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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2018 Sponsors

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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!

Performance schedule

Armstrong Legacy Trio featuring Ralphe Armstrong

1:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
Like his father, Howard “Louie Bluie” Armstrong, Grammy-nominated bassist Ralphe Armstrong is an astonishing musical powerhouse. Ralphe began performing with his father by age 5. By age 13 he played with Smokey Robinson and the Miracles; by 16 he affiliated with Jean-Luc Ponty and Frank Zappa (which continued for many years). The original bassist in the Mahavishnu Orchestra with John MacLaughlin, Ralphe has performed and recorded with Aretha Franklin, James Carter, Sting, Roger Daltrey, Eminem, and many more artists in a wide variety of genres. Earlier this year, Ralphe was honored by his hometown and voted "Best Jazz Instrumentalist" at the Detroit Music Awards.

The trio's guitarist Ray Kamalay is a long-time professional musician who has shared the stage with many great performers, including Mark O'Connor, Doc Watson, Jethro Burns, Steve Goodman, Joel Mabus and Holly Near. Ray began performing with Howard and Ralphe in 1988 when the three of them formed the Howard Armstrong Trio.

Switching up violin and mandolin, John Reynolds is an old-time music whiz. Early on, as an ethnomusicology student at Kent State University, John was influenced by a number of traditional music masters including our own Howard Armstrong, whom John knew and performed with for decades.

Boogertown Gap

2:50 - Skiffle Café Stage
Keith and Ruth form the "core" of Boogertown Gap (BTG). They have been married since 1988 and began playing Old-time music together since their move back to their home in the Great Smoky Mountains. There they discovered their rich mountain heritage and the joys of keeping an old musical tradition preserved. Both Keith's and Ruth's family have a long history of family musicians that have played and sung this Old-time music here in East Tennessee and the Great Smoky Mountains.

Buffalo Fiasco

12:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
This Knoxville-based bluegrass band got its start the way many do: an ambitious player gathers her talented friends to make a record and the resulting creative energy overflows from the studio session onto the stage. That’s what happened to fiddler Evie Andrus after she made a double album under the banner of her solo project Barefoot Sanctuary. Colluding with cohorts Brad Hitch, Dave Rasnake and Camryn Cornett, Andrus brings her exuberant style to traditional bluegrass favorites and originals alike.


3:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
Knoxville's first salsa band features Will Boyd on sax and flute, Kevin Krapf on drums and timbales, Sam Adams on piano, Carlos Allavena on vocals and percussion, Dwight Hardin on congas, David Bivens on guitar and Kukuly Uriarte on vocals, percussion and guitar. A night full of spontaneity and fine musicianship, this group will make you swing to not only salsa but meregue, bachata, choro, bossa-nova and cumbia as well.

Circus No. 9

4:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
East Tennessee's progressive bluegrass outfit Circus No. 9 blurs the lines between bluegrass, jazz, and jam bands. Banjo extraordinaire Matthew Davis is the winner of both the National Banjo Championship and the Rockygrass Banjo Contest.

Virginia native Thomas Cassell won the 2016 Rockygrass Mandolin contest and has performed beside artists including Darrell Scott, Bryan Sutton, Aofie O'Donovan, Mike Marshall, Julian Lage, Billy Strings, and more. Knoxville's Vince Ilagan--with a Bass Performance degree from the University of Tennessee and years of studio and touring experience--has performed with artists including Justin Townes Earle, Jeff Sipe, Scott Miller, and many others. Described as "John Hartford meets John Coltrane," the group has appeared alongside artists including David Grisman, Bryan Sutton and Larry Keel.

Count This Penny

4:15 - Skiffle Café Stage
Country / folk duo Count This Penny began playing music in East Tennessee but built the foundations of their early career in Madison, Wisconsin, where they recently opened a show for Margo Price. The married couple infamously gave away their television in order to focus on learning their instruments (guitar and bass) and write songs together. NPR Music aptly described them as "graceful country-pop with gorgeous vocals and Appalachian roots." Their latest full-length record is A Losing Match.

Daje Morris

1:15 - Skiffle Café Stage
Spoken word artist, photographer and musician Daje Morris (Knoxville) explores her identity and issues of freedom and love through her words and a voice that whispers and soars. At Louie Bluie, she'll perform with guitarist Logan Norris.

Eddy Sweat and Thundercreek

11:30 - Rickard Ridge Stage
Guitarist Eddy Sweat has been playing bluegrass and gospel for 25 years. He and his band Thundercreek (David Howard on bass, John O'Neal on mandolin, and Randy Terry on banjo) blend original, traditional, progressive, gospel and country into their own bluegrass sound. Their fifth album will be released in December.

Jim Myers

11:00 - Skiffle Café 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.”

John McCutcheon

12:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
No exaggeration: John McCutcheon is one of the most respected and beloved folksingers in the country. He masterfully plays a dozen traditional instruments. Critics and singers around the globe have hailed his songwriting and his voice, which sounds like one you’ve been hearing your whole life. His 30 recordings have earned numerous honors, including seven Grammy nominations. He’s produced dozens of other artists’ albums and is a writer of his own books and instructional materials.

But it is in live performance that John feels most at home. It is what has brought his music into the lives and homes of one of the broadest audiences any folk musician has ever enjoyed. People of every generation and background seem to feel at home in a concert hall when John McCutcheon takes the stage, with what critics describe as “little feats of magic,” “breathtaking in their ease and grace...,” and “like a conversation with an illuminating old friend.”

Judy Fultz

12:30 - Rickard Ridge Stage

After four decades away, a member of the musical Powers Family has returned to East Tennessee. Judy Powers Fultz grew up with musical parents and siblings, first in Coalfield, Tenn., then in the Powell Valley of Kentucky, where her love of classic country and traditional gospel grew by leaps and bounds. Regular Saturday night performances at Middlesboro’s Li’l Opry give the singer a chance to spread her musical wings and perform favorites like “Once A Day” made famous by Connie Smith, Sylvia’s “Nobody” and “The Key is in the Mailbox.”

Maggie Longmire

3:30 - Sounds Like Home Stage
Campbell County native and longtime festival friend Maggie Longmire returns with her band, Free Soil Farm, to perform original songs that showcase her soulful voice and poetic turn of phrase and hark to her musical inspirations like Bob Wills and Bob Dylan. Her latest CD, 2017’s “Baby It’s Time,” was produced by Grammy-nominated bass player Daniel Kimbro (The Jerry Douglas Band, RB Morris) and features several area musicians on jazzy, bluesy and sometimes haunting numbers that place her sultry Southern vocals and compelling stories at center stage.

Ogya World Music Band

11:45 - Children's Parade starts at Sounds Like Home Stage
5:15 - Louie Bluie Stage

Chattanooga-based singer and percussionist Kofi Mawuko hails from Ghana, West Africa. His Ogya (pronounced O-jah, meaning "fire") World Music Band brings hot, sultry rhythms of West Africa, the Caribbean and the Americas with high-energy original compositions. We dare you to sit still while this ensemble leads the midday Children's Parade and performs a full, main stage set.

Old City Buskers

11:00 - Louie Bluie Stage
The Old City Buskers have developed the reputation of being a little bit quirky and a whole lot of fun. Whether the occasion calls for a four-on-the-floor pulse or break beat hip hop, they're ready to bring it.

The group formed out of impromptu jam sessions after their weekly swing dances. Shortly thereafter, they started busking on street corners around town.

Being a band led by dancers they have unique insight into the best elements of music for dancing without all of the chest puffing from musicians with something to prove. Playing at exchanges, workshops and dances throughout the southeast they are acutely aware of what dancers want and know what it takes to keep the room going all night.

New Harvest

2:30 - Rickard Ridge Stage
New Harvest was formed in 1988 in LaFollette by Steve Bruce, Greg Marlow and Warren Marlow. Bob Powell joined the band in 1992. New Harvest plays bluegrass gospel music and has travelled across the Eastern United States playing churches and festivals for the past 20-plus years. New Harvest's main objective is spreading the Good News of the Gospel with a high energy, toe tapping, positive brand of music that will warm the heart. New Harvest's repertoire is a blend of traditional and contemporary bluegrass with a sonic focus on strong harmony vocals and solid, hard-driving music. We're so excited to have them back at Louie Bluie!

New River Rising

1:30 - Rickard Ridge Stage
If some of the players in New River Rising look familiar, it's not your imagination. This young bluegrass/bluegrass gospel outfit grew from the roots of The Beechfork Boys (who played Louie Bluie in 2016), founded in 2013 by guitarist Travis Wright and banjo player John Byrge. Lineups being what they are, the additions of bassist Curtis Maiden and rhythm guitarist Luke Marlow called for a brand new name. New River Rising echoes the classic bluegrass sounds of East Tennessee and the nearby hills and valleys these talented players call home.

Outlaw Ritual

3:15 - Skiffle Café Stage
Seasoned street performers Outlaw Ritual (Mat on banjo and guitar and Olivia on bass) have been enjoyed as nearby Knoxville's Market Square and as far away as Austin, Texas, during the most recent South By Southwest Festival. Their long-awaited recording, King Totem, reflects the raw, honky-tonk energy of their live performers as well as their collaborations with drummer Jeff Zagers and dueling accordionists Alex Genin and Matt Dallow.


2:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
At the heart of this musical chameleon is the voice of an angel. Blount County’s Robin Ella Bailey is a singer, a songwriter, and a visual artist—her creativity refusing to be contained by either music or painting. Influenced by classic country, jazz and bluegrass, Robinella and her rotation of collaborators consistently reinvent the sound of contemporary Appalachian music. Her first-Sunday-of-the-month gigs at Barley’s in Maryville bring out fans old and new; come to Louie Bluie to hear what the fuss is about!

Sean McCollough
and students from Elk Valley Elementary School

10:45 - 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.


1:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
Sigean was formed in 1997 by Clay Henry, Tom Swadley, James Skeen, and Eric Olive – four friends who shared a common interest in Irish traditional music. Together they practiced and performed Sigean's first gig at Roan Mountain State Park and began to bring the traditional music of Ireland to growing audiences. The region has always been a hotbed of traditional American music, with audiences who know and love the sound of string bands, Bluegrass, traditional dance music, and balladry. That audiences here are perfectly primed to enjoy Old-time dance music's Irish cousins, the jig and reel, comes as no surprise.

While the lineup has changed since 1997, the signature sound, repertoire, and spirit remain. Sigean plays acoustic Irish music, in a traditional way, like you'd hear in a kitchen amongst good friends.

Smiley and the Lovedawg

12:15 - Skiffle Café Stage
Prepare to chill out and feel good. Chris Durman, Steve White and Leslie Gengozian perform laidback folk, folk-rock, old-time, country blues, and bluegrass. You may recognize Chris and Steve from the folk-rock band Exit 65 they co-founded in 1986. Chris says, “We probably sound like the East Tennessee valley where we're all from—melodies, rhythms, and images from Appalachia mixed with the sensibilities and concerns of factory towns, polluted and otherwise affected by a variety of outside influences.” Sounds good to us!

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker

2:30 - Sounds Like Home 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.

Sparky and Rhonda Rucker with the Armstrong Legacy Trio

4:15 - Louie Bluie Stage
In all the years they've played the Louie Bluie festival, these main stage staples have never collaborated…until now! We're beyond excited for this long-awaited collaboration/jam session that will undoubtedly spark unforeseen creative outpourings from these musical masterminds as inspired by the father of our festival himself, Howard Armstrong.