The countdown is on.
It’s about a month until the “plum drops” and the streets of downtown Johnson City fill with the sounds of live music and the smells of fresh festival fare.
“Get ready for one jam packed fun weekend,” said David Pennington, executive director of the Blue Plum Festival, scheduled for June 1-3.
The music lineups for all four stages have been released, and other well-known Blue Plum events like the 5K and cornhole tournament, are accepting registrations.
Three of Nashville’s most talented songwriters will headline the Main Street Stage June 2. Guy Clark and Verlon Thompson are joining together for a special performance, followed by a set from Darrell Scott and The Brothers to finish the Saturday night festivities.
Sol Driven Train, a five-piece southern roots group from Charleston, S.C, and Americana legend Goose Creek Symphony will take the final slots on the Main Street Stage June 1.
The Roan Street Stage will house about 11 local acts between June 1-2, including the unique rock style of The Black Cadillacs from Knoxville, plus bluegrass samplings by Johnson City-based Little Chicago and Appalachian punk produced by Sevierville’s Cutthroat Shamrock.
Festival goers will also be able to groove to the smooth melodies of pianist Lenore Raphael and saxophonist Keith McKelley, both headliners of the Blue Plum Jazz Stage.
The stage will increase in size this year to accommodate larger jazz ensembles like the Knoxville Jazz Group and Jacob Tipton Trio.
“I’m getting a lot of comments about the music lineup,” Pennington said. “People are really excited about it.”
Early planning stages for the 13th annual Blue Plum called for the deletion of the Market Street Stage, but the Trinity Arts Foundation agreed to sponsor it.
“I’m very thrilled about being able to continue to the Market Street Stage,” Pennington said. “That all came about of trying to get a handle on the cost of the festival as a whole. It’s a decision we had to make and the Trinity Arts Foundation stepped up and saved it.”
On June 1, The Aaron Jaxon Band will belt out a mix of covers and original music. Contact the Militia, a metal, electronic and rock group, will top off the Saturday showcase on the Market Street Stage.
Adding to the stage’s diversity is a children’s show, Peter and the Wolf, on June 1 that Pennington says will fit nicely considering how close it will be to the kid’s area at Munsey United Methodist Church.
Although Blue Plum is musically focused, there are plenty of other activities on tap for June 1-3. Pennington says there are still openings for artists interested in competing in the Urban Art Throwdown that will take up the entire Downtown Square parking lot on June 2.
About 24 graffiti artists will spray-paint their way toward a $1,000 prize and the judges’ top picks will become public art.
The Little City Roller Girls will add some activity to the Tipton Street parking lot where they will host roller derby bouts and open skating events for children throughout the weekend.
Another new initiative for the free festival is the “Plum Green” project. Designated parking areas will be established for people who would like to park outside the festival grounds and bike into downtown. Participants will have a place to keep their bikes downtown and will be given a free T-shirt that says, “My Plum is Green.”
Planning stages for Blue Plum are complete, now it’s all about the execution.
“We’re about 95 percent there,” Pennington said. “There’s always a couple more things to do.”
For a detailed list of Blue Plum Festival performers, or additional information on events and registrations, visit www.blueplum.org.