Chamber: Billy Dean to headline Covered Bridge Celebration

Published 5:08 pm Thursday, March 22, 2018

Continuing a tradition of providing great entertainment for the community, the Elizabethton/Carter County Chamber of Commerce announced on Thursday morning that award-winning country music singer and songwriter Billy Dean will headline this year’s Covered Bridge Celebration.

Dean began playing in his father’s country band in 1972 at the age of 10 and in the early 1980s he made the move to Nashville to pursue a career as a singer/songwriter. Throughout his career, he has won numerous awards, including a Grammy in 1996 and multiple awards from the Academy of Country Music, BMI, CMT and TNN.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

While Dean is best known in the country music genre for his 11 top ten singles, five number one hits, and more than 4 million albums sold, his musical roots are entangled with folk, southern rock, bluegrass, and classic country.

Some of Dean’s well-known songs include Only Here For A Little While, Somewhere In My Broken Heart, Billy The Kid, and Let Them Be Little.

The concert by Dean will close out the three-day celebration on the stage at Covered Bridge Park. The festival will run from Thursday, June 7, through Saturday, June 9.

This year’s festival will also feature concerts on Thursday and Friday nights.

Taking the stage on Thursday evening will be Carson Peters & Iron Mountain. The local favorites have become a mainstay of the festival in recent years, kicking off the concert series.

Carson Peters started playing the fiddle at the ripe old age of 3 when his parents bought him a 1/8 size fiddle and began competing in fiddle competitions at four years old. Now at the age of 13, Peters is a seasoned performer with many national TV appearances as well as performances at the Grand Ol’ Opry and the historic Ryman Auditorium.

Peters and his band, Iron Mountain, entertain audiences performing old-time, bluegrass, and gospel music. The band consists of Carson’s father Jamie Peters, of Piney Flats, Eric Marshall and Ben Marshall of Mount Airy, N.C., and Austin Tate of Marion, Va.

Friday’s concert will feature Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, a performance the Chamber has been working to secure for the past few years.

With nearly 40 albums to their credit, Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver have multiple Grammy, Dove, ICM, IBMA, and SPBGMA Award nominations, and are seven-time winners of IBMA’s Vocal Group of the Year. Lawson was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame at the Ryman Auditorium in 2012.

“We’re very excited about the opportunity we have this year to bring in some great musicians and the phenomenal amount of talent that we will have on our Covered Bridge Stage,” Chamber Director Tonya Stevens said. “We are very excited to be able to provide this level of talent for our community, and we believe it will benefit our festival.”

Planning for the concerts featured at the annual festival typically gets underway at the conclusion of the previous festival, and sometimes before, according to Stevens.

“We are very blessed to have Daniel (Grindstaff) helping us because he knows this industry and has been a part of it,” Stevens said, adding for someone without knowledge of the industry navigating the process to book this level of talent can be difficult.

Grindstaff will also be taking the stage to perform as part of the Raybon-Grindstaff Band, which will perform on Saturday evening just before Billy Dean’s performance. Grindstaff is an accomplished musician who is considered to be among the elite of today’s banjo players. He was born and raised in Elizabethton but has traveled all over the United States and Canada with some of the best in bluegrass, acoustic, and country music.

The Raybon part of the Raybon-Grindstaff Band is Tim Raybon, who began his musical journey at the age of 11 with his dad and brothers (including Grammy Award-winning Marty) in their family band The American Bluegrass Experience. Later Tim and Marty teamed up as The Raybon Brothers.

In recent years, the entertainment focus for the festival has been directed at bringing in big-name performers that are widely recognized, a move which Stevens said has paid off for the event.

“We are becoming well known for this festival outside of our community,” Stevens said. “The larger the name, the easier it is to draw in people from outside our community, which is really important for tourism.”

“This entertainment draws in new vendors as well because they see that name and know the crowd will be there,” she added.