DAMASCUS — There may be no more aptly named musical event than the Briar Patch Festival, which will be held just north of here Friday and Saturday.
And while the “word-of-mouth festival” has drawn decent crowds in its first two years, the addition of headliner Chris Knight to an already strong musical lineup may propel the two-day gathering beyond even the wildest dreams of the festival’s planners.
“We’ve done more to promote the festival this year than we have before,” said Jeb Tabb, a member of Evan Barber & the Dead Gamblers and a principle in the Threeforty Creative Group that has been instrumental in planning the event. “What we’re finding out is there is a strong group that has, through word of mouth, embraced the festival.
“We have a nice younger crowd and an older crowd that we know will be there every year. We’re counting on those same faces being back and bringing two or three new people along with them.”
Those familiar faces come to the Briar Patch fest to enjoy a weekend of camping and hear some of the region’s best bluegrass, alternative country, Americana, jam band and rock music. Topping that list this year is Knight, who has drawn favorable comparisons to legends Steve Earle and John Prine.
“We were so lucky to get Chris to play this year,” Tabb said. “He’s just one of those artists that I’ve always loved, and when we found he was available we started working to get him here. We’re very excited that he’ll be a part of the festival.”
Influenced by pioneers like Prine and Earle, Knight came to Nashville in the early 1990s and won a coveted spot on a songwriters’ night at the famed Bluebird Cafe. He was discovered by Frank Liddell and signed to a publishing deal with Bluewater Music. When Liddell was later signed to an A&R position with Decca Records, he brought Knight onboard.
Knight has won a large following with his albums, including his self-titled debut, “Pretty Good Guy,” “Jealous Kind” and “Enough Rope.”
Music starts Friday at 6 p.m. with the Biggest Band in the Land, followed by Wainwright Applegate, Dirk Quinn, Ancient Harmony and Tony Brook. Saturday’s lineup kicks off at 11 a.m. with Kristan Mikala, followed to the Briar Patch stage by Bubba Hall and Friends, the Evergreen Family Band, Spong, the Suex Effect, Betsy Kingston & the Crowns, Barber & the Gamblers, Knight (at 10 p.m.) with the Bo Henry Band closing out the night and playing well into the morning hours.
Festival day passes are $20, while weekend passes are available for $30. Camper hook-ups are already full, but there is space available at no charge for campers who bring their own generators. Primitive camping is free as well. The festival site is 2 miles north of Damascus, just east of State Highway 45 North, at 13810 Five Bridges Road.
Information is available at www.briarpatchpro.com.
“We’re drawing people from the Atlanta, Birmingham (Ala.), Macon, Savannah and Tallahassee (Fla.) areas,” Tabb said. “It’s such a great place for an event like this. The only thing connecting (the festival) to the rest of the world is the main power supply from the nuclear plant. It’ll be a great time for all ages.”
Children 12-under enter the festival free of charge.