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Briar Patch Festival has exceeded expectations

Carlton Fletcher

DAMASCUS — The annual Briar Patch Music Festival here has become the “Little Festival That Could.”

Dreamed as a “one-day festival with three or four local bands,” the Briar Patch fest, which will return for its fourth spring outing — there was a Christmas show mixed in — Thursday-Saturday, has stretched well beyond those early days of low expectations.

Expectations swelled to new heights in the days and weeks leading up to Briar Patch 2013 as organizers started throwing out artists’ names recognized well beyond the confines of the immediate region, names like Col. Bruce Hampton, American Aquarium, Saint Francis, Rollin’ in the Hay. Added to a lineup that already featured some of the region’s top artists — The Bo Henry Band, Evan Barber & the Dead Gamblers, the Claude Bell Project, the Evergreen Family Band — and suddenly Briar Patch became THE hot musical ticket in the region.

“We kinda started this as a place for bands within about a 150-mile radius of here to play in front of music fans that might not normally get to see them play,” Jeb Tabb, one of the festival’s organizers, said. “But things kept steadily growing, and suddenly we needed more land.

“Now we’ve built a permanent stage (on the 13810 Five Bridges Road site), and things are really taking off. I never expected we’d be where we are now when we started this.”

Home folks Jeb, Cody and Troupe Tabb, Brandon and Brian Lovering, Vic Hathorn, Rocky Spurlock, Patrick Andrews, Neil MeGahee, Clay Skalla, musician/businessman Henry and the 340 Creative Group have formed a strong DIY team that handles all aspects of the festival.

“Bo, Evan and the guys at 340 know a lot of the musicians, so they’re able to talk with the promoters and get them to come down here,” Jeb Tabb said. “Everything else, we all pitch in and do ourselves. We built the stage and the (vendor) booths to fit the festival grounds, and we pretty much do all the other stuff that has to be done.

“There’s no way we could have pulled this off without everyone pitching in and doing the work.”

In addition to the aforementioned artists, Briar Patch 2013 will also feature Dr. Louis Sullivan, Mama’s Love, Betsy Kingston & the Crowns, Biggest Band in the Land, One Too Many Mornings, Highback Rockers, Rod Holt, Destiny Brown, Wainwright Applegate, Bubba Hall, The Dead Fields, Bibb City Ramblers, Bret Mosley, Kristan Mikala, the Ben Sutton Band and Spong.

Weekend festival passes are $40, while day passes are $25 at the gate. Coolers are welcome, and tent and RV-with-generator camping is offered at no charge.

Information about the festival, whose primary sponsor is Sync South, is available at www.briarpatchpro.com.

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