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College Bluegrass Showcase features five bands, food trucks, family fun

Pellissippi State students in Hardin Valley Thunder, the college's bluegrass band, rehearse in 2023.
Some of the Pellissippi State students in Hardin Valley Thunder, the college’s bluegrass band, rehearse in 2023.

The East Tennessee Bluegrass Association and Pellissippi State Community College have teamed up to host an afternoon of free bluegrass on Saturday, April 13. 

The College Bluegrass Showcase will start at 11 a.m. at the college’s Strawberry Plains Campus, 7201 Strawberry Plains Pike, Knoxville. The outdoor show, which is free and open to the public, will feature Pellissippi State’s Hardin Valley Thunder as well as bluegrass bands from the University of Tennessee. 

This is the second year for the showcase, but its first year on the Strawberry Plains Campus, home of the college’s Appalachian Heritage Project. 

Assistant Professor Allison McKittrick, Strawberry Plains Campus Librarian, who oversees the Appalachian Heritage Project grant, said the event engages the community in the heritage of Appalachia in a unique way.  

“We are really excited about having this event at Strawberry Plains for so many reasons, not the least of which it gives our campus the opportunity to reach out to our community neighbors here in eastern Knox County with such a fun, family-friendly event that celebrates Appalachian music,” she said. 

The showcase will be held on an outdoor stage, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own chairs. Food trucks will be on hand, and there will be activities for children. 

Jonathan Maness, assistant professor of Audio Production Engineering at Pellissippi State, said the school has a rich tradition of incorporating bluegrass music into the curriculum, so the partnership makes sense.  

“Associate Professor Larry Vincent has fostered the traditional arts as Pellissippi State’s Music program coordinator since the inception of Hardin Valley Thunder” many years ago, Maness said.

“By moving the event to our Strawberry Plains Campus this year, we can connect the dots between our bluegrass ensemble and our Appalachian Heritage Project.” 

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