Great American Picnic to feature speakeasy stage, band in between bands

Published 8:11 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017

By Casey Craiger

Contributing writer

The Great American Brass Band Festival will hold one of its most popular events — The Great American Picnic— from 5 to 11:20 p.m. Saturday, June 3 at Centre College. Commonly referred to as the “social event of the year,” the picnic is expected to draw its biggest crowd yet.

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Picnic planning began early in the year and will continue right up to the day of the event, said Cody Polston, a picnic volunteer.

“Planning for the picnic begins around February and will continue through the festival weekend,” Polston said. “At that time we begin lining out caterers for our patrons who wish to purchase a table with the all-inclusive option. From that point on, we start working out the logistics of setup, inclement weather plan, and of course this year, how we will implement the speakeasy element.

The speakeasy element of this year’s festival entails 1920’s themed food, and drinks provided by brazilian spirits provider and sponsor Ambrabev. The Danville-based company currently sells three flavors of Boteco Ultra-Premium Cane Vodka, original, berry, and lime. The three vodka flavors can be combined with other elements to create many different cocktails including Caprioska, Vela, Electrico, Brazilian Tea, Cosmopolita, and TBD.

The beverages will be accompanied by music from Billy Goat Strut Revue on the Speak Easy Stage by Walnut Street between Main Stage performances from the University of Alabama Trombone Choir, Advocate Brass Band, Southern Stars Symphonic Brass Band, Boston Brass, Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass, and Lowdown Brass.

The Kentucky native band Billy Goat Strut Revue is a six piece band consisting of Laura Ellis, Peter Klarman, Allison Cross, Amos Hopkins, Mark Hamilton, and Zach Driscoll have created bourbon jazz since their founding in 2011. The band covers songs from jazz legends such as Billie Holiday, Sidney Bechet, Bessie Smith, Django Reinhardt, Louis Armstrong and Cab Calloway. Their antique jazz sound earned them two consecutive Cover Band of the Year titles from the Louisville Music Awards in 2012 and 2013.

Picnic patrons gather every year at the annual event to celebrate brass music. Tables are set up on Centre’s lawn and attendees can decorate their tables for a chance to win prizes. The most creative table will be selected this year on the basis of the theme of “The Roaring Twenties.”

The table judging will be performed by The Garden Club of Danville from 6 to 7 p.m. and the winners will be announced shortly after that.

The picnic is the Brass Band Festival’s greatest fundraiser. Tables can be purchased for $150 and there are a variety of options for participants, including catering and decorations.

Participants can have their tables catered this year by many restaurants, including Cue on Main, Jane Barleycorn’s Bar and Bistro and Danielle’s Drive-Away Cafe. Beer, wine, champagne and other libations will also be available for purchase.

“The picnic is a family friendly event, so all ages are welcome and encouraged to attend. Our lineup this year includes performers such as Wycliffe Gordon, Rodney Marsalis, Philadelphia Big Brass, Storyville Stompers and Billy Goat Strut Revue just to name a few,” Polston said.

Picnic tables for the Great American Brass Band picnic, happening on June 3, are now up for grabs. Tables are 96×30 inches and come with eight chairs. No extra chairs are permitted. Tables will be available from 5 p.m.-11:20 p.m. and cost $150. Inclusive table options include Cue on Main, Jane Barleycorn’s Bar & Bistro, and Daniel’s Drive Away Cafe. For full details on these table options, visit Picnic patrons who purchase an inclusive table option will receive an email just before the picnic with times and details related to catering.