The Blackberry Farm on Blazer Road in Franklin comes to life each summer for one musically magical event, during which fireflies light the night sky, music fans chill, dance and visit with each other and the sounds of instruments fill the air.
Fans making plans to attend the 2019 Blackberry Jam can expect a soul-filled musical experience, as multi-faceted Texas soul man Lee Roy Parnell brings his Delta Blues, Road House Rock, Southern Boogie, Texas Swing and gospel sounds to the headliner spot of this year’s event, which is set for 10 a.m.-10 p.m. on June 22.
Parnell could easily be called a Texas triple threat. He's a part of a long line of Texas roots music eclectics and is among the elite few who have mastered the triple crown of ace guitarist, distinctive singer and hit songwriter.
His music runs the gamut. His sound defies conventional classification. He brings a broad range of musical sources combined with seamless dexterity, and unlike many other hard-to-pigeonhole artists, Parnell has enjoyed a run of success on the country and blues charts that have given him a wide audience over the years.
He’s also a longtime fan of The Blackberry Jam.
“I’m really looking forward to kicking off the berry-picking season and helping raise funds and awareness for Hard Bargain Association at Blackberry Jam,” he said of performing for this year’s event. “Franklin, Leiper’s Fork and Boyd Mill Farm are such a rare slice of Americana. We’re fortunate to get to experience strolls down Main Street, picking blackberries and slowing down at the sight of Andy Griffith’s patrol car in the Leiper’s Fork city limits. This will be a family-oriented event, and we’re bringing the kids. Grab a quilt, a cooler and come on out.”
Jam Founder Carol Warren is excited, as well.
“Years ago, I saw Lee Roy sitting in the field, just enjoying the Jam, supporting other musicians and the community,” she said. “From the conversation that day to this year’s show, we’ve talked many times about getting him here to play. He is a fabulous singer and writer, a virtuoso on the guitar and a world-class entertainer. Even better, he is a world-class guy, with that big Texas smile.”
From the start of his career through present day, Parnell has approached all aspects of his life with a keen sense of protecting his integrity.
“The people I most respect and relate to musically or in life have been people who stood up for what they believe in and stuck to their guns, no matter what,” he said. “I guess I’m what could be considered a ‘lifer’ and in it for the long haul. I’m still growing and developing with every year, every album, every song. I am what I am because of what I have experienced and survived.
“What tomorrow brings will be as much a surprise to me as whoever is reading this. Mine has not been a fast nor an easy walk, but I wouldn’t change it. I am who I am today because of every road I’ve traveled. Anybody who knows me well will tell you that.”
Also performing in this year’s lineup will be youth bluegrass/acoustic phenoms Giri and Uma Peters; country/bluegrass artist Lockwood Barr; 1980s acoustic country roots stars Baillie & The Boys; the unique, modern folk sounds of Freddy and Francine; the Piedmont Blues stylings of MSG Acoustic Blues Trio; and much more.
Festivities will kick off at 10 a.m. with radio show Viva! Nashvegas broadcasting from the Puckett’s stage.
The Blackberry Jam, presented by Franklin’s Downtown and Noon Rotary Clubs, is a family-oriented event, with a special children’s concert from noon to 2 p.m. Music will continue throughout the afternoon and evening until 10. Guests can bring chairs, blankets, beverages in ice chests and well-mannered dogs on leashes.
The Blackberry Jam is a nonprofit organization and relies solely on donations, an all-volunteer workforce and ticket sales to make this treasured event happen each year and provide support to the Hard Bargain Association.
Tickets are $10 in advance (plus $1.09 service fee) or $15 at the gate, and ages 12 and younger are admitted for free. The gates will open at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, visit www.theblackberryjam.com.