Independence Day weekend includes activities that are musical counterpoints to the fireworks of the Fourth. They’re a short drive from home, located in Coryell County, and, best of all, both are free.
On Saturday, load up the family and make the scenic drive to tiny Pearl. At the community center, formerly the Pearl school, musicians from all over the state will gather for the monthly Pearl Bluegrass Jam and Stage Show. It’s a full immersion, roots-music environment and virtually every space in the rambling school house will be filled with fiddlers, bass players, banjo pickers, mandolin strummers and guitar pluckers.
The staged events start at 12:15 p.m., but the extemporaneous jam sessions, which take place in classrooms, hallways and outside under the shade trees, may be as interesting as the more formal performances in the old auditorium.
Two state champion musicians — Adam Greer, banjo, and J.P. Shafer, mandolin — are scheduled to perform onstage at 1 p.m.
Food is available on site, prepared in the school’s kitchen, and a special Fourth of July offering — all-beef hot dog with chili, cheese, chips and all the “fixins” — is priced at $3. A separate menu of food, desserts and beverages is available.
Best of all, the day of bluegrass music and informal jamming, and the bucolic country setting is free. And don’t miss the Pearl Book Cottage, across the parking area from the school. Inside this stone house, you’ll find books and gift items of all types, with prices determined by the buyer. All proceeds go to area charities, and it’s a must-see for book lovers and gift seekers.
Sunday is the kick-off concert for the Jeffrey Arnold Foundation’s Festival Concerts in Gatesville. Now in its fourth season, the three-concert series opens at the First United Methodist Church with internationally known soprano Melissa Givens from Houston, accompanied by pianist Jeffrey Arnold.
Founder Arnold, a native of Gatesville, said he wanted to present a new concert series that would include nascent and professional artists in solo recital and chamber music performances. Sunday’s concert, titled “With A Song In Her Heart,” includes songs and spirituals by Duparc, Purcell and John Carter and will be Givens’ debut with the festival.
A major goal of the foundation is providing scholarships to assist gifted and talented students in the continuation of their musical studies. Each of the festival’s concerts is free and open to the public, featuring a reception with the artists in the church parlor following the performances.
The ambitious, innovative series continues with New York City concert artist Cory Snoddy, oboist, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Brazilian-born piano virtuoso Mario L.S. Barbosa at 7 p.m. Thursday. All performances are at the First United Methodist Church, Gatesville.