Experience the Free Range Life at the Limestone Music Festival
Three musical paths and maybe a chicken or two intersect in the classic rock band, Free Range. Billy Smith, Jeremy Drawbaugh and Seth Facundo are living the “free range life,” a phrase coined by their fans.
“The first time I performed on stage was at a music festival,” said Smith, “I got up there and knew it was where I was supposed to be. I am more myself on stage than anywhere else.”
Smith has been making music since middle school. “Ms. Sam (a.k.a. Jennifer Janzen) taught me everything I know, without me knowing it,” said Smith. “I played xylophone in the band, and when I started to learn guitar chords I figured out the guitar is laid out exactly like the xylophone and so is the piano. That’s when I found the freedom to play free-style riffs and write music – the music opened up for me.”
Seth Facundo, the band’s bass player, found his musical path as part of the audience. “When I was growing up, my mom would take me to shows. Sometimes the shows were just okay, but there were times when the band connected with the audience on a much deeper level and I knew that I needed to be part of creating that experience.”
“My mom’s dad could play anything with strings,” said Jeremy Drawbaugh, “He had seven kids and his rule was you couldn’t move out of the house until you learned to play an instrument.” Drawbaugh grew up listening to his father’s and grandfather’s bands. He sat behind his first drum set at age two.
While Free Range is primarily a cover band, they also write their own music. “In marching band, I learned how to take different songs and mix them together. Writing original music is a lot like that,” said Smith. Drawbaugh agrees, “Writing music is like putting a puzzle together -- these words, that riff, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Playing your own music can take you anywhere.”
When not on stage, the band can be found practicing in Smith’s barn. “The name Free Range is mostly about the wide variety of music we wanted to play, but there were a few chickens there for inspiration,” laughed Smith.
Experience the ‘free range life’ for yourself at the Limestone Music Festival on April 14 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Limestone County Event Center. Tickets are $10 when purchased from any East Limestone High School Band student, from Chick Fil-A of Athens or from The Village Pizza located on East Limestone Road. Tickets are also available from www.eventbrite.com. The event is presented by the East Limestone High School Band and sponsored by Andrew Kirk with Modern Woodmen of American and Chick Fil-A of Athens.
Play ball, hunt eggs and support healthy babies
on Saturdays at the park
More than 1,000 children will embrace outdoor recreation in Athens on Saturday, April 1, as baseball, softball and spring soccer seasons kick off at the Sportsplex on U.S. 31.
Baseball and softball will host opening day ceremonies with baseball starting at 9 a.m. and softball at 10 a.m. Mayor Ronnie Marks will throw the first pitch. Each team will parade around the ball field for their cheering fans.
“You don’t leave Opening Day without smiling because you see the excitement on all the children’s faces as they sport their team colors and wave to their fans,” Marks said.
Parks and Recreation Director Ben Wiley said over 500 boys signed up for baseball and 290 girls for softball. Spring soccer has 430 players.
The Parks and Recreation Department works to provide more than sports-related outdoor recreation for the community.
Wiley said Parks and Recreation is collaborating with Baby Jake’s Buddies for a March of Dimes event on Saturday, April 8, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Swan Creek Park by Athens High School. There will be a moon bounce, face painting, live bands and vendors.
For more information on Baby Jake’s Buddies go online at https://www.facebook.com/BabyJakesBuddies/.
On Easter weekend, the department is hosting the free Athens Parks and Recreation Easter Egg Hunt. The event is Saturday, April 15, from 2-4 p.m. at All Kids Park at the Sportsplex.
There will be three age categories:
● 0-4 years old at 2:30 p.m. with one parent assisting.
● 5-9 years old at 3 p.m. with one parent assisting.
● 10-13 years old at 3:30.
Children need to bring their own baskets. Those who find a golden egg will receive special prizes.
Athens, Ala. (March 10, 2017) – Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association proudly announces the return of free, guided walking tours beginning each Saturday only in the month of April. Residents and visitors are invited to take part in a casual stroll through historic Athens and/or Mooresville and learn about their history and heritage as both communities mark their bicentennial birthday.
The one-hour walking tours are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. on April 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th at the Athens’ Visitor Center meeting room, located at 100 North Beaty Street in Athens, with check in beginning at 9:45 a.m. In Mooresville, the walks will begin at 10:00 a.m. and will meet at the Post Office on Lauderdale Street each Saturday. Anyone wishing to see inside the historic Mooresville Post Office is suggested to arrive 10-15 minutes early, as it will close as scheduled at 10:00 a.m.
Teresa Todd, President of the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association said, “Athens was ranked number one in attendance last year and we hope to have the largest attendance in the state again this year.”
Knowledgeable guides will escort participants through historic neighborhoods and landmarks where they will share the history of the city including history of local businesses and families, architectural styles of the homes and other colorful moments in the community’s history.
Mooresville is the oldest town in the State of Alabama with the oldest continuous working post office. You can tour the six streets of homes and the famous 1818 Farm during your tour. The entire one-square mile town of Mooresville is on the National Historical Registry.
The six areas offered for tours in Athens are:
Historic Beaty District
Historic Houston District
Old Athens Cemetery
Historic Downtown Square
Alabama Veterans Museum and Archives
Athens State University
Reservations are not required and tours are held rain or shine. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes for walking on a variety of surfaces. Tours take from one to two hours to complete.
For more information, call 256-232-5411
Wild Parsley to Play at the Limestone Music Festival
An engineer, a creative spirit, a big move, a great romance, two supportive spouses, five children, a ministry, demanding careers and a love of music combine to form the joyful harmony of Wild Parsley, a duet featuring Anna Shirey and Bryan Davenport. Wild Parsley will perform at the Limestone Music Festival on April 14 beginning at 7 p.m. at the Limestone County Event Center. Tickets are $10 and may be purchased from any ELHS Band student, from Chick Fil-A of Athens and from The Village Pizza of East Limestone. Tickets are also available online here .
An ad on Craig’s List brought this duet together. “My Mom was horrified when I told her I was going to meet a musician that I found in an ad on Craig’s List,” said Shirey, “but when we sang together, we clicked.” Davenport laughed, “I am very busy with work and family, but I wanted to get back to the music and I figured Craig’s List was a good way to start, and it worked!”
Davenport, a chemical engineer grew up in a home filled with music. “My brother, is a gifted classical pianist. He was probably my earliest musical inspiration, he was always playing.” Davenport is proof of the music-math link. “I love to play, and while I don’t write music, I can pretty much cover anything I hear acoustically.” Shirey grew up singing in Church. “There’s something about a song that has a special truth and freedom,” she said, “there’s nothing else that allows you to convey a feeling so completely.”
Learn more about Wild Parsley and the Limestone Music Festival on Facebook at 'Limestone Music Festival' or on Twitter @LCALMusicFest. The Limestone Music Festival is presented by the East Limestone High School Marching Band. All proceeds from the event go to support the band and County for a Cure, an American Cancer Society Relay for Life program. Sponsors for the event are Andrew Kirk, Financial Advisor for Modern Woodmen of America and Chick Fil-A of Athens.
People in Athens are finding rocks painted with everything from geometric designs to Transformers to words of wisdom.
Roberta Ress, an artist with High Cotton Arts, started the painted rock project on March 18 with the Athens ROCKS kickoff event. Children and adults painted rocks and hid them in public places around Athens. Now, couples dining on The Square, business owners and walkers are finding the painted rocks in planters downtown, around the Courthouse and at Big Spring Memorial Park.
As people find a rock, they are encouraged to post a photo on the Athens ROCKS Facebook page of their find and then to re-hide it.
Athens and Limestone County are embarking on their 200th birthday in 2018. The State of Alabama, which turns 200 in 2019, is hosting a three-year celebration, and Athens and Limestone County are participating. The 2017 statewide theme is “Explore Our Places.” Athens ROCKS is a way to encourage families to sightsee and explore their own community.
“The Athens ROCKS project highlights that art is fun and art is educational,” said Athens Arts League Board President Amy Golden. “Tying the project into part of our local Bicentennial celebrations is a fabulous way to encourage citizens to learn more about their own city and enjoy creating their own piece of art.”
High Cotton Arts is located in Downtown Athens at 103 West Washington Street. Athens Arts League operates the non-profit arts incubator to support artists, provide art education and bring cultural events to the community.
Appalachian music meets outlaw country at Listening Lounge event
High Cotton Arts will host a free concert for the community during the monthly Listening Lounge.
Birmingham-based Matthew Hoyle and The Tall Order will perform on Tuesday, March 21, at 6:30 p.m. The band touts itself as Appalachian roots music and outlaw country. The band’s influences include Willie Nelson, Doc Watson, John Prine and Johnny Cash.
Athens Arts League hosts the monthly Listening Lounge for the community, alternating events for music and the spoken word.
Athens Arts League’s mission is to support artists, provide art education, and bring cultural events to Athens and Limestone County.
Those who attend the concert can also browse studio artists’ spaces and purchase locally made art.
To stay updated on the Listening Lounge and other events, follow High Cotton Arts and Athens Arts League on Facebook or go to www.athensartsleague.com.
ATHENS, AL - On March 3, 1817, as officials gathered beside the Tombigbee River to declare Alabama a territory and St. Stephens its capital, business was already booming at the military fort, river ports, trading posts and taverns in what would soon become Limestone County, Ala.
On March 4, 2017, as Alabama kicks off three years of celebration of the state’s bicentennial, Limestone County kicked off its own bicentennial celebrations with a history program and special events around the Limestone County Courthouse Square.
At the new Revival Center, just off the Square on West Washington Street, local historians presented "Exploring Our Places: The Early Days of Limestone and Alabama." They shared stories about the days when the Chickasaw and the elk called a place named Elk County home, when cotton barges floated down the Tennessee River from Limestone County ports, and when an enterprising businessman created an open-air bar from a split log and two barrels, and served his own brand of shine in gourds.
Athens State University Professor Dr. Harry Joiner told about the beginnings of Alabama, and Limestone County Archivist Rebekah Davis talked about the people and places who made up Limestone County leading up to its establishment on Feb. 6, 1818.
Attendees have the opportunity to browse the resource center presented by various local history groups. Throughout the day, downtown merchants featured made in Alabama and made in Athens and Limestone County items. They also offered specials, including historic foods and historic prices.
Pictured is artist Lyn Stone's depiction of Fort Hampton, the U.S. military fort established near the Elk River to protect Chickasaws from early settlers who lived here illegally.
Two Limestone County Attractions Featured on Alabama’s First GeoTour
Decatur, Ala. (March 1, 2017) – On Wednesday, March 1, 2017, the Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA) held a press conference to launch Alabama’s first official GeoTour. Created by AMLA, Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour features thirty-one geocaches hidden throughout North Alabama in an effort to attract the millions of worldwide geocachers to the region. Alabama Veterans Museum and 1818 Farms, located in Limestone County, have been selected as part of the new Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour.
Designed to attract both experienced and new geocachers, Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour features 31 attractions, historic sites and unique, locally owned places in the northern Alabama region. Of the 31 locations, 13 are existing caches and 18 are new caches. The two attractions located in Limestone County included on the new GeoTour are Alabama Veterans Museum and 1818 Farms.
Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour has its own page on geocaching.com, which lists the participating geocaches. Geocachers use a GPS device or the Geocaching app on their smartphone to navigate to a set of GPS coordinates and then attempt to find a hidden geocache container. Each cache will contain a point value that participants will record in a passport (downloadable on www.northalabama.org/geocache). Participants must sign the physical cache log for each geocache find and record the find on www.geocaching.com to be eligible. The first 300 cachers who achieve 60 total points are eligible to receive Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour Geocoin, trackable on Geocaching.com. The first 100 cachers who achieve 75 total points will receive the coin and a special Dash of the Unexpected t-shirt.
“The Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour invites geocachers, whether experienced or new to the activity, to explore some of North Alabama’s unique destinations,” said AMLA President/CEO Tami Reist. “Geocaching is a fun and inexpensive way to learn about what an area has to offer. Each of the locations on the GeoTour has a compelling story to tell and when these adventure seekers visit, I believe they will be pleasantly surprised and fascinated with what they learn.”
Geocaching is a real-world, outdoor treasure hunting game played throughout the world using GPS-enabled devices. The purpose is to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, from a specific set of GPS coordinates. Once found, participants must sign the logbook provided on site and record the find on www.geocaching.com. If participants take something, they must leave something of equal or greater value for other participants. According to www.geocaching.com, the official global GPS cache hunt site, there are over 2.9 million active geocaches in over 180 countries and over three million active geocachers worldwide.
For more information on the Dash of the Unexpected GeoTour, call AMLA at 800.648.5381. For more information on geocaching in Limestone County, contact Teresa Todd with the Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association at 256.232.5411.
About Alabama Mountain Lakes Tourist Association (AMLA)
AMLA is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the promotion and development of the travel industry within the 16 northernmost counties of the state. It is supported by 500-plus members consisting of chambers of commerce, Convention & Visitors Bureaus, attractions, campgrounds, festivals, communities, counties, golf courses, restaurants, tour operators, accommodations, vendors, financial institutions and individuals. Counties included within the AMLA region are Blount, Cherokee, Colbert, Cullman, DeKalb, Etowah, Franklin, Jackson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Limestone, Madison, Marion, Marshall, Morgan and Winston. Additional information on North Alabama destinations, accommodations and special events is available from the AMLA by calling 800.648.5381 or by visiting their web site at www.NorthAlabama.org.