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Music festivals turn up heat

By guest columnist R. Shaw Furlow

Music festivals turn up heat

July and August bring the hottest weather, and also the hottest entertainment of the year to our area. Yes, it’s time for Brookstock and The Overbrook Songwriters Festival.

Brookstock is July 23. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. at the Brookhaven Building. The Overbrook Songwriters Festival is August 5 and 6 at five Brookhaven venues.

Brookstock is Brookhaven’s famed rock festival that started as a class reunion and developed into a festival enjoyed by all. Brookstock XXI is this year. Don Jacobs, the father of Brookstock, has taken a back seat and turned the festival over to Tyler Bridge. Jacobs wanted to step away at year fifteen, but stayed on to help make a documentary film about the festival. Due to some health issues, he stepped away after year XX.

“Basically, we are keeping the same format that’s been followed for twenty years," Bridge told me. "We are still at the Brookhaven Building (formerly FEMA building) and all the old favorites are there. They include solo artist Mike J Case, Ricky Brown and The Laughter of Ruin, which includes three original members Bryan Batson, Danny Dickey and Ed Tree. It really does my heart good to see these guys get together each year and enjoy playing.”

Batson shared why he along with others return to Brookstock year after year:

“When Don Jacobs organized the first Brookstock, I never realized the impact that it would have on me and all the Brookstock musicians, “ he relates. “It brought back the music of our youth and inspired me stay in music. Brookstock has made my friendships with people stronger. Every time we all get together, I get the warm fuzzies.”

Batson and Tree have remained close friends through Brookstock. Batson, in fact, flew to California so Tree could produce his two albums.

“Bryan came out here to do some pre-production things and figured out he had some work to do," Tree recalls. "When he came back he was prepared. Bryan is an athlete, and approached it with that attitude. Most of his vocals were done in one take.”

One new wrinkle this year is the addition of the very popular band 4 Way Stop, which has become one of the biggest bands in the state after coming together at Co-Lin. It recently played at Hard Rock Cafe in New Orleans. Also on the bill are the Bridge Band and Ricky Brown, whose sets usually are fire.

Where Brookstock is “maximum rock and roll,” the Overbrook Songwriters Festival is the opposite. Twenty-eight songwriters from four states converge on downtown Brookhaven to entertain with their acoustic guitars and original songs.

The artists will be at Tortilla Soup, Betty’s Eat Shop, Magnolia Blues, Georgia Blue and Recess 101, all going at one time from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Betty’s also will host a 9 p.m. show on its deck. All the shows are free.

Tyler Bridge will host a Friday night show at Recess featuring Brookhaven artists. Brookhaven native Sam Mooney will headline a show on Saturday at 7 p.m. there. Ten bucks gets you in to see a super talented musician who is on his way to making big noise in Nashville.

It’s hot and getting hotter. Come out and enjoy these two festivals. I’ve encouraged you over the years to support the arts, but this month I'm asking you to do yourself a favor. Live music just hits like nothing else.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Shaw Furlow is a local composer, musician and arts promoter. He produces an internet-based video show -- From the Shadyside -- that spotlights area musical talent and is a consultant to school bands in the region. Bob Arnold is Editor of the Wesson News.


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