BLAIRSVILLE, Ga. – In this small, picturesque North Georgia town nestled in the heart of Georgia’s Blue Ridge Mountains, Friday nights are a sacred tradition for hundreds throughout the summer and early fall.
On the square, inside the historic Union County Courthouse, the former chambers turn into a mountain music venue, featuring some of the region’s best Bluegrass, Folk, and Old Time artists and bands from May through October. It’s a tradition that has stood for decades – and a tradition that has always concluded each year with a Skillet Licker performance on the last Friday in October.
“The band looked a lot different then, but I can vividly remember playing the Courthouse in the 1990’s with Art [Rosenbaum], Doug [Landress], Joe [Miller], and Russ [Tanner],” recalls Phil Tanner, guitarist and grandson of Skillet Lickers founder Gid Tanner, who also performed in the historic venue more than 75 years ago.
The Courthouse is always filled to capacity for the series finale with the Skillet Lickers each year. In fact, some fans arrive as early as three hours or more before show time to ensure they receive a prime seat in the courthouse. Employees with the Union County Historical Society, who occupy the courthouse, are known to close doors to the courthouse as early as 30-45 minutes prior to showtime due to maximum capacity, forcing some fans to listen from the downstairs lobby.
Joel Aderhold, banjo player for the group, says the passion the Blairsville crowd brings each year is not lost on the band. “The audience is always very enthusiastic and being at arms length away helps the band feel their energy.”
Aderhold also says the history of the building means a lot to the Skillet Lickers, “knowing that many of the first generation country music groups such as The Monroe Brothers, The Blue Sky Boys, and the [original] Skillet Lickers played there, adds an additional measure of enjoyment to playing there.”
“It’s certainly a highlight of the year for us… we could have a date on the calendar to play in front of thousands, but we always look forward to Blairsville,” says Russ Tanner, band leader and fourth-generation Skillet Licker. “It really is our favorite night of the year, next to Christmas Eve. The people are so hosptiable, so much fun to play for, and they’re not going to want to miss out on this year’s show. We may just have a surprise that everyone will want to see and hear.”
The Skillet Lickers, now in their 94th year, will perform at the historic Union County Courthouse, located at 1 Town Square, Blairsville, GA on Friday, October 25, 2019, beginning at 7 p.m. Admission is free, however, fans are encouraged to arrive early to ensure seating.