Virtual talent competition seeks video auditions

Country hit maker and Grand Ole Opry member Craig Morgan will share his music industry insights and experiences with the 2020 Path to Fame Virtual Talent Competition grand champion. {Photo Credit: Nate Griffin}

You’ve heard of talent competition shows like The Voice, American Idol, and America’s Got Talent right? What if we told you that the folks at Pigeon Forge did their very own version, Path to Fame, and that auditions will be coming to two towns less than an hour’s drive from Lynchburg?

Path to Fame 2020 will be the third consecutive year for the Tennessee-based talent scout … and this year due to COVID-19, there will be a virtual twist. In previous years, Path To Fame traveled with a team of talent scouts to various markets in the Southeast. To accommodate restrictions and venue closings due to COVID-19, the talent competition has been re-engineered to accommodate video auditions. 

“We know that performers were affected by the economic shutdown and operating restrictions necessary to combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Pigeon Forge Executive Director of Tourism Leon Downey. “Pigeon Forge’s theater community would like to help those performers, along with other talented folks, by bringing the Path To Fame Virtual Talent Competition online for 2020. We hope easy access to the competition will encourage performers to make a video and take advantage of this great career-building opportunity.”    

The grand champion will claim a prize package that includes tools to help launch the winner’s own path to fame, including a virtual career consultation with country star Craig Morgan. 

Anyone over the age of 18 who fits the search criteria can audition but officials have designated four hometown markets for this year’s auditions:  Asheville, North Carolina, Chattanooga, Tennessee, Huntsville, Alabama, and Atlanta, Georgia.

Contestants may showcase their talent in one of four categories: vocalist, instrumentalist, comedian and specialty act. Individuals and groups of five or fewer can may compete. All contestants must register and submit an audition video following the contest rules and regulations to be eligible to win.

Judges will select four finalists to represent each of the hometown markets. The 16 finalists will compete for the grand champion title and the prize package that includes 12 monthly consultations with a Nashville-based talent executive and a virtual meeting with Broken Bow Records country music star Craig Morgan. 

Morgan possess strong ties to Pigeon Forge. The Tennessee native and Grand Old Opry member served as master of ceremonies at the award-winning Country Tonite show before finding success with country hits like That’s What I Love About Sunday, Almost Home, and Redneck Yacht Club. Morgan will share his music industry insights and experiences with the 2020 Path to Fame Virtual Talent Competition grand champion.


“We’re thrilled to work with Craig Morgan this year in part because he also began his own ‘path to fame’ in Pigeon Forge,” said Downey added. “Given the success of Path to Fame Talent Competition over the past two years, we’re eager to discover more talent this year, and we hope the virtual nature of this year’s contest will encourage even more people to audition.”

The grand champion prize package is comprised of career-building tools, including a one-year mentorship with Nashville-based talent executive John Alexander who discovered Kelsea Ballerini and spent more than a decade at Great American Country television network. Alexander will assist in establishing consultations and industry meetings for the grand champion. Additionally, the winner will perform in Pigeon Forge during a complimentary return trip and receive assets and experiences to advance his or her career. 

Pigeon Forge helped launch the careers of Janelle Arthur, Carly Pearce, and Mandy Barnett. For more information and details to enter are available PFFame.com. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Lynchburg Music Fest announces Justin Moore as it’s final headliner

Igniter Productions announced Saturday that Big Machine Records performer Justin Moore will headline the Lynchburg Music Fest on Saturday. The three-day festival is planned for October 2-4. {Photo Provided}

LOCAL EVENTS — On Saturday, the Lynchburg Music Fest announced Justin Moore as the final of its headliners for the three-day music festival planned for October 2-4. Moore will headline of Saturday. Josh Turner will headline on Friday night and Kip Moore will headline on Sunday night.

Igniter Productions, the events promoter, announced months ago that the festival would expand to three days and move to a new venue in its second year. This year’s three-day festival will take place in “Music Hollow” a sprawling, rural farm located near Louse Creek Road in Mulberry.

Arkansas Native Justin Moore should be a familiar name to country music fans. He’s produced five studio albums and now performs under the umbrella of Toby Keith’s Big Machine Records. He’s charted 16 times since his self titled debut in 2009 including hits like “Small Town USA”, “If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away.” and “You Look Like I Need a Drink.”

He also won the Academy of Country Music Awards New Artist of the Year in 2014.

Moore plays to the rowdy kids with a good heart from a small town crowd and is a perfect fit for a music festival in the most famous small town in America.

Igniter has not announced the complete 2020 lineup but promises those details are coming soon. For more information, visit their social media pages. To buy tickets to this years event, visit the Lynchburg Music Fest website.

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Josh Turner headlines Friday night at Lynchburg Music Fest

Randy Travis, John Anderson, Johnny Cash, Vern Gosdin, and Hank Williams … if modern country singer Josh Turner were to create his only Mount Rushmore of Country Music, those would be the five faces on it.

When he performs on Friday, October 2 at the Lynchburg Music Fest at its new venue near the Moore County, Lincoln County line in Mulberry, you just might hear songs that contain bits and pieces of all five. Festival organizers recently announced Turner as their Friday night headliner for this year’s event.

Igniter Productions expanded the 2020 event to a three-day festival held on a sprawling Moore County farm just off Louse Creek Road. The new venue will not only allow for social distancing but also more camping opportunities. Other new features for this year’s festival include a songwriting tent, as well as Whiskey Row and Wine Circle, where attendees can taste some locally-produced whiskeys and wines from both Lynchburg and southern, middle Tennessee.

Lynchburg Music Fest organizers recently announced Josh Turner as their Friday night headliner.Kip Moore will headline on Sunday night. The full line up will be released this month. {Photo Provided}

“More than just the sum of its parts – music, whiskey, and camping – Lynchburg Music Fest has a unique element to differentiate it from ‘just another’ festival. It has a strong songwriter element to add to the experience, consisting of both up-and-coming and award-winning writers,” said Jonny Hill, owner of Igniter Productions and Lynchburg Music Fest. “We are grateful this one-of-a-kind event continues to grow and can’t wait to see where the road leads from here.”

Hill says the festival plans to announce the rest of its 2020 line up including the Saturday headliner in August. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit their website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is the only independently owned and operated newspaper in Lynchburg. We cover Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

7 Things To Do This Weekend

Saturday is the first day of summer and so it is with great excitement that The Lynchburg Times relaunches one of its favorite weekly features, Seven Things. We’ve searched hundreds of websites and social media page so you don’t have to. These are our seven favorite things happening in middle Tennessee this weekend. Enjoy and remember to maintain social distancing

1 | Adopt a Beehive at Tims Ford State Park — Did you know that Tims Ford State Park in Franklin County sells its own locally-produced honey? It’s true. Park officials recently installed two honeybee hives and locals can adopt either a single bee, a colony, or the complete hive. Learn more by clicking here.

2 | Dirty Dancing and Footloose at the Montana — Thursday is the last day to see a pair of iconic 80’s films at the local drive in. Dirty Dancing will begin at 8:30 p.m. on June 18 and Footloose will follow at 10:25 p.m. The Montana Drive In is located at 10251 Tullahoma Highway. To read our complete coverage on this event, click here.

3 | Free Screening of My Friend Karl — Did you know that Tullahoma boasts it’s very own documentary film maker? Tullahoma High School student and filmmaker Colin Shuran recently finished his first, feature-length documentary – a film title, My Friend Karl – and you can watch it for free, under the stars on Friday, June 19 around dusk at the South Jackson Civic Center. The film tells the story an unlikely friendship through the lens of mental illness, homelessness, and advocacy. It’s a great teaching film for all ages.

4 | DJ Dusty at the Hard Dock Cafe — Oh, hello grandmother? We’re not sure where this catch phrase came from exactly but if you are from around here you know exactly who it belongs to. He’s a Lynchburg Elementary School teacher, a Jack Daniel’s tour guide, and a one-of-a-kind personality. He also happens to be a fabulous DJ who will keep you smiling and dancing all night. He’ll be at the Hard Dock Cafe at Tims Ford Marina beginning at 6 PM on Saturday.

5 | Hike to Horsepound Falls — Saturday marks the first day of summer and the perfect day for a hike. South Cumberland State Park officials plan an organized hike to Horsepound Falls on Saturday, June 20. You’ll experience two falls, a creek, and maybe if you are lucky the tailend of the spring wildflowers. Read our complete coverage by clicking here.

6 | Watrace Summer Concert Series — Live music outside by the historic railroad tracks? Yes please. On Saturday, June 19 head into this charming, historic railroad town for the Wartrace MusicFest Summer Concert series. It happens every third Saturday at 6 p.m. and features live music, shopping, craft beer and pizza from the Iron Pizzeria. Saturday’s line up includes Goodbye June, Kiss Kiss Bang, The Blue Trees, The Cold Stares, Sweet Fever, and Fred Reilly.

7 | Acoustic Jam at Tims Ford State Park — Some nights you’re a picker and other nights you’re a grinner. On Saturday, June 20 you can be either at the All Acoustic Open Jam Night hosted by David Watson Music. The music starts at 5: 30 p.m. at the state park’s Recreation Building and it’s open to musicians of all levels and abilities. To learn more, click here.

Music legend and Lynchburg resident Little Richard dies at 87

Written by Tabitha Evans Moore, Editor

“I met him coming out of the post office in 2009,” said local Chuck Clark. This is the photo he took that day.

Founding father of rock and roll, R&B legend, Hall of Fame member, contemporary of Elvis, influencer of Prince and the Beatles, and sometime resident of Lynchburg, Richard Wayne Penniman, or as most knew him, Little Richard, passed away in his sleep on Saturday in Tullahoma. He was 87 years old.

He was born in Macon, Georgia to Bud and Leva Mae Penniman as the third of 12 children. His daddy was a church deacon, a bootlegger, and a club owner planting in his son the seeds of God, and sin, and music that he nurtured at different points throughout his life.

Born with a right leg that was slightly shorter than his left, Little Richard literally sashayed both on the stage and through life. His distinctive gait, pompadour wigs, pancake make-up, and flamboyant clothes became his signature style … one that many tried to emulate.

Jimi Hendrix once famously said he wanted to do with his guitar what Little Richard did with his voice.

It ends where it all began

It’s fitting that his life ended where his career as a musician began … Tennessee. In the 1950’s Little Richard made a name for himself in the R&B nightclubs on Jefferson Street in Nashville. He signed his first record deal with RCA in 1951 but it was the song “Tutti Frutti” that launched his 65 year career in 1956. Little Richard often recounted how he heard himself for the first on WLAC, a 50,000 watt Nashville radio station.

Sometime in mid-2000’s, Little Richard moved back to Tennessee and purchased a 5,900 square foot house and 13.9 acres off Highway 50 in Moore County for his sister. From then until his death, he split time between Lynchburg and Nashville. The fact that Little Richard lived in a hotel penthouse suite near his Music City Walk of Fame Star was one of the worst kept secrets in Nashville.

Lynchburg remembers

Ask anyone from Lynchburg and they’ve probably got a Little Richard story. He showed up in public often in full wig and makeup but was always gracious, friendly, and approachable.

“I met him while working at Woodards,” says local Jonah Deal. “He didn’t get out … a couple of guys came to get his things. I waved through the window. He later sent in a little devotional book and a signed picture to me.”

Devotionals and Little Richard sightings went hand-in-hand. Almost anyone he spoke to got a “God bless you” and a devotional.

“The last time I saw him was at Woodard’s,” says Linda Sullenger. “He told me his hip was causing him a lot of pain and was going to have surgery on it. He was such a kind man. Always spoke and also gave me a devotional. I can see him now with a smile on his face.”

Another local, Shannon Williams, even got a big hug from him at a local restaurant.

“I smelled like his cologne for the rest of the day,” she says. “He was such a nice down-to-earth man.”

My own story adds a bit of humor to the mix. One afternoon as I headed to the Lynchburg Post Office, I saw Little Richard’s black Escalade pull up and his bodyguard jump out to retrieve the singer’s mail. It happened a lot, so I wasn’t fazed. I waved and smiled as I walked in front of the vehicle. He smiled and waved back. As I got almost all the way back to the newspaper office, I heard a, “Good golly Miss Molly … whooooo.” I jerked around, eyes wide, mouth open and Little Richard died laughing. Even his body guard cracked a smile. After that, anytime he rode past the newspaper office he honked and waved. It always made my day.

In recent years, Little Richard made it back to Lynchburg infrequently. Back pain and complications from hip surgery had confined him to a wheelchair since 2009. He didn’t like being photographed that way and often avoided the public eye.

One things for sure, Little Richard made an impression in a town that sees its fair share of famous faces … but not as a tourist. He was one of our own … as neighbor and friend … and he will certainly be missed. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Hamilton Brothers perform free concert at Motlow on Feb. 11

Tullahoma natives, the Hamilton Brothers and nephew, Isaac Eady, will perform a free concert on the Motlow Moore County campus on Feb. 11, at 12:30 p.m., in Eoff Hall, Powers Auditorium in celebration of Black History Month. The public is invited. {Photo Provided}

LOCAL NEWS — They say they always knew they wanted to make music in as many places as possible … and that’s exactly what they did.

To celebrate Black History Month, Motlow College will host The Hamilton Family in concert on Tuesday, February 11 at 12:30 p.m. in Eoff Hall at Powers Auditorium. The free concert will feature Tullahoma natives, the Hamilton Brothers and nephew, Issac Eady.

Hailed as celebrated musicians, the Hamilton Brothers, Walter “Hinkie,” Tyronne, and Tim, have traveled the world and performed with noted artists including Lalah Hathaway, Aaron Neville, the late B.B. King, After 7, Dr. Bobby Jones, Christiana Aguilera, Kelly Price, and others. Their music is an electric mix of gospel, jazz, R&B, and pop-funk, all blended and smoothly presented. Additionally, they have stepped into the role of producers, currently working with Kim Fleming and Winchester native and university student Ashley Brooks.

Issac Eady performs on piano
Issac Eady

Isaac Eady is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. In 2016 he moved to New Orleans, where he has been teaching and collaborating with world-class musicians. He has performed with well-known artists Jabo Starks, Nigel Hall, Rhiannon Giddens, Papa Mali, Russell Batiste, Jenifer Harswick, Stanton Moore, Warren Batiste, and Luther Dickinson. Born into a family with a deep tradition of music, Eady gravitated towards music early, playing the drums by age two. By age 14, he was playing the organ and directing the choir at church.

“To present Isaac and the Hamilton Brothers in concert is an honor for Motlow State as well as the community,” said Brenda Cannon, executive director of community relations at Motlow. “Bringing this family home is a celebration. The performance allows them to serve the community where they grew up and learned the craft that has taken them to new platforms. We invite the community to come and help us celebrate our very own.” •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated community newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

3 reasons to see Pearl Jam in Nashville on April 2

Pearl Jam will play Nashville for the first time in 17 years on April 2. Tickets go on sale this Friday at 10 a.m. {Photo Provided}

NASHVILLE — Pearl Jam will return to Music City on April 2 to play a show at Bridgestone Arena to support their new album, Gigaton. Tickets go on sale this Friday, January 24 at 10 a.m. Here are three reasons you should go:

1 | It’s been awhile since they’ve played in Nashville. The venue was then named the AmSouth Amphitheater … if that gives you any clue. It was way back in 2003. That’s 17 years ago. If you’ve been kicking yourself for missing their performance at the 2017 Bonnaroo, here’s your chance.

2 | They’ll play just 14 cities and this is their only performance in the South. The week before they’ll play Madison Square Garden in New York City. The week after they’ll head to St. Louis, Missouri … and that quite a drive. And it’s only kinda the South.

3 | They’re touring to support their much-anticipated new album, Gigaton, which will be released on March 27. It’s their eleventh studio album (their first since 2013’s Lighting Bolt).

For ticket information, visit the band’s website by clicking here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Shine On Series launches on Feb. 1

Michael Allen and Matt Dillon
Last year’s Shine On Series winners, Michael Allen (left) and Matt Dillon (right) earned spots at the 2019 Lynchburg Music Fest. {Photos Provided}

LOCAL NEWS | Music — Last year’s Shine On Series brought us artists like first place winner Michael Allen, and People’s Choice winner Matt Dillon. It also introduced us to acts like the Vending Machine Bandits, Sarah Pearson, and Logan Wheat. Since then, many of them have become regulars on Lynchburg live music scene – playing at Frontier Days, the Lynchburg Winery, and the Lynchburg Music Fest.

On February 1, Lynchburg’s own version of The Voice meets American Idol kicks off again as the third season of the Shine On Series returns to The Lynchburg Winery. It’s a singer, songwriter showcase in front of a live audience and radio audience. The event’s also hosted by Igniter Productions and utilized as a feeder competition for the Lynchburg Music Fest.

For musicians, prizes include cash, a possible music publishing contract, and a slot at this year’s Lynchburg Music Fest. All songs performed must be original music (no covers allowed). There a two song entry limit and the fee is $25 per song. To submit demos for consideration, click here.

For local music fans wishing to watch the show or reserve a table, individual tickets at $5 per person or $50 per table. Performances will take place on four Saturdays: February 1, March 7, April 4, and May 2. Performances take place from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, check out Igniter Production’s website or Facebook page. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

The Disco Biscuits will play The Caverns in May; tickets go on sale Friday

The Disco Biscuits brought their impressive light show to the Roxian Theatre in Pittsburgh last November. {Photo Provided}

GRUNDY COUNTY — The Caverns announced this week that the jam band, Disco Biscuit, will play at the underground venue on two nights, May 29-30. It’s a standing room only show and tickets will go on sale this Friday.

The bands been called the pioneers of “trancefusion” … which bridges the gap between electronic music and jam bands. They hail from Philadelphia, where the members meet at the University of Pennsylvania in 1995. They self-describe as a mix of psychedelic rock, electronic music, soul, blues, jazz and classical. Their also known for their impressive concert light shows, which should translate nicely at The Caverns. For ticket information, click here.

The Caverns is located in Grundy County at the base of the the Cumberland Plateau. The concert hall is located deep underground making it a bucket list sort of venue. It’s also the new home of Bluegrass Underground and located at 555 Charlie Roberts Road in Pelham. Click here to visit their website. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}

Dustin Lynch hosts album release party for “Tullahoma” on January 17

Dustin Lynch’s new album is intended to be a “tip of his hat” to his hometown. Marathon Music Works will host a album release party on January 17. {Cover Art Provided}

He’s a native from right down the road in Tullahoma, and his newest album celebrates the southern, middle Tennessee stomping grounds we all know. On January 17, his Tullahoma album release party will happen at Marathon Music Works in Nashville and as of press time, tickets were still available. Click here for details.

Critics have called the new album a ride down a two-lane road come to life and a musical self-portrait. He says every song, “points to something that happened to me or my close friends and family, and that’s really cool.”

Songs like Momma’s House, Dirt Road, Ridin’ Road, Little Town Livin’ … should all resonate with folks who are from around here. The album also features Lynch’s 2019 hit, Good Girl.

“I’m very proud of where I’m from,” Lynch says in a press release, “and proud of this record because it will hopefully make my hometown a little more famous than it already is.”

Lynch co-produced the album with his longtime friend and collaborator, Zach Crowell. He’ll launch a tour to support the album on January 30 with the first show in Detroit. For complete tour dates and locations, click here. •

{The Lynchburg Times is an independently owned and operated newspaper that publishes new stories every morning. Covering Metro Moore County government, Jack Daniel’s Distillery, Nearest Green Distillery, Tims Ford State Park, Motlow State Community College, Moore County High School, Moore County Middle School, Lynchburg Elementary, Raider Sports, plus regional and state news.}