(Posted May 18, 2021)
By Kristy Zurbrick, Madison Editor
Andy Leer’s grandmother brought him up in the tradition of older music. The seeds she sowed came into full blossom when Leer reached his mid-20s and took a serious shine to bluegrass music.
Now 35, the Plain City transplant from Pittsburgh sings and plays banjo, mandolin and dobro in multiple bluegrass bands, and he’s bringing that sound to the community with the second annual Bluegrass & BBQ on May 30, 2-8 p.m., at Pastime Park.
Shortly after moving to Plain City in late 2018, Leer contacted Linda Granger with the village’s parks and recreation department. Some of his musician friends from Pittsburgh were coming to visit, and Leer wanted to know if they could put on a free concert.
“She was all for it. We drew a pretty decent crowd that first year. The Grainery was there with barbecue and sold out pretty quickly. And Miller’s Ice Cream was there,” Leer said.
Encouraged by the turnout and reception of the initial event in 2019, Leer started making plans for 2020. When the pandemic derailed all events last year, he set his sights on this year, expanding the musical offerings from two bands to four and once again enlisting the village’s help.
“We’re just excited that things are opening back up and restrictions are starting to lift. It’s going to be a nice outdoor, open-air event that people can come out and enjoy,” he said.
The concert starts at 2 p.m. when Black Diamond, a four-piece band known for tight vocal harmonies and a mix of traditional and hard-driving bluegrass, takes the stage. Leer is among the band’s members. The others hail from Marysville, Ostrander and East Liberty.
Next up will be Echo Valley, a group of brothers and sisters ranging in age from about 8 years old to 20 years old. They are making the trip to Plain City from Enon Valley, Pa.
“They’re young but they are pretty seasoned on the regional bluegrass circuit. They’ve been on the Dollywood stage and are a fan favorite in eastern Ohio. They’re glad to be getting out to central Ohio,” Leer said.
The third band on the day’s program is Lonesome Lost & Foggy. Leer performs in this band, too, that calls Pittsburgh home. They focus on original tunes, as well as traditional bluegrass standbys.
State Route 33 will close out the official part of the program. Founded by veteran performers, this Ohio-based band shares a love for swing and bluegrass music. Among the band’s members are Billy Lee Cox, a national banjo champion, Vincent Paul Bryant and Dan Laney.
Once State Route 33 finishes their set, an open jam will take place at the park starting roughly around 8 p.m. Leer invites area musicians to bring their instruments.
“It’s going to be great quality music in a fantastic environment. Pastime Park is perfect for this type of thing,” Leer said.
In addition to the bands, Bluegrass & BBQ will feature several food trucks and a bounce house for kids. Organizers will have a limited number of t-shirts available for purchase.
Admission is free, and the event will go on rain or shine. Attendees are encouraged to bring chairs, blanket, and their appetites.
Bluegrass & BBQ serves as the kickoff to Plain City’s Music in the Park series. Live bands will play a variety of styles of music on most Sundays throughout the summer. All concerts are free, start at 7 p.m., and take place on the main stage at Pastime Park. Among the bands on this year’s schedule are Plain City Dads, Counterpoint (an acoustic duo), Shrine Dixieland Band, Emerald City Swing Orchestra, and the Lower London Street Dixieland Band. For the full schedule, visit the Plain City Special Events Calendar 2021.
Pastime Park is located at 370 N. Chillicothe St. in Plain City. The village is opening up additional camping sites for the Bluegrass & BBQ concert. To check on availability, visit www.plain-city.com/campground or call (614) 873-3527, ext. 108.
For updates about Bluegrass & BBQ, visit https://fb.me/e/16SRTWELT.