Guy Clark

Guy Clark performing at the 2012 Blue Plum Festival in Johnson City, Tennessee.

Blue Plum Festival

Like a knocked-around prizefighter, Johnson City’s Blue Plum Festival stands upright and swinging.

Set to stage in downtown Johnson City, the Blue Plum Festival returns to its roots Friday, June 7 and Saturday, June 8. As in not-so-distant years past, it’s once again a free-of-charge festival. Neo-soul singer Devon Gilfillian headlines a stout lineup of music. He caps the weekend Saturday night. Horns-driven New Orleans Suspects headline Friday night’s offerings.

Birthed in 1999, the Blue Plum Festival earned a reputation for its free-though-impressive fare of live music. Past performers include Guy Clark, Darrell Scott and The Mavericks. A kaleidoscope of culture, downtown Johnson City percolates during Blue Plum to the aromas of rich food, the sights of joy abundant and the feel of community togetherness.

If You Go

» What: Blue Plum Festival

» Who: Devon Gilfillian, New Orleans Suspects, Scott Mulvahill, Roanoke, ONA, Empire Strikes Brass, Magnolia Boulevard, Vintage Pistol, Unspoken Tradition, Ed Snodderly, Kaitlyn Baker, Daytripper, The Green Fingers, etc.

» When: Friday, June 7, at 4 p.m. and Saturday, June 8, at 10 a.m.

» Where: Downtown Johnson City

Info: 423-797-6449

Jordan Allen & The Bellwethers

Ripe melodies and sweet harmonies enliven the indie folk styling of Jordan Allen & The Bellwethers.

From their swinging hometown of London, Kentucky, Allen &The Bellwethers embark upon Bristol Station Brews & Taproom in Bristol, Virginia, on Saturday, June 8. Think Avett Brothers meet The Steeldrivers. Twist-ties of music from seemingly opposing parts meet in their music.

Jordan Allen & The Bellwethers date to May 2013. Into a vat boiled aspects of rock’s Kings of Leon, Britain’s Beatles and the blue-eyed soul of Chris Stapleton. Out popped The Bellwethers as led by Allen. Latest album “Weary In Well Doing” brands them as a band for whom one category does not fit.

If You Go

» Who: Jordan Allen & The Bellwethers

» When: Saturday, June 8, at 7 p.m.

» Where: Bristol Station Brews & Taproom, 41 Piedmont Ave., Bristol, Va.

» Info: 276-608-1220

Rotting Plum Festival

When the nightly crowds dwindle during downtown Johnson City’s Blue Plum Festival, out come the wolves.

OK, not exactly wolves. However, the Rotting Plum Festival commences as a wild alternative to Blue Plum at 10 p.m. nightly from Friday, June 7, through Saturday, June 8, at The Hideaway in Johnson City. Ravages of rock from multiple perspectives supply punch to Rotting Plum.

The Great Smoky Mountains yielded Cutthroat Shamrock. Driven by punk rock fervor as applied to Celtic’s rowdier elements, the band epitomize Rotting Plum’s past. It’s not simply a walls-pounding festival; it’s a fun fest. Accentuated by Johnson City’s funk-rock Mind Modes as well as by honky-tonkin’ polar opposites in the Sammy Guns Band, Rotting Plum dusts convention. Instead, Rotting Plum reverberates as an octane-boosted night of merriment and music.

If You Go

» What: Rotting Plum Festival

» Who: Cutthroat Shamrock, Mind Modes, Us, If, Sammy Guns Band, Deadwood Drifters, and Leanna Eden

» When: Friday, June 7, at 10 p.m. through Saturday, June 8, at 10 p.m.

» Where: The Hideaway, 235 E. Main St., Johnson City

» Info: 423-926-3896

» Web, audio and video:

Music Notes

Make welcome another summer concert series. Blountville-based radio station’s Love 97.3 Summer Concert Series stages six times in six area locales. It began Thursday, May 16, with Austin French at Allandale Mansion in Kingsport.

A free series, the lineup continues Thursday, June 13, at Fellowship Park in Blountville with contemporary Christian singer-songwriter Josh Wilson. A native Texan, Wilson’s oft-dramatic hits include “I Refuse” and “Dream Small.” Staged every other week, Thursday, June 27 highlights Chris Cleveland’s Christian pop outfit, Stars Go Dim, at Founders Park in Johnson City.

Two weeks later on Thursday, July 11, Canadian multi-instrumentalist Dan Bremnes travels to the Elizabethton Covered Bridge in Elizabethton. He’s known for such Christian hits as “Wherever I Go” from last year and “Beautiful” from 2014.

Thursday, July 25, heralds the Bonner siblings Zac, Jesse, Jake and Morgan as Christian pop band Bonray at The Gathering Place Park in downtown Erwin. Longtime Christian singing star Russ Taff concludes the series on Thursday, Aug. 8 at the Market Pavilion in Abingdon. Longtime fans of Southern gospel music may recall Taff as a member of Bill Gaither’s longtime Gaither Vocal Band.

All shows begin at 6 p.m. with magic by Bristol’s Dave Vaught. Music begins at 7 p.m. For information, call 423-630-5683.

Bentonville, Arkansas’ Cameron Johnson delivers a blues-light special during this week’s free MP3 downloads. Rush to to find and download Johnson’s first of two new and spectacular EPs. He sings and writes like a Midwestern Bruce Springsteen. Songs including “Somebody’s Son” and “Stack Your Stones” champion blue collar folks in the midst of challenges.

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Tom Netherland is a freelance writer. He may be reached at

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