The 2011 Blue Ridge Gospel Music Weekend was held last weekend at Holly Springs Baptist Church with such notable guests as Blue Ridge group, Rob Mills Band, Balsam Range, Aaron Wilburn, Mountain Faith and Archie Watkins and Smoky Mountain Reunion. The church has hosted the event the past 7 years, as part of the limited Blue Ridge tour.
On Saturday, Aaron Wilburn wowed the crowd with his usual humorous and refreshing, perspective on life.
Next, Mountain Faith, a local gospel group from Sylva headed by Sam McMahan performed a number of favorites. Every summer the group hosts the Old Mater Farm bluegrass concert series on their farm.
Archie Watkins joined some of his old friends from the days when he was with the Inspirations Quartet for this special tour. These men have been together for 48 years and were a special treat.
Watkins, Marlin Shubert, Jack Laws, Troy Burns are all from Bryson City. Eddie Deitz is originally from Sylva.
Danny Jones, the editor of the Singing News magazine which was started in 1969, served as the MC for the weekend. After introducing Archie and the Smoky Mountain Reunion, Jones explained why Watkins was in a wheelchair. “There is nothing life-threatening wrong with Archie,” he said, “he just picked a fight with a tree and the tree won.”
Recently Jones explained that Watkins had been doing some yard work and was loading a stump into his truck when he slipped in the grass and busted his heel.
After a few introductory songs, Archie Watkins spoke about how good it was to be among friends again. He gave a little of his background with some of the families in this area. “But,” he added, “the best thing is the Spirit of the Lord.”
The group performed many beloved songs that they have recorded over the years.
There were refreshments for sale in the fellowship hall for the weekend events, with the proceeds going to benefit a youth trip planned by Holly Springs Baptist Church.