Louie Bluie Music and Arts Festival is free to the public thanks to dedicated volunteers and contributions from our generous sponsors and festival supporters like you.

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The festival seeks to highlight East Tennessee's great variety of music — something Howard Armstrong not only appreciated but fully embraced. He could often be heard singing German drinking songs in a bar right alongside jazz songs or old-time string music. We hope you will hear both music you know and love at the festival and perhaps music that you’ve never heard before!

Dom Flemons

1:30 - Sound Like Home Stage
4:15 - Louie Bluie Stage

Cofounder of the Grammy Award-winning Carolina Chocolate Drops, Dom Flemons is a musician, singer-songwriter and slam poet. As a solo artist, Dom carries on the songster tradition, mixing traditional music forms with a contemporary approach to create new sounds that will appeal to wider audiences. He began his career as a performer in the Arizona music scene, where he produced 25 albums for singer-songwriters and slam poets in Phoenix. Today, he tours throughout the United States and internationally as “The American Songster.” Dom, who has released two instructional DVDs through Stefan Grossman’s Guitar Workshop, has a podcast called American Songster Radio in conjunction with WUNC North Carolina Public Radio.

Carson Peters & Iron Mountain

1:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
started playing the fiddle at age 3 when his parents bought him a 1/8-size fiddle. By 4, he was playing in fiddle competitions and jamming at musical festivals. Now, the 12-year-old from Piney Flats, Tenn., is a seasoned performer who has played numerous venues with his band throughout the region: Bristol Rhythm & Roots Reunion, Dollywood’s Barbeque & Bluegrass, Asheville’s Bluegrass First Class, Song of the Mountains at the Lincoln Theatre in Marion, Va., the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Va., and Knoxville-based WDVX’s World Class Bluegrass concert series, to name a few. Carson has also played on NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “Little Big Shots” with Steve Harvey and has made multiple appearances on the Grand Ole Opry stage.

Roux du Bayou

3:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
Roux du Bayou
plays authentic Cajun, zydeco, swamp pop and Mardi Gras music. Led by Paul Gregoire on Cajun accordion, the band also includes Wade Bernard on guitar and bass, Jimmy C. Clark on fiddle, lead guitar and trumpet, and Jerry Prevost on drums. Born and raised in the small village of Dulac, La., Paul began playing music at age 12 in church and appeared as a guest with different bands. In 1993 he met Grand Ole Opry star Jimmy C. Newman and started subbing for Jimmy’s acclaimed accordionist, Bessyl Duhon. In 1997 he put together Roux du Bayou to combine his love of Cajun music and passion for his roots.

Jeff Barbra & Sarah Pirkle

2:15 - Skiffle Cafe Stage
Winners of the Chris Austin Songwriting Contest at the 2000 Merlefest, Jeff and Sarah are married musicians from Walland, Tenn. Their songs have been recorded by artists such as EmiSunshine, Rhonda Vincent, the Lonesome River Band, John Starling, Dale Ann Bradley, April Verch, Terri Hendrix & Lloyd Maines, Blue Moon Rising, Jay Clark, Mary Cogan, Gary Ferguson & Sally Love, Carrie Hassler, Eric Lewis & Andy Ratliff, Rickie Simpkins, Charlie Sizemore, Ernie Thacker, Laura Walker and Darrell Webb. “This music is pure & wonderful Americana … The mountains, and the people who make up their culture, are beatifically sculpted into words by Jeff and Sarah. Listen to life from their perspective. It’ll reach down and grab ya.”

Ron Collins & Circle of Friends

12:00 - Rickard Ridge Stage
Popular performers at Rickard Ridge BBQ, this acoustic ensemble headed by singer-guitarist Ron Collins plays classic country and Americana music.


2:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
Crawlspace is the latest musical incarnation to flow out of the life force of singer-harmonica player Michael “Crawdaddy” Crawley, a Detroit native who grew up listening to legendary crooners until his life was changed by seeing the Beatles on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” He got his first harmonica, from his grandmother, when he was 8 and started fronting bands in high school. Moving around from Detroit to Texas to California and finally to Knoxville, he played everything from rock to blues to Tropical Rock (including as TallDaddy with the legendary Tall Paul). His Knoxville collaborations have included Jenna and Her Cool Friends, Y’uns and Crawdaddy the Band.

Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail’s Tribute to the LaFollette Old Fiddler’s Convention

10:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
Launched in 1913, the LaFollette Old Fiddler’s Convention was perhaps the longest-running and largest event of its kind in the Southeast. At its peak, the convention boasted dozens of fiddlers and string bands from Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The event’s organizers were often forced to turn away many from the overflow crowd gathered at the old LaFollette High School auditorium. Though the annual event ended in 1940, East Tennessee continues to be home to several pre-WWII fiddle styles and offshoots. The Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail’s Music Heritage project continues to document the variety of fiddle music in this region, and showcase several master fiddlers and styles on stage.

God Sent

2:00 - Rickard Ridge Stage
Performers in the Southern Gospel tradition.

Kelle Jolly

12:00 - Skiffle Cafe Stage
Vocalist Kelle Jolly is one of East Tennessee’s most celebrated jazz musicians. She and her husband, saxophonist Will Boyd, were the 2015 MLK Art Award recipients in Knoxville. She is the founder of Ukesphere of Knoxville, a ukulele group for all ages. As an ambassador of jazz, she has traveled to Muroran, Japan, as Knoxville’s Sister City representative at various jazz festivals and events. Kelle is the host of WUOT 91.9 FM’s “Jazz Jam with Kelle Jolly,” an hour-long weekly show that celebrates great local, national and international singers of jazz. This is her second appearance at Louie Bluie.

Sean McCollough
and students from Elk Valley Elementary School

11:45 - Sounds Like Home Stage
For the past two years, Sean McCollough has performed at the festival with students from White Oak Elementary School in Campbell County. This year he will bring students from Elk Valley Elementary School to perform. McCollough, a seasoned musician, teaching artist, musicologist and host of Kidstuff on WDVX, has taught students throughout the region about the history of music in Appalachia and engaged them in performing songs. This year’s residency is supported by the Tennessee Arts Commission. Sean and the students will sing songs from this region (including some from the repertoire of Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong) while sharing some history of the region’s music and reflections on how Armstrong’s legacy fits into that history.

Jim Myers

1:15 - Skiffle Cafe Stage
Veteran Knoxville musician Jim Myers will bring his old-time, ragtime, original songs and bluesy bottleneck guitar to our stage. He recently released a long-overdue collection of songs called “Mr. Grocery’s Store.”

The John Myers Band

5:50 - Louie Bluie Stage
John Myers
has been entertaining audiences with charismatic performances since the 1950s – singing doo-wop with his brothers and Clifford Curry in the Five Pennies; recording on the Motown label with the Hearts of Stone; performing in front of thousands with the Harlem Revue … In the spirit of Louie Bluie, he’s as likely to croon a Hank Williams tune as belt out a soul standard. These days he performs with some of Knoxville’s finest folk, rock and Americana musicians: Maria Williams (vocals), Chris Durman (bass), Steve Corrigan (drums), Steve White (mandolin and guitar) and Sean McCollough (piano, guitar). A highlight of the band’s shows are the original numbers written by John and his wife, Pamela, who just happens to be the niece of Carl Martin (of Martin, Bogan and Armstrong).

Old Harp Singers of East Tennessee

11:00 - Skiffle Cafe Stage
This group of community singers is dedicated to keeping alive the tradition of old harp singing. Old harp singing is a communal style of singing of the shape-note tradition using M.L. & W.H. Swan’s book, “The New Harp of Columbia,” a manual of sacred songs first published in Knoxville in 1848. Old harp is related to the better-known sacred harp singing tradition and emerged from the singing school movement once widespread throughout New England and the South. This style of singing is not performance-based, nor is it typical of any choir or choral society. It is traditionally participatory gathering where people sing for enjoyment. The Old Harp Singers hold open sings on the second Sunday of each month at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville.

One World Circus

12:45 - Children's Parade
High upon their stilts, members of One World Circus will lead our children’s parade this year. Headed by Lissa McLeod and Jake Weinstein, the group has been creating circus and street theater with children and adults for 20 years. They are accordionists, stilt walkers, jugglers and clowns. They have made giant puppets for performances and workshops all over the world. They are arts educators, experienced in working with children and adults from 2 to 92 years old.

Red Shoes & Rosin

2:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
The core of Red Shoes & Rosin is made up of three talented women from Knoxville. Shawna Cyphers, Jessica Watson and Meade Armstrong play music that includes elements of folk, country, Americana and more. Their shows are characterized by beautiful vocal harmonies and stellar arrangements of their strong original and traditional songs. According to Steve Wildsmith of the (Maryville) Daily Times, “Red Shoes & Rosin filters Old Time tradition through feminine sensibilities. … The music is a delicate thing, lifted up on gossamer instrumentation rather than fast-and-furious picking, and the understated harmonies make the vocals all the more starkly breathtaking.”

Rickard’s Pickers

1:00 - Rickard Ridge Stage
Local musicians who perform regularly at Rickard Ridge BBQ at Cove Lake.

Sparky & Rhonda Rucker

12:00 - Louie Bluie Stage
Returning performers Sparky and Rhonda Rucker embody the heart and soul of the Louie Bluie Festival, continuing the tradition of combining multiple styles of music, tall tales, and history into an enthralling performance for all ages. Their repertoire includes old-time blues, slave songs, Appalachian music, spirituals, ballads, work songs, Civil War music, railroad songs, and a few of their own original compositions. During their 40-plus years of performing, they have appeared at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C. and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival as well as NPR’s On Point, A Prairie Home Companion, Mountain Stage and Morning Edition.

Square Dance with the Hellgrammites and caller Ruth Simmons

4:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
Made up of some of Knoxville’s best and most established old-time musicians, the Hellgrammites play high-energy square-dance tunes that will make you want to join in the fun (and we hope you will!). They perform regularly at the weekly square dance at the Laurel Theater in Knoxville. Those dances are often called by experienced caller Ruth Simmons, who will be joining them at the festival as well. Simmons, a talented old-time musician herself, is versed in calling for both experienced dancers and beginners. All dances will be taught before they are danced. So whether you have square danced before or not, this is a Louie Bluie experience you won’t want to miss.

Tennessee Sheiks

11:00 - Louie Bluie Stage
Led by longtime collaborators and well-known Knoxville musicians Nancy Brennan Strange and Don Cassell, the Tennessee Sheiks truly bring the music from the era of Louie Bluie to life. Nancy’s stellar, jazz-tinged vocals are supported by a top-notch cast of some of the area’s finest musicians – Don Cassell (mandolin), Don Wood (guitar), Ken Wood (percussion), Barry “Po” Hannah (guitar), Michael “Crawdaddy” Crawley (harmonica), and Bryn Davies (bass). The Sheiks’ music is perhaps best described as eclectic acoustic swing. They play jazz standards in the style of Django Reinhardt as well as original, folk, bluegrass and country tunes. Strange, who has played an important role in keeping Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong’s legacy alive, makes sure that their sets include some tunes from his repertoire.

Tennessee Stifflegs

3:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
The Tennessee Stifflegs are one of Knoxville’s premier country acts, playing old-time and western swing with a keen sense of showmanship and musical integrity. They are a high-energy string band featuring Frank Bronson on fiddle and vocals, Thomas McNair on guitar and vocals, Nathan Black on banjo and lap steel, and Tom Cook on upright bass.

The Walker Boys

3:00 - Rickard Ridge Stage
Playing traditional bluegrass, this Clinton, Tenn., band is a family band through and through. The group is made up of five brothers and their father – John (bass), Alex (guitar), Andrew (banjo, bass and guitar), Aaron (mandolin and guitar), Anthony (fiddle) and Ayden (learning guitar).