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  • Jeremy Huffaker

THE Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival Experience is authentic (unlimited)

Bluegrass music, camping chairs, new friends, and plenty of good food. That sounds great, but what if one of your favorite bands is on stage? Well, get ready for an experience of a lifetime when Authentic Unlimited graces the Dumplin Valley stage in September 2024. If you're anything like me, the sound of banjos, fiddles, and mandolins strumming in perfect harmony makes your heart race and your feet tap. It's that good ol' bluegrass magic that has us coming back for more year after year. And if you're seeking the ultimate bluegrass experience, look no further than next year in Kodak, TN.


(Photo by Laci Mack)
Authentic Unlimited DVBF 2024 (Photo by Laci Mack)

The Dynamic Signature Sound of Authentic Unlimited


As the name suggests, Authentic Unlimited brings an authentic and unique sound to the bluegrass scene. With diverse backgrounds and influences, they've crafted a style that respects the roots of bluegrass music while injecting their own energy and creativity. Their performances are a potent mix of crafted skill, talent, and years of experience.


Each member of the band contributes to their musical development with years of hard work that began at a young age. From singing lead and harmony to playing various instruments, Authentic Unlimited brings a fresh, yet timeless, approach to bluegrass that you won’t want to miss.


Jerry Cole, Eli Johnston, and Stephen Burwell, instrumental pillars of Authentic Unlimited, bring with them a wealth of experience deeply rooted in the heart of bluegrass tradition. Jerry’s talent found a home in the esteemed Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver until the retirement of the legendary Lawson. As well, Eli Johnston's musical talent was showcased in the Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver group. And as if that wasn’t enough, Stephen Burwell's fiddling skills earned him a musical home in the ranks of Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver too. Together, their collective experience brings an incredible smoothly synchronized sound that resonates with every note, embodying the essence of the genre's rich heritage.


Legends in the Making: The Stories Behind Authentic Unlimited


(Photo by Laci Mack)
John Meador (Photo by Laci Mack)

Authentic Unlimited is a musical powerhouse comprised of five exceptional talents, each with a distinct musical path that contributes to the band's signature sound. John Meador, with roots deep in the heart of East Tennessee, brings a soulful authenticity to the group. His early exposure to guitar and harmonies in the band Kentucky Just Us, combined with his passion for storytelling through music, creates a rich tapestry of melodies. Jerry Cole, another Tennessee native raised

(Photo by Laci Mack)
Jerry Cole (Photo by Laci Mack)

around the sounds of Sharps Chapel, lifts the ensemble with resonanting lead vocals and harmonies. His deep history with bands like Cody Shuler and Pine Mountain Railroad, as well as Russell Moore and IIIrd Tyme Out, lends a seasoned depth to the band's performance.

(Photo by Laci Mack)
Eli Johnston (Photo by Laci Mack)

Eli Johnston, with heritage stretching from Missouri to southeastern Kansas, weaves his experiences into the ensemble's fabric. His early exposure to festivals and a background with 'Nothin' Fancy’ blend a vibrant energy into their bluegrass mix.

(Photo by Laci Mack)
Jesse Brock (Photo by Laci Mack)

Jesse Brock, a Kentucky native, introduces the sweet strains of the mandolin, earning him the coveted IBMA Mandolin Player of The Year award. His journey from fiddle to mandolin brings a unique instrumental perspective that enriches the band's inspiring landscape. Lastly, Stephen Burwell, whose musical journey spans from Texas to North Carolina, adds a furious fiddler's flair to the ensemble. His proficiency in sound

(Photo by Laci Mack)
Stephen Burwell (Photo by Laci Mack)

engineering contributes to the band's polished sound. Together, these musicians bring a wealth of influences and experiences that form into an original, dynamic bluegrass experience.


Their musical styles, influenced by their diverse backgrounds, blend seamlessly to create an original and captivating sound. The amalgamation of Meador's heartfelt lyrics, Cole's powerful vocals, Johnston's energetic banjo, Brock's virtuosic mandolin, and Burwell's soul-stirring fiddle leads to a unique sound that resonates deeply with audiences. Their ability to draw from traditional bluegrass roots while infusing their own individual styles results in a dynamic and engaging performance. The interplay of their instruments and voices creates a rich tapestry of sound that is both timeless and fresh. From Meador's evocative storytelling to Cole's commanding stage presence, each member contributes a crucial element to the group's distinctive style. This eclectic blend of enthusiasm, respect for the sound, and personal style is what sets Authentic Unlimited apart, making their music a true original in the world of bluegrass.


Awards and Acclaim: Authentic Unlimited's Trailblazing Accolades


Authentic Unlimited is not just another bluegrass band; they are on the rise, and their achievements speak for themselves. They were crowned Vocal Group of the Year and New Artist of the Year at the 2023 International Bluegrass Music Association Awards. These recognitions are a testament to their exceptional talent and growing popularity in the bluegrass world. We know this group is one we’ll remember “way back when” they played for us in Dumplin Valley.



Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival Experience


Now, here's the exciting part: you can experience Authentic Unlimited live at the Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival in Kodak, Tennessee, in September 2024. This festival is a must-attend event for every bluegrass enthusiast, and with the addition of Authentic Unlimited to the lineup, it promises to be a phenomenal experience.

Authentic Unlimited brings a powerful and energetic approach to every performance. With their combination of skill, talent, and years of experience, they offer a genuine East Tennessee feel to the beloved bluegrass genre. The band's dedication to creating a distinctive sound of music is evident in every note they play, and their passion for Gospel music's close connection with bluegrass is something that shines through in their performances.

So, fellow bluegrass fans, mark your calendars and pack your bags for the Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Festival in Kodak, Tennessee, in September 2024. It's a chance to witness the rising stars of bluegrass, Authentic Unlimited, in action, and trust me, you don't want to miss it. Let's come together, embrace the twang of the banjo, the sweet notes of the fiddle, and the heartwarming harmonies of bluegrass, all while enjoying the fresh sound of Authentic Unlimited. Get ready for an unforgettable experience that'll have you toe-tapping and clapping your hands with fellow bluegrass lovers. We'll see you there!


Join the Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Community


We're thrilled to have Authentic Unlimited in all their glory for 2024, and we want you to be a part of this unforgettable experience. Here's what you can do:


1. Follow Follow Authentic Unlimited on Social Media: Stay up-to-date with the latest news, tour dates, and behind-the-scenes glimpses of the band's musical journey.


2. Join the Dumplin Valley Bluegrass Facebook Page: Be a part of our vibrant online community where fellow bluegrass enthusiasts share their love for the genre. Get updates on the festival, interact with fellow fans, and stay in the loop.


3. Reserve Your Campsite for 2024: There's no better way to immerse yourself in the bluegrass experience than by camping at Dumplin Valley. Wake up to the sounds of nature and spend your days surrounded by the music you love.


4. Grab Your Weekend Passes: Don't miss out on a weekend filled with world-class bluegrass performances, camaraderie, and memories that will last a lifetime. Secure your tickets now!


So, mark your calendars for September 2024, and get ready to experience bluegrass at its finest. Join us in celebrating the music we hold dear, and let's make this festival an event to remember.

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