The Final Friday in Boneyfiddle closed a circle over the weekend that was two years in the making when performer Chris Jones visited from Canada to perform with his band, The Night Drivers.
Jones is a Portsmouth Native bluegrass musician who became well known for his song “Bridge to Portsmouth,” which was also featured on the organization’s Welcome Back to P-Town CD.
Organizers Rob and Julia Black were excited to welcome him, have him perform, and give a tour after breakfast.
Organizer Rob Black said that it was a highlight for him.
“We tried getting him into the country in 2020, but the pandemic caught us all by surprise and he lives in Alberta, Canada,” Black explained. “So, it didn’t happen until this year. He actually flew in, directly from a concert in Sweden, to be with us.”
Black commented on the track featured on his CD, saying that he is proud to have it on the track list, since “Bridge to Portsmouth” is now considered a bluegrass classic, considering its age.
Black had a good mind to book the performer, who, alongside acts Wiley Dew and Rob McNurlin, welcomed over 1,000 people to the downtown.
“There are, basically, a couple types of people who come to our shows. Ones who sit up close and are really into the music and those who stay back and like to socialize and talk,” Black said. “For some, it is background music for community engagement, but, there were a lot of people sitting close to hear Chris Jones at this Final Friday and those people really got a great concert.”
Black said that the show was very intimate and lasted for a 90-minute set. For Black, however, the highlight of the night had two distinct highlights.
The first was the presence of the Burnside Family, who attended and sat next to a memorial blanket for local legend Jeremy Burnside, which the group has erected at every Final Friday this season. Black also welcomed new resident Jerod Brankamp, new owner of Burnside Brankamp Law, and had a special moment where he was reminded of an old friend.
The second highlight was seeing Judy Masters in the front row.
“Judy Masters attended Final Friday for the first time. She arrived in a wheelchair and sat in the very front. She was a WPAY bluegrass Disc jockey and was the second female to ever disc jockey a commercial radio show,” Black Explained. “She has been given many awards and they’ve all been well deserved. Anyway, she visited, because she knew Chris in 1981 when he was here. It was a wonderful moment, so I gave a shout out to her and many people remembered her.”
The closing night of Final Friday in Boneyfiddle of the season will be September 30, with Hart and Valentine, Creek Don’t Rise, and Mikey Mike and the Big Unit performing.
Black said that it will be a wonderful show and perfect closing act of the season, since Mikey Mike and the Big Unit is such a largely popular local band, which is the spirit of the event.
Black also encourages guests to attend, due to the timeframe of the event, claiming that the event is hard to organize, since he borrows the lot that the concerts take place on. If a permanent home isn’t decided, the likelihood of Final Friday ending in year ten, two years from now, is high. Until then, he is excited to let the music roll, be bringing in thousands of people to an otherwise slow section of downtown and putting out hopes that a deal can be made to secure a permanent home. If a deal is struck, Black plans on working on getting grant funding for a permanent, state-of-the-art venue. One grant he has his eye on is the 500 million Appalachian Ohio stimulus Governor DeWine has appropriated, so an immediate home is instrumental. A property he has his eye on is the lot he uses at Three Bridges, which he is actively pursuing.
For more information on Final Friday in Boneyfiddle, visit them on Facebook.
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