Kingsport native to perform at 2021 ‘Covered Bridge Days’

Published 4:42 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

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Derek Deakins is returning to his roots as he performs at the Covered Bridge Festival this weekend in Elizabethton.

Deakins, who grew up in Kingsport, is part of Merle Monroe, the bluegrass/country music band that will close out the performances on Friday.  Daniel Grindstaff, also native to the region, is another member of the band.

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“I have been playing the fiddle since I was 5 years old,” said Deakins. “I graduated from Sullivan South High School and moved to Nashville afterwards in 2001. I studied Commercial Music at Belmont University, and while I was there I began playing on the road with the Osborne Brothers.

“I played with the Osborne Brothers at the Grand Ole Opry, which is where I met Daniel (Grindstaff) who was playing with Jim & Jesse & The Virginia Boys. We would see each other at the Opry on the weekends, and we began to form a friendship.”

The story does not end there, as Deakins was able to play with many other performers before ending up with Merle Monroe. “After a while I left the bluegrass scene and began to get into country music, where I played with Blake Shelton in 2005 and on the road with him and Rascal Flatts until 2009.

“After that, I got out of the music world until 2018 when Daniel told me he was wanting to start a band named after Merle Haggard and Bill Monroe named Merle Monroe. I told him it sounded like a ton of fun, and we went on from there.”

Because Deakins grew up so close to Elizabethton, he said playing during the festival will be special to both he and Grindstaff. “It is going to be a very neat experience for Daniel and I because we haven’t ever played together in our hometown areas before,” Deakins said. “It is going to be great to get to see all of my family and all of the friends that I have not been able to see for quite some time.”

Merle Monroe will kick things off at 8 p.m. at the Main Stage at Covered Bridge Park.