Fair offers eclectic mix of musical entertainment

Published 9:05 am Friday, July 1, 2022

The Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair is offering another spectacular lineup of musicians this year, each act full of talent and innovation at the Gatlinburg Convention Center in Gatlinburg, July 8-17.
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys keep a full and busy schedule, traveling across the United States and Europe in their restored Eagle tour bus. The Grammy-nominated group will be making a stop at the fair this summer.
“I think to a certain extent, everyone is just craving music that they can feel, and any music that feels real will reach any audience,” said C.J. Lewandowski, the group’s founder. “We want to put bluegrass right where it’s least expected.”
Lewandowski, who primarily plays the mandolin and sings, was working at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery and filling in to perform when the scheduled entertainment didn’t show. He was soon approached about forming his own band to play in a full-time slot.
He recruited Jereme Brown, who plays banjo, and Josh Rinkel, who plays guitar. Jasper Lorentzen was working in the distillery’s tasting room and became bassist. Laura Orshaw, an experienced fiddle player, joined the group in 2020.
The Po’ Ramblin’ Boys have continued to gain recognition and critical acclaim, including “Emerging Artist of the Year” at the 2018 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards.
Monroeville is a rock alternative bluegrass band that regularly explores folk and country music genres. The group is named after legendary bluegrass musician Bill Monroe, who once said, “I was determined to carve out a music of my own. I didn’t want to copy anybody.”
“I think what makes us so unique is we’ve all been influenced by bluegrass, but it’s not the only influence,” said band founder Matt Munsey, who fronts the Grammy-nominated band with wife Brittany.
Monroeville also features versatile vocalists and utility musicians McCoy Borg, Chevy Watson, Kyle Dillow, and Joe Stevens.
“I look for potential in people — I love giving them an opportunity to grow,” said Munsey, who refers to himself and his group as a “band of misfits.” “I’ve always been that kind of person who people underestimated.”
Based out of Gatlinburg, Monroeville has played regularly at Ole Smoky Moonshine Distillery since 2010. The band also stays busy performing at other area venues, such as Ole Red.
Munsey, who grew up going to the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair, is psyched to perform at the event. “We’re so excited — I’ve always wanted to play there,” he said. “I love seeing the craftsmen, the different talents. I love walking around and meeting the different vendors.”
Dennis Lee’s unique brand of comedy and music has been a hit at the fair for 14 years. Lee started out in the business as a street performer 43 years ago. Now performing comedy along with classic rock, classic country, and blues, he tours throughout Florida during the winter and spring and tours nationwide during the summer and fall.
“I’m very impromptu,” Lee said. “I love working the audience into my act — the audience can be just as entertaining.”
Born and raised in Tennessee, the “country boy” is excited to return to the Craftsmen’s Fair. “It’s a one-of-a-kind event. Nowhere else is like the Smoky Mountains — it’s an incredible atmosphere. I’ve had people come up to me from Washington, who said, ‘We saw you were going to be here!’”
Joining Lee is special musical guest Stephanie Ann, who sings and plays the Strad-a-fiddle. Lee calls her a “prolific entertainer” who has performed with Tony Bennett, Dionne Warwick, Smokey Robinson, and Marvin Hamlisch, as well as with country legend Bill Anderson at the Grand Ole Opry.
With such an incredible entertainment lineup, how could you miss it? We look forward to seeing you there! The Craftsmen’s Fair runs July 8-17. Musical performances included daily are at 12 and 3 p.m.

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