Friday, July 7
6:30PM Festival begins
7:00PM – 7:45PM Sidestage
8:00PM – 9:30PM Main Stage
TOMMY: A BLUEGRASS OPRY
“Ever since I was a young boy I played the silver ball”
Maybe not your standard bluegrass lyric, but a line known by all the world from the biggest rock opera of all time, The Who’s Tommy. 45 years after its original release, this classic of classic rock has now been fully realized as a full length bluegrass tribute featuring Springfield, Missouri’s The HillBenders. Conceived and produced by SXSW co-founder and longtime musician/producer Louis Jay Meyers, this Bluegrass Opry brings a new perspective to Tommy while paying total respect to its creators.
Originally composed by guitarist Pete Townshend as a rock opera that tells the story about a deaf, dumb and blind boy, including his experiences with life and the relationship with his family. The original album has sold 20 million copies and has been inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame for “historical, artistic and significant value”. In 2003, Rolling Stone magazine ranked Tommy number 96 on its list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
Meyers had been looking for the right band to pull off this high wire bluegrass approach for several decades and The HillBenders are the right band. With a perfect mix of virtuoso musicianship and rock star vocals, The HillBenders bring Pete Townshend’s original vision to life in a new and exciting way.
It’s amazing to hear banjo, dobro, mandolin, bass, and guitar bring the same energy and vision to Tommy as The Who did with a full rock band and orchestra.
The sound they produce is unique and captivating. “The HillBenders combine the traditions of bluegrass with a diversity of influences creating a sound unlike any you’ve heard before” • 2010 National SingleMic Champions, 2009 Telluride Bluegrass Festival Band Contest Winners, and 2009 Rockygrass Finalists.
“And while it’s probably unfair to weigh how much more texture, and dynamics, and flair guitarist Jim Rea, mandolinist Nolan Lawrence, dobro player Chad Graves and banjo player Mark Cassidy add, by comparison to all of Pete Townshend’s overdubs, the ultimate result is that the Hillbenders’ version is arguably even more epic. And what more could you possibly want from a rock opera? That probably explains why Townshend has given his blessing to the album.” – New York City Music Daily Featured Review
Grassy Hill Sidestage presented by Grassy Hill Entertainment
The Grassy Hill Sidestage presents the best of local and emerging talent prior to the Main Stage concert. Come early, have a picnic under the stars or dine with our local vendors onsite, and enjoy the sounds of these up and coming acts to set the mood for your evening.
KidZone features child and family focused interactive fun and games! Activities vary by day. Children can have their face painted, grab a balloon, make chalk drawings, make instruments, and color to their hearts content.