In 2011, the Mauldin Cultural Center added an outdoor amphitheater. In January 2012, The Railroad Concert Series officially launched as part of our summer amphitheater programming with a performance by Mac Arnold & Plate Full O’ Blues. Since then, more than 5,000 music lovers have attended the Railroad concerts and have traveled from as far as the Northeast to as close as our neighbors behind the Center.
Today, the series features live performances by musicians offering up a heady mix of bluegrass, Americana and folk every Friday night in May. And the best part? All shows are FREE of charge.
• All shows are FREE of charge and general admission.
• Lawn chairs and/or blankets are welcome for all outdoor shows.
• Outside food and beverages are prohibited.
• Food and beverage vendors will be on-site.
The Secret Sisters | May 5, 7 p.m.
There are two ways of handling a dangerous, raging river: you can surrender and let it carry you away, or you can swim against the flow. For The Secret Sisters, there was a point after the release of their last record when they could have chosen to do neither – instead, sinking to the bottom as the weight of the world washed away their dreams. They went from touring with Bob Dylan to losing their label, purging their team, filing bankruptcy and almost permanently trading harmonies for housecleaning. But there’s a mythical pull to music that kept sisters Laura and Lydia Rogers moving forward, and they came out with a biting and beautiful third LP, produced by Brandi Carlile, You Don’t Own Me Anymore. Their first as New West signees, it’s a document of hardship and redemption, of pushing forward when it would be so much easier to drown in grief. And it’s a story about how passion and pure artistry can be the strongest sort of salvation – how art is left, like perfect grains of sand, when everything else has washed away.
“We are more proud of these songs than we have ever been,” says Laura. “Some of the songs are a little more cryptic, but some of them are very pointed and honest and direct. And we had to let those songs happen. We had to let ourselves be angry again, and bring up things we wanted to forget.”
Laura and Lydia found themselves in a more creative and honest space than ever, with their experiences flowing and morphing into collective tales of triumph, rage and the indefatigable human spirit. The resulting songs of You Don’t Own Me Anymore are about life when everything you think defines you is stripped away: from “The Damage,” as gorgeous as it is haunting, that speaks directly to those that did them wrong, to the first single “Tennessee River Runs Low,” that imagines the willful flow of a powerful river. These are journeys as poetic as they are confessional, always anchored by the timeless, crystalline ring of Laura and Lydia’s voices in sweet unison.
The end product finds the sisters taking their music to new places, with soulful, gospel grooves and stirring vocal deliveries that never seek perfection over power. From murder ballads to skewering roasts, it’s a guidebook for survival. After all, sometimes you have to lose everything to get a renewed version in return. Like the Tennessee River they sing about, only after a drought does fresh, new water come rushing in. The same could be said for The Secret Sisters, who were scraped dry and put through hell, coming out with their finest record, You Don’t Own Me Anymore.
Mountain Heart | May 12, 7 p.m.
Mountain Heart is the band that has been fearlessly revolutionizing the way acoustic music can be presented and played. The band’s name has been synonymous with cutting-edge excellence in acoustic music circles since the group’s creation. Widely known throughout the music industry for continually redefining the boundaries of acoustic music, the band has gained legions of loyal fans both as a result of their superlative musicianship and just as notably, their incendiary live performances.
Mountain Heart or members have been nominated for Grammys, ACM, and CMA awards. The band has also been nominated for and won multiple IBMAs. They have appeared on the revered stage of the Grand Ole Opry in excess of 130 times, and have shared the stage with acts ranging from Lynyrd Skynyrd, Montgomery Gentry, Merle Haggard, George Jones and Brad Paisley to Alison Krauss, Tony Rice, The Avett Brothers, Yonder Mountain Stringband, The Punch Brothers, Levon Helm, John Fogerty and many more.
Mountain Heart’s musical virtuosity – the band is comprised of top call studio pros at every position, unmatched energy, and a keen sense of entertainment dynamics have helped them to forge a highly unique sound and stage show which appeals to an ever-growing variety of musical tastes. From large outdoor Folk music, Americana, Jam and Bluegrass festivals, to sold-out shows opening for Southern Rock icons like The Marshall Tucker Band, The Tedeshi Trucks Band or Lynyrd Skynyrd, Mountain Heart always makes an undeniable connection with an audience. This rare combination makes Mountain Heart one of the more versatile musical acts ever assembled.
Throughout the band’s storied history, members past and present have dedicated their time, talent, and creativity to the group, leading to their hard earned reputation as one of the most exciting and unforgettable live shows anywhere in the world. With a new team in place, Mountain Heart is beyond excited for this new beginning and journey ahead.
Cereus Bright | May 19, 7 p.m.
Cereus Bright was born out of a blind love of playing music. Meeting each other on a porch in Knoxville, TN, founding members Tyler Anthony and Evan Ford connected over a shared passion–connecting with people by writing and performing meaningful, melodic songs. They quickly found kindred spirits in Luke Bowers (drums), Matt Nelson (bass), and Jake Smith (electric guitar). Jazz performers by trade, the trio’s musicality complemented the raw energy of Anthony and Ford, and Cereus Bright soon became a five-piece.
In the coming year, Cereus Bright played over a hundred tour dates across the country, opening for acts like Sturgill Simpson, The Oh Hellos, Philip Philips and The Lone Bellow. They released videos racking up over 200,000 views and gained over a million plays.
“We figured out what kind of band we want to be,” Ford explains. “We want to write songs about real life, which can be beautiful or messy or both. We want to play them in a way that’s melodic and catchy, but is still musical and real. And we want to connect with people–whether it’s in person or through our music, we want our music to mean something to people.”
My Girl, My Whiskey & Me | May 26, 7 p.m.
My Girl My Whiskey & Me was named after a song written by Cam Shriver of the Rayado Ruffians. This song represents George’s love-at-first-sight experience with bluegrass and the mandolin. A progressive bluegrass duo that got it’s start in Naples, Florida, the band has played for a large number of audiences from caviar bars to sports bars, and was recently featured in the Naples Daily News, with another local duo called, The Good Bad Kids.
Despite their rising success in the South Florida area, MGMWAM (an extremely long acronym) bid a bittersweet farewell to their home for a new beginning in Greenville, South Carolina in January 2014. The band’s folk, rock, progressive bluegrass and Americana notes have been influenced by The Beatles, The Civil Wars, Modest Mouse, The Decemberists, and Old Crow Medicine Show to name a few.