The White River Folk and Bluegrass Club will hold its annual Bluegrass Festival this Saturday at Shadyside Park. The club, organized in the 1960s, is bringing eight local bands to the stage to perform free of charge, but people are encouraged to bring food items to donate.

“We are having a free festival and wanted to give back to the community in some manner. This is our first year of doing food donations, we’ll see how it works,” said Dennis Niccum, club president.

Each band performing has at least one member involved in the club and most bands have a dedicated following of local listeners. Niccum is a member of the B.G. Express and said he plays two or three times per week, so the band has a pretty good following. Niccum is expecting a good-sized crowd with all the bands, their fans, club members, and families out to hear great music.

Melody and style are definitive features of bluegrass, but a more distinct identifier are the instruments. According to Niccum, instruments in a bluegrass band include a six-string acoustic guitar, mandolin, banjo, upright bass or electric bass, fiddle and dobro.

“All instruments are acoustic, except if there is someone who plays electric bass. It is actually written in the by-laws of the club; it specifically says all instruments must be acoustic, except the electric bass,” said Niccum, who plays the electric bass.

Big Joe’s concessions and the Scoop Shop will be on hand to keep stomachs full. A nearby playground area makes it an event for all ages. Remember to bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on.

Though there will be a band on stage throughout the day, everyone is invited to participate in jamming sessions. Even people who are not in a band can bring their instruments and join in.

“It will mostly be bluegrass, but there will also be country songs and old westerns,” Niccum said. “It will be a fun day for musicians.”

What: Free bluegrass festival

Who: White River Folk and Bluegrass Club

Where: Shadyside Park, Anderson

When: Saturday, July 29, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

How much: Free, but non-perishable food donations will be accepted to benefit a local food pantry.

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