Labor Day weekend at Lime Kiln

The Labor Day concert tradition returns to Theater at Lime Kiln on Sunday, Sept. 6, with Blues, Bluegrass and Barbeque. The evening festival begins at 6 p.m., featuring local blues band Honest Labor, solo blues artist Scott Ainslie, and Brennan Gilmore’s bluegrass band Walker’s Run.

Lime Kiln executive director Kim Renz says this is another way Lime Kiln is working with artists from the area and touring artists to create unique events for the community. “This festival is different than our spring MusicFest in many ways. We have three acts over four hours, and while all three have connections to Rockbridge County, the event also sports a regional and national flavor.”

From community concert series and local schools to the Kennedy Center and the renowned Empire Music Hall in Belfast, Northern Ireland, Scott Ainslie plays and speaks of the music he loves with passion and authority. Combining thirty years of scholarship with almost forty playing guitar, Ainslie presents a beguiling mix of the African and American roots of the Blues, in story and song.

A Phi Beta Kappa and honors graduate of Washington & Lee University, Ainslie was a leader in the North Carolina Visiting Artist Program and served on its state board from 1988-1990. He was a University of North Carolina Public Fellow in 2000 and was awarded the 20th Annual Sam Ragan Fine Arts Award by St. Andrew’s Presbyterian College. Ainslie has received numerous other awards and grants for his artistic and scholarly contributions through Blues performance, documentation, scholarship, and education.

Ainslie has three solo compact discs of traditional and contemporary blues, and is the author of Robert Johnson/At The Crossroads (1992), a book of transcriptions of the recordings of this Mississippi Blues legend with complete annotated lyrics, a brief Johnson biography and historical notes. He is also the video teacher for “Robert Johnson’s Guitar Techniques” (1997) on that Starlicks Master Sessions video lesson, recently released as a DVD. Ainslie maintains an active schedule teaching, leading workshops, writing, recording, and performing. Last season he performed at Lime Kiln in “Blues in the Bowl,” an evening with the buddy Parker Band.

Walker’s Run was formed in Rockbridge County in the late 1990s. The band traveled a long and winding path. In 2008 the band took a new turn with a line-up that includes: Brennan Gilmore on guitar and vocals; Andy Thacker on mandolin and vocals; Nick Reeb on fiddle and vocals; Zack Blatter on bass; Will Lee on banjo and vocals.

Other members of the Walker’s Run family throughout the years have included Brian Calhoun, Steve Hoke, Randall Ray, Ann Marie Calhoun, Bill Cardine, Mark Krakauer, Ben Krakauer, Buddy Wolfe, Joe Simpson, Mary Simpson, and Mary Lucey. Members of the band have performed together and with several other area ensembles around the area and at Lime Kiln. Brennan Gilmore, a Rockbridge native, now lives and works in Washington, D.C., but he often returns to play with his many musical friends.

Honest Labor is comprised of: Billy Friar on dobro, guitar and vocals; Lee Sauder on blues harp; Travis Weaver on bass and vocals. The trio takes its name from the daytime occupations of the band members and the way they approach the music. All three are skilled tradesmen. Friar is a stonemason; Sauder is a blacksmith; Weaver is an upholsterer. Sauder says they play music that is “honest and straightforward.” Friar is becoming widely known as a gifted blues singer, and the group adapts other musical styles to their acoustic blues method. They have been performing as an ensemble for four years.

Renz says this is a fitting end to the regular summer concert season at Lime Kiln. The year has been busy, and several events have sold beyond seating capacity. He believes providing meals as well as entertainment has helped make Lime Kiln a friendlier atmosphere.

“The addition of food concessions at Lime Kiln has really enhanced what we provide audiences. Generally now we grill hamburgers, hot dogs and chicken. Sometimes we sell Pizza from Pizza Hut, a we did at the Eddie From Ohio concert, and thanks to our sponsor, Todd’s Barbeque Restaurant of Buena Vista, are serving barbeque and chicken wing meals at this event.”

“The barbeque idea came from Lime Kiln board member Diana Schofield from Rockbridge Music,” said Renz. “She described barbeque festivals, where, like the Lexington Rockbridge Chamber of Commerce sells tickets to taste wine at the Food and Wine Festival, attendees taste different barbeques, and a festival winner is chosen.”

“In this case, since we are performing arts presenters, we limited the choice of food and will present three music acts. This won’t be a contest, but we’ll have four hours of high quality entertainment. This will be an evening of great music and great eats!”

Tickets are on sale at Rockbridge Music and Lexington Visitors Center or by calling the Lime Kiln office. Todd’s will begin serving at 5 p.m.

Adults: $15 in advance, $20 at the gate; Seniors: $12 in advance, $15 at the gate; Students: $8 in advance, $10 at the gate. Children 6 and under are admitted free of charge.

More information online at

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