Jessica Blankenship is the owner and founder of Kentucky Country Music website. The Berea College graduate has been a music journalist and historian for over 20 years. She enjoys providing concert photography, reviews, historical articles, red carpet event coverage, and exclusive interviews of your favorite musicians. Jessica is proud to be a Kentucky Colonel and alumni of the FFA and 4-H Clubs. In 2018, she was named one of Laurel County’s Ten Under 40 Award Recipients. In 2019, she was a member of the Inaugural class of BRIGHT Kentucky as part of Leadership Kentucky. She has been featured on the Kentucky Music Preview podcast, Hollercast podcast, Overtones radio show, WFKY Nashville News Roundup, KET, and more. Beyond music, she enjoys traveling, helping her community, collecting gnomes, and Volkswagens.
When it comes to musical lineups for a festival, the Master Musicians Festival always exceeds expectations each year. For 2017, it is no exception with a very well rounded and respectful lineup. From national touring acts, to some of Kentucky’s top performers, 2017 will be one to look forward to.
Festival community stars Dawes, an Americana folk-rock band recently featured on the main stage at Bonnaroo and two sold-out shows at the famed Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, will headline the 24th Master Musicians Festival July 7-8, 2017, at Somerset Community College’s Festival Field. The two-day event is presented by Don Marshall Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram.
Dawes will be followed on Saturday night by MMF’s most requested band, Blackberry Smoke, a southern/country rock band from Atlanta, Georgia, whose 2016 album, “Like an Arrow,” landed at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Country and Americana/Folk charts. Blackberry Smoke has toured with country and rock greats such as the Zac Brown Band, Eric Church, ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
“We know our crowd is going to love Dawes’ folk-rock sound,” said Tiffany Bourne, MMF president. “And we are thrilled to be able to give our fans what they want with Blackberry Smoke — they’ve been our most requested band for several years.”
Friday night’s headliner brings a sound to the stage that best fits MMF’s vibe, Bourne said. The Old 97’s hail from Dallas, Texas, and are recognized as pioneers of the alternative-country movement during the mid to late 1990s along with bands such as Uncle Tupelo, the Drive-By Truckers and Whiskeytown. “This show is guaranteed to be fun and energetic, which fits exactly into what our crowd expects for MMF Friday night,” Bourne said.
The Old 97’s round out an evening of local, regional and international acts on Friday, including rising Americana/folk stars Roanoke from Nashville, Tennessee; and Saskatchewan, Canada’s Colter Wall, who was named the Top 10 Country Artist You Need to Know in 2016.
Oklahoma native and 23-year-old Parker Millsap takes the MMF stage Saturday, having wrapped up a banner year with a network television debut on CONAN, an invitation to play with Elton John at the Apple Music Festival, an Austin City Limits taping and an Americana Music Association nomination for Album of the Year. Other Saturday highlights include reggae-rock-dub band Roots of a Rebellion, Americana singer-songwriter Shannon McNalley and local banjoist Edsel Blevins, whom MMF will honor as its 2017 Master Musician.
Held annually on the second weekend in July, the Master Musicians Festival has been named Southeast Tourism Society’s Festival of the Year and the Governor’s Awards for the Arts Outstanding Community Arts Organization.
In addition to two days of eclectic, diverse music, the Master Musicians Festival offers meet-and-greet workshops hosted artisans and musicians, as well as a wide variety of art and food vendors. MMF also showcases juried artisans and craftsmen, and recognizes a Kentucky artist whose festival-themed work is auctioned and featured on merchandise.
Weekend passes are on sale now on the MMF website and through Eventbrite. MMF continues its tradition of being a family-oriented event, as children 12 and younger are admitted free.
For more information, be sure to check out www.mastermusiciansfestival.org.