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On Saturday, June 8, the doors of the 100 year old Historic Murray’s Mill will be opened to the sounds of guitars, fiddles and good times with The Murray’s Mill Spring Bluegrass Music Festival, sponsored by the Catawba County Historical Association and United Arts Council of Catawba County. This year’s event will be highlighted by performances by The Sigmon Stringers and The Cockman Family Bluegrass Bands.
The Stringers, a three-generation bluegrass band from Newton, has something to offer both the young and old. The award winning band has played many venues on the east coast including Merle Fest and a spot opening for Doc Watson at the Soldiers Reunion Celebration in Newton.
Sharing the stage with the Sigmon Stringers, will be the Cockman Family Bluegrass band. Cockman Family has developed a distinct bluegrass gospel style that has garnered audiences throughout the southeast. They have earned recognition with their unique arrangements of old gospel songs, tight harmonies and original compositions.
The theme of this year’s event is Youth in Bluegrass. Visitors should notice that the instruments are being played by a younger group of musicians this year. The day’s event will feature many performances from young people playing a wide variety of instruments such as the guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, bass fiddle and slide guitar, and there are also pickers from the NC high country.
The Sigmon Stringers has four out of its eight members under the age of 25. One of those members is Anna Sigmon. Anna, aged 22, who shares the stage with her younger cousins Maggie, Mollie and Beau, is a fast tune loving young lady making her way in the world of picking. Starting at the age of 10, Anna was taught by her father, Randy, to play the banjo. She learned how to play on a Gibson “Earl Scruggs” Signature Model Banjo, Nicknamed “81” due to its serial number, that she still plays today.
Anna is known for speeding up the tempos for songs every now and again. Anna has won numerous awards for her talents, winning Jr. division and Adult division titles at the NC State Fair Folk Festival. She was awarded each time as being the best instrumentalist at the festival for all 10 days of the event. She has also won numerous events at the NC State, Catawba Co. and Cleveland Co. fairs, and the Fiddlers Grove event in Union Grove, NC. While Anna is away from the stage, she follows interests in equestrian studies and the arts. In 2008, she was awarded the National 4H Public Speaking Championship and was a part of the NC 4H Horse Judging team that took home the title in 2008.
“People always ask me if playing is the only thing I do, of course it’s not! I have many interests such as history and art,” Anna said. “They always want to know if I just listen to bluegrass and some are surprised to hear that I listen to all forms of music. I’m just a normal 22 year old.” The CCHA is proud to have Anna, along with “81”, and the rest of the performers, for a day fill of guitars, fiddles and good times at The Murray’s Mill Spring Bluegrass Music Festival.
The festival will be held at Historic Murray’s Mill at 1489 Murrays Mill Rd, in Catawba. Admission is $10. The event will start at 10 a.m. and last into the early evening, ending at 8 p.m. Gates open at 9 a.m. Any questions can be directed to the Catawba County Historical Association at 828-465-0383. While visitors will get a chance to tap their toes to the best in bluegrass and gospel, there will also be a chance to learn about the historic mill, as the CCHA will open the grist mill for viewings. Pack a picnic lunch, purchase some snacks from vendors, visit the general store to pick up a glass bottle drink, bring a chair and make a day of it.