If you go
› What: Nightfall
› Where: Miller Plaza, 850 Market St.
› When: 7 p.m. New Grass Express, 8 p.m. Jacob Jolliff Band, Friday, May 17
› Admission: Free
› For more information: www.nightfallchattanooga.com
Bluegrass will ring through Miller Plaza all this weekend as two bluegrass events are scheduled in the downtown venue beginning with Nightfall on Friday night, May 17, featuring the Jacob Jolliff Band. Opening the free summer concert series will be New Grass Express at 7 p.m.
Born into a musical family, Jacob Jolliff's dad got him started playing mandolin at age 7, requiring him to practice 10 minutes a day. After six months of practicing that minimal amount, something clicked and he started putting in several hours of practice every day.
Jolliff picked in a bluegrass gospel band with his father through high school, playing festivals and churches throughout the northwestern United States. They became a staple on Sunday morning gospel shows.
During that time, he had the opportunity to meet and play with some of his heroes, including Ronnie McCoury, David Grisman and Chris Thile.
When he was 18, Jolliff was awarded a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music in Boston. He studied under the late mandolin great John McGann. Under his supervision, the young musician spent many six-hour practice days working on a variety of styles from bluegrass to jazz to Celtic music.
Bluegrass in the Park
A second free night of bluegrass music is set for Saturday, May 18, when Bluegrass in the Park is held in Miller Park from 4 to 9:30 p.m.
The family-friendly event is open to the community as well as athletes and their families in town for Ironman 70.3. Food trucks will be on-site.
The music begins with Caney Creek Company at 5 p.m. followed by Grandview Mountain Pickers at 7 p.m. and the New Dismembered Tenesseans at 8 p.m.
The event is sponsored by North Chattanooga resident Jim Johnson and by BikeTours.com, the company he founded here 15 years ago.
In 2008, during his sophomore year of college, he joined roots music band, Joy Kills Sorrow. The group toured extensively over the U.S., Canada and Europe, but Jolliff still managed to graduate in 2011.
In 2012, he won the National Mandolin Championship in Winfield, Kansas. He continued to tour with Joy Kills Sorrow through 2012. In 2015, he joined Yonder Mountain String Band, after having toured with them for several months.
The mandolin player started his own band in fall 2015 with longtime friend Alex Hargreaves on fiddle. The two had played together since middle school, both growing up in the Oregon bluegrass scene. Hargreaves is known as one of the best improvisational violinists in the world and has won several national fiddle competitions, including The Grand Masters Fiddle Championship and The National Oldtime Fiddlers' Contest. He is also a member of the Turtle Island String Quartet.
For the guitar slot, Jolliff called picking buddy Stash Wyslouch. In addition to being a prolific guitar player, he is also a versatile singer. He tours with his own band, The Stash Band, in addition to playing with Molsky's Mountain Drifters.
Ironically, bass player Jeff Picker grew up down the street from Jolliff and Hargreaves in Oregon, but they didn't meet until they were all living in New York City 10 years later. Picker has won multiple national jazz competitions. He currently tours with Sarah Jarosz.