The Marietta Bluegrass Festival Continues A Grand Tradition!
Jack and Jan Masters
The Marietta bluegrass festival has a storied past dating to the late sixties and Kenneth Hood's garage in Austell, GA. A group of North Georgia bluegrass stalwarts became tired of traveling to North Carolina for the music and decided to produce their own festival. From humble beginnings a special event grew.
Before too long, this gathering located to the Cobb County fairgrounds and began to attract national attention. In the seventies and eighties, Dillard Rogers and family promoted a very successful event and when health problems caused Dillard to have to drop the festival, Bob and Mildred Pinyan stepped forward and continued into the late 1990ís. Sadly, health issues with promoters have played a major role as Billy and Faye Johnson took over the promotion and continued the great tradition until the untimely death of Billy in January of 2002.
While attending the Spring 2002 festival in May, I had a chance to meet and speak briefly with Faye and Jack and Jan. All were in agreement that the festival should go on and that the upcoming November festival would be promoted by Jack and Jan Masters. To that end, it is fitting that the bluegrass community have the opportunity to get to know the new promoters a bit better.
The bluegrass faithful in and around Atlanta may know the Masters because of their association with the formation of the SEBA South Chapter. Jack and Jan, along with Mike Fleming have played major roles in the development of this well attended get-together the third Sunday of each month at the Old Depot in Fayetteville, GA.
Born on Sand Mountain, Dekalb County, AL, Jack started High School at Gadsden High, Gadsden, AL and graduated from Fayette Co. High, Fayetteville, GA. Jan grew up in Hiawassee, GA where her father was a very active member of the Lions Club, the producers of the Georgia Mountain Fair. They presently reside in Morrow, GA where Jack is retired as a CCCE (Certified Consumer Credit Executive) and is also active in Residential Real Estate.
While neither Jack nor Jan are musicians, they list the Seldom Scene, Blue Highway, IIIrd Tyme Out, and Quicksilver as a few of their favorite performing groups and admit to being long time fans of the music. They have been actively involved in the North Georgia bluegrass and the Marietta festival scene in particular for about six years.
When asked about the Marietta festival and his association, Jack responds, "It started in my role as manager of the 4 Winds West Band with the booking of the band to perform at the Marietta Festival. Billy and Faye knew that Jan and I were relatively new to the Georgia bluegrass scene and kept us on notice of upcoming events. They welcomed us to join them at those events and introduced us to many of their friends, including performers, fans and other promoters. Because of their unequaled hospitality and kindness, we soon became very good friends. As a result of their great friendship, pertinent advice, and unbelievable willingness to help, (and with the help of many others including our darling little niece, Lisa Masters), we were able to produce the Annual Fayetteville Bluegrass Blast."
As for their willingness to take on the promotion of the Marietta festival, Jack answers in this manner. "(It is due to) a love for the music, the wonderful people associated with it, and a strong desire to be where the action is. I like to see good things grow and prosper and history preserved. And we could not refuse when asked by our good friend Faye Johnson to assume the promotion of the event. We could not stand by and see the work of Billy and Faye and their predecessors slip away into history and leave the lives of so many bluegrass musicians and fans with an irreplaceable void. We had to at least try to keep the Marietta Festival alive and well for the bluegrass community, its fans and supporters. By so doing we hope to honor those of the past who spent so much time and effort ensuring that there was a place where bluegrass music could always be enjoyed."
Fellow SouthEastern Bluegrass Association (SEBA) board member Mike Warga has this to say, "When I heard that Jack and Jan Masters were the new promoters of the Marietta Bluegrass Festival, I thought that this was a good match. Jack is very professional and works hard to make everything he does a success. I have only know Jack a few years, and since then I have learned that bluegrass music is very much a part of his life -- just call his home phone and listen to the messages on his answering machine. Although Jack is not a musician, he has made his contribution booking bands and organizing concerts."
As for the future, both Jack and Jan are excited to be associated with bluegrass and the Marietta festival in particular. Because of the recent increase in the popularity of the music, they think the future holds a lot of promise for growth and constructive change. The Masters want to continue the efforts of Billy and Faye toward the further development of a respected venue by creating broader support from the community and a greater opportunity for performers and others who appreciate bluegrass music.
The November 2002 lineup of performers is outstanding and promises to be a great mix of local, regional, and national acts. The Marietta Festival is in good hands with Jack and Jan Masters!
The Marietta Bluegrass Festival is available on the net at:
Respectfully submitted 10/09/02
Bill Brown, Ed.D
A proud member of the SouthEastern Bluegrass Association.
Copyright © 2004 Bill Brown. All rights reserved .