Express

• 8 p.m. Timeline

• 9 p.m. The Cumberland Band

Saturday June 1

On Ray Brown Memorial Stage

• 10 a.m. Jess Young story

• 10:50 a.m. Trail of Tears history and hike

• 11:30 a.m. Cumberland Trail Musical Heritage Project

At Amphitheater

• 1 p.m. Little Mountain Bluegrass Band

• 2 p.m. Flemings

• 3 p.m. The Cumberland Band

• 4 p.m. Catoosa Canyon

• 5 p.m. Blackrock Station

• 6 p.m. Fredonia Bluegrass

• 7 p.m. Valley Grass

• 8 p.m. Cannon Creek

• 9 p.m. Banjo-Rama and guitar giveaway

This weekend's Coke Ovens Bluegrass Festival is a chance to hear music as old as the hills that surround the 62-acre Cove Ovens Park in Dunlap, Tenn. And if you want a little history, you can hear that, too.

This year, along with stage shows by 11 bands Friday and Saturday, May 31-June 1, three programs for early arrivals Saturday morning will highlight the site's significance on the Trail of Tears and the musical culture of the Sequatchie Valley.

The first, at 10 a.m. CDT, will focus on Jess Young (1883-1938), a champion fiddler who grew up in Whitwell, Tenn.

"His grandson and some of his other family will be here to share his story with us," says Ed Brown, president of the Sequatchie Valley Historical Association, which presents the annual festival and oversees the Coke Ovens Park Museum.

"Then Carson Camp, our local historian, will give a small talk on the Trail of Tears and lead a 15- to 20-minute hike," he says. "Then we're going to promote the Cumberland Trail and all the musicians that have come from this area."

An abbreviated schedule Friday night features four bands starting at 6 CDT. The Cumberland Band, the only group playing twice at the festival, will close out the evening at 9.

Music on Saturday begins at 1 p.m. (following the history programs) and lasts into the evening. The event ends with Banjo-Rama and a guitar giveaway. (Guests need not be present to win the guitar).

Brown, who sings and plays banjo, guitar and harmonica with The Cumberland Band, says Banjo-Rama gathers all the banjo players onstage and gives each "a chance to show off a little bit with one of their best tunes. Then we'll do several (numbers) together."

The drawing for the Martin D-1GT Dreadnought acoustic guitar costs $3 for one ticket, up to $20 for 12. The first 20 people who buy 12 tickets will receive a complimentary copy of The Cumberland Band's latest CD, "Bad Times and Big Machines." It contains (on a hidden track) Brown's original song "Chattanooga Train," second-place winner in the country/bluegrass division at the 2012 Alabama Songwriters Festival.

The Coke Ovens Park is open year-round for self-guided tours of the 268 beehive coke ovens, which were used in the early 1900s to convert mountain coal into industrial coke, a product used to smelt mine ore.

Contact staff writer Lisa Denton at or 423-757-6281.