Each day will include opportunities for people to come and listen to music historically connected with Alabama.
Bob Taunton, coordinator for the event, said after attending similar music festivals in the mountains he wanted to bring one to Alabama. The event is a collaboration with Alabama State Council on the Arts.
“This area of Alabama is rich in musical heritage and we’ve kind of gotten away from it over the last several years because of pop music and recording music industries,” Taunton said. ”We wanted to do what we could to bring it back.”
Singing and dancing classes will be offered, as well as lessons with provided instruments such as the fiddle, harmonica, mondolin, ukulele, dulcimer and steel drum.
Other classes will teach Sacred Heart Christian singing, Negro spiritual singing and clogging. There will also be dance contests each evening.
It is $50 to take classes at the festival, and that price includes all of the weekend’s events. People are also welcome to come and just listen to the music.
Tickets for the weekend event not including classes cost $20. Attendees can also purchase a one-day package that includes classes, performances and jams for $25.
“There will be a lot of jamming on site where individuals meet up with each other and just start playing tunes on their own,” Taunton said.
Performing and teaching at the festival are Linda Smith, Ginny Cliett and Deby Libby, who comprise the dulcimer group T.N.T, or The Nutty Trio.
Smith said they formed in 2006 to share their love for the dulcimer, a stringed instrument native to the Appalachian region. Together they aim to teach younger generations how to play to keep traditions of the past alive.
“We’ll be team teaching a progressive series of beginner to novice level classes this year on Friday and Saturday,” Smith said. “We can have anyone playing the dulcimer by the end of the weekend.”
Smith said one of the good features of the Lee County Gathering Old Time Music Festival is its emphasis on teaching the instruments as well as playing them.
Joanna Vogt, freshman in early childhood education, said she appreciates the emphasis the festival places on introducing new people to the music from the area.
“I think that the music festival is a really great idea and a really good way of teaching the community about indigenous music,” Vogt said.
Taunton said he thinks it is important to reintroduce the music, songs and dances of historic Alabama to new generations.
“I have an idea what young kids are dancing to, but in my day it was the twist and stuff like that,” Taunton said. “But this, this is old fashioned dancing where you treat each other like gentlemen and ladies. I think new generations would love it.”
As an added incentive, Taunton said this festival will feature an unexpected guest after the playwright concert Friday.
“We also have a big surprise at the end of the concert Friday night, but I can’t divulge what that is, but it’s spectacular,” Taunton said. “It’s going to be a huge surprise.”