t dawg hootenanny
TDawg’s Back Porch Hootenanny feels more like a family reunion than a music festival. The concert and camping event, held twice a year at Cherokee Farms in LaFayette, Ga., has maintained an intimate vibe while attracting top Americana performers such as this spring’s headliner, Jim Lauderdale (host of Scenic City Roots).
Set for Friday and Saturday, April 5 and 6, the line-up also includes Chattanooga garage grass favorites Strung Like A Horse, renowned banjoist Rev. Jeff Mosier, folk-infused gypsy rockers The Ragbirds and roots-rock singer/songwriter Caroline Aiken.
Event organizer Thomas Helland, aka TDawg, carefully considers the cohesiveness of the artists when booking the event in order to encourage the late-night bonfire jam sessions that have become a Hootenanny hallmark.
“It’s really a blast,” Helland says. “You’ll hear people singing and jamming until sunrise. Most of the musicians end up camping and staying up all night and fans bring their instruments and participate. It’s picturesque out there under the stars.”
Helland was in the midst of finalizing the current festival line up when he went to see Jim Lauderdale and Buddy Miller in concert. “I saw the Buddy & Jim Show, and oh my God, they’re awesome,” Helland says. He spoke to longtime pal Lauderdale after the show and quickly booked the Grammy winner for the Hootenanny. “He’s definitely a special headliner and it gives the Hootenanny a nice boost, as far as artist name recognition.”
Cherokee Farms owner Smokey Caldwell encouraged Helland to check out the unique sounds of Strung Like A Horse after the band shot a music video on the property. In addition to respected headliners, Helland loves to bring rising acts to his events. “The Hootenanny is a great showcase opportunity for bands because it attracts enthusiastic music lovers,” he says.
Helland has been promoting music events throughout the Southeast for 15 years. His larger-scale Blue Ridge HarvestFest had an eight-year run at Cherokee Farms. A few regular Hootenanny-goers met at HarvestFest, got married and now bring their kids to the Hootenannys for a weekend of camping and music. Helland encourages family attendance by offering free admission to kids 12 and under, and a discount for ages 13 to 16.
Helland says he expects about 400 attendees, with fans arriving Friday evening to enjoy music as they set up camp in preparation for a full day of tunes starting at noon on Saturday.
TDawg’s Back Porch Hootenanny featuring Jim Lauderdale, Rev. Jeff Mosier, The Ragbirds, Strung Like A Horse, Caroline Aiken, Bibb City Ramblers, Scott Warren & The Booze Mountaineers
April 5-6, 2013 • Cherokee Farms • 2035 Old Mineral Springs Road • LaFayette, Ga. • tdawgpresents.com