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Published: Friday, 1/9/2004

New, veteran acts at bluegrass festival

BY BRIAN DUGGER
BLADE STAFF WRITER
David Parmley & Continental Divide David Parmley & Continental Divide
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In 2001, the soundtrack to O Brother Where Art Thou?" won multiple Grammys, sold more than 6 million copies, and renewed interest in a uniquely American art form - bluegrass music.

In the two years since, artists have been able to build on that momentum. A 2003 survey by Simmons Market Research showed that 8 million American adults purchased a bluegrass album in 2003, a 104 percent increase over 2000.

"The first time a lot of people are exposed to it, we can't knock them out of the building. It's growing. I can see it," says Toledoan Robert White, the lead singer and guitar player for Candy Mountain Express. Music, particularly bluegrass, country, and gospel, has been in his blood since his mother bought him a Gene Autry guitar when he was 10. For the last 14 years, his passion has been showing off his type of music to the region at the Bluegrass in Super Class show.

This year, the annual bluegrass festival, hosted by White and his wife, Pina, will be in the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg. The music will begin today at 11 a.m. and last until midnight. Tomorrow will follow the same schedule.

There will be 14 performances over two days, including shows from David Davis & The Warrior River Boys, The Sullivan Family, Lilly Mae & The Dixie Gospelairs, Marcus & Megan-The Mullins Family, David Parmley & Continental Divide, Dean Osborne & Eastbound, Robert White & Candy Mountain Express, Ernie Thacker & Route 23, Nitro Hill, Gary Brewer & The Kentucky Ramblers, and Bluegrass Mountaineers.

"These days everyone is mixing old country ballads into their bluegrass shows. You'll hear Hank Williams, George Jones - good songs you can't hear on the radio anymore,'' White says. "You're going to hear good gospel, good country, and good bluegrass."

Typically, bluegrass festivals are summer events. White's winter show offers a fix for those country and bluegrass fans dreaming of the summer months, and it allows White to book top acts because it's their slow time of the year. Up-and-coming group Dean Osborne & Eastbound will be performing, along with established acts like David Parmley & Continental Divide.

"I love to sing the wide range that bluegrass has. It can be anything from fast and upbeat to a slow ballad,'' Parmley, 44, says. He has been around music his entire life, and he agrees with White that bluegrass is in its heyday.

"Every time Hollywood uses it in a soundtrack for a movie, it gets a shot in the arm. Every little bit helps. It's really a good, fun, family oriented type of music that you can take a child or your grandmother to.''

The Bluegrass in Super Class Show will be at the Holiday Inn French Quarter in Perrysburg tonight and tomorrow. Music begins at 11 a.m. both days. Weekend tickets are $48 and $52 at the door. One-day admission is $26. Information: 419-726-5089.



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