It was early morning and Michael Johnathon was relaxing with a cup of coffee at his log cabin in Bourbon County.
It was the calm before the storm.
“I’ll be the exhausted guy running around,” he laughed as he looked forward to the 10-concert series planned in Georgetown at Cardome Renaissance Center, starting Thursday, June 3 with Rhonda Vincent and the Rage. The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. Grounds will open at 5 p.m.
Johnathon is a nationally known folk singer who created the WoodSongs Old-time Radio Hour and the Troubadour concert series. He has recorded multiple albums, written books and recently had a screenplay, “Caney Creek: The Legend of Alice Lloyd,” optioned as a motion picture. In January, Gov. Andy Beshear awarded Johnathon with the Milner Award for his efforts in the arts and music, in Kentucky and nationwide.
“Gov. Beshear is a brilliant fellow,” Johnathon said adding that Beshear wanted as many people to receive COVID-19 vaccines as possible so the economy could be opened up. When the governor asked for Johnathon’s help, he immediately put together plans for a concert series which would be free to anyone who has a first or second shot vaccine. It was decided a team will be on hand to provide Pfizer vaccines prior to each concert so they would essentially be open to anyone. Everyone must also have a rapid test clearance 48 hours prior to the concert. Rapid tests, which take about 20 minutes, will also be available prior to the concert, if necessary.
The pandemic has been rough on everyone, but it has been especially difficult for musicians and artists, he said.
“I know artists and musicians who have been decimated by this thing,” Johnathon said. “I know brilliant artists who have been brought to their knees by this pandemic.”
The opportunity to encourage people to get a vaccine and enable fellow musicians and artists to perform before a live audience again was too much to pass up. Within a very few days, he had 11 concerts lined up with nationally known artists such as Douglas, Exile and Arlo McKinley.
And he knew the perfect venue.
“Cardome is an underused asset,” Johnathon said. “It is a beautiful place. My wife and her family are from Georgetown, so we thought of holding the concerts there. It is a unique event happening in a unique place.
“We love Georgetown, and we believe we must protect our hometowns.”
The cause, encouraging as many people as possible to get a vaccine, is very important as almost everyone involved in the events are volunteering their time. In fact, volunteers are being sought to help throughout the series. If interested email email@example.com. Volunteers must be vaccinated and provide rapid test clearance within 48 hours.
“These artists are all coming out of the goodness of their hearts.,” Johnathon said. “They want to help. This series was not hard to put together because they are all my friends and we all want this ding-dang pandemic over with.”
“This is part of what makes Kentucky so great. The community spirit is absolutely endearing. Kentucky is like the rocking chair on America’s front porch and this music is part of the soundtrack that will make Kentucky’s future a leading force.”
The concerts will be held in a massive 500 seat tent.
Teams will be on site the night of each concert, so people can receive a Pfizer vaccine and a rapid test — which takes about 20 minutes for a result, so come early if necessary. Information on how to reserve a free ticket to any or all of the Concerts at Cardome is posted online at TroubaShow.com
“These concerts are 10 great reasons why folks should be in Georgetown this June,” Johnathon said. “That’s important, we need to love our hometowns, keep them healthy and fun.”
All concerts are tentatively set to begin at 7:30 p.m. Grounds will open at 5 p.m. for those who plan to receive a vaccination or who may need a rapid test.
The concert lineup includes:
Rhonda Vincent and the Rage, June 3
Honored as the “Queen of Bluegrass” by the New York Times, Grammy Award winner, multi IBMA Award winner including 8-time “Female Vocalist of the Year” and now a member of the Grad Ole Opry. Rhonda Vincent and the Rage are one of the most powerful, exciting and popular bands in the world of bluegrass.
Jerry Douglas Band, June 6
One of bluegrass SuperStars, the iconic featured performer with Alison Krauss & Union Station, the driving force behind the IBMA Entertainer of Year group Earls of Leicester, in concert with his full band!
Arlo McKinley, June 8
Standing in the grand tradition of Chris Stapleton, Tyler Childers, Sturgill Simpson and Colter Wall, Arlo is packing them in at theaters across north America. This is a rare and special event.
Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper, June 12
The most awarded fiddle player in the history of the IBMA, infused with rocket ship energy on the heals of receiving the Grammy Award for Bluegrass Album of the Year. In concert with his band of super pickers.
Bobby Rush and Tee Dee Young - Double Bill, June 16
Grammy Award winning blues master, king of the Delta roots tradition and Chitlin’ Circuit, winning 12 Blues Music Awards just in thrill e last few years alone. If you love real, raw, rootsy blues … don’t miss Bobby Rush! Tee Dee Young is nothing short of Kentucky’s own blues treasure, a legend in his on right as a recognized master of the Blues.
Suzy Bogguss, June 18
One of country musics most awarded and revered voices, In the 1990s, six of her songs were Top 10 hits, three albums were certified gold, and one album received a platinum certification. Hit records like “Souvenirs” “Aces” “Letting Go” “Drive South” and more, plus tunes from her latest Merle Haggard tribute album.
George Winston, June 19
One of America’s premier piano masters, selling millions of albums across the globe, especially know for the Linus and Lucy theme song for the Peanuts TV Specials. This will be a magical evening of grand instrumental mastery not to be missed.
Tommy Emmanuel with Rob Ickes and Trey Hensley, June 25
Revered as the greatest acoustic guitarist on planet earth, his concerts leave audiences spellbound around the world. The Australian guitar master is considered the Chet Atkins of the new generation, inspiring thousands of young guitar players in his shadow. Rob Ickes is a master musician winning over a dozen IBMA Dobro Player of the Year Awards and Trey Hensley is a brilliant new generation guitar player. Bring your seat belts for this one!
Exile, June 26
Kentucky’s own iconic superstars, members of the Kentucky Music Hall of Fame and among Country music top hit makes. They ignited their career with the global smash “I Want To Kiss You All Over” followed by a huge list of top country hit records.
Andy McKee and Ben Sollee, June 29
Andy is one of the most brilliant acoustic guitar players in North America, Ben has changed the way musicians approach the cello. This is two separate concert performance in one night. One ticket, One Night, One stage, Two Artists for an evening of mind bending musicianship.
Mike Scogin can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.