Bluegrass weekend: Area events focus on roots music acts

Bluegrass fans have two very different music events to choose from this weekend. If you want to devote a couple of days to watching multiple groups perform while canoeing and camping then you owe it to yourself to check out Canoegrass at Adventures on the Great Miami in Tipp City Friday through Sunday, Aug. 15 through 17. However, folks looking for a single evening of top-notch music can check out Sammy Adkins & the Sandy Hook Mountain Boys at the Fairborn Eagles on Saturday, Aug. 16.


“What makes Canoegrass different from a lot of other festivals in the area is that we’re next to the river, we’re in the river and we’re on the river throughout the weekend,” said Canoegrass founder Tom Helbig. “What better way to get people excited about the river than to give them those experiences. One of our stages is right on the river. People watch the music and hang out in the water on basically anything that floats: canoes, kayaks, tubes, rafts and chairs. We also do canoe jousting and we have a rope swing and giant slip and slide.

“This year we’re adding a freestyle rope swing contest, a slip and slide contest and giant squirt gun fight,” Helbig added. “It’s a little quirky. There will be a whole lot of tomfoolery. People are in the water all day and then at night the music moves to a stage on the land. That makes it really unique and people absolutely loved it last year. We also have the stuff of a traditional festival like music, camping and good food and good beverages. It’s like hanging out in the backyard with 500 of your best friends.”

This year’s Canoegrass lineup includes Woody Pines from Asheville, N.C. and local acts like Cinder Home, The Repeating Arms, Stillwater River Band and Blue Caboose. Music begins at 3:45 p.m. Friday and 10:30 a.m. Saturday.


Sammy Adkins had been leading his own bluegrass group for more than a decade when he was tapped to join musical luminary Ralph Stanley’s band in 1986. The Kentucky native sang lead vocal alongside Stanley for four years. Adkins received a crash course in working in a nationally touring band before taking all he’d learned and venturing back out on his own.

Since 1990, the singer-guitarist has led his own band, the Sandy Hook Mountain Boys, which took his name from Adkins’ hometown. The bluegrass act, which is rounded out by Jim Click (mandolin, tenor vocals), Jarrod Church (banjo), James Lowe (bass) and Mark Baker (lead guitar, baritone vocals), is currently performing regionally.

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