Music on the Square is coming back to Jonesborough.
After more than a year’s absence, the event was recently picked up by the town to make sure it continues entertaining guests and locals alike.
“For over 20 years, one of the Town of Jonesborough’s greatest events, Music on the Square, has attracted hundreds of visitors each Friday from May through October,” Jonesborough Mayor Chuck Vest told the Herald & Tribune this week. “This year we will kick-off our season on July 9, choosing to begin after our Jonesborough Days celebration. We should see several thousand people enjoy this iconic and entertaining event.”
Popular local musician Trey Hensley is already booked for the July 9 launch.
A popular weekly concert series that was typically held beginning in May each year, Music on the Square got its start back in 1998 when Steve Cook, a local craftsman and musician, wanted to bring the sound of music to downtown.
When Cook decided to step down from Music on the Square earlier this year, Vest said, the town became concerned about the future of the much-loved event.
Fortunately, for Jonesborough, the show will go on.
“Mr. Cook announced his retirement in April this year and our community is so thankful for all his efforts and the successful events he led and planned,” Vest said.
Sam Love, he said, will be stepping in to take on Cook’s former role.
“We were fortunate to have Sam Love hired to lead our successful Sunday event, Brews & Tunes,” Vest said. “Sam has been active in Johnson City and our region’s music community so he has the experience and enthusiasm necessary to find attractive performers and bands. So, asking and hiring Sam to do the same for MOTS was an easy decision. We see this as an opportunity to pump new energy into this iconic town event.”
Jonesborough’s Tourism and Main Street Director Cameo Waters agrees.
Love, she said, “is great at what he does and works closely with the bands.”
“We always book crowd favorites but toss new bands into the mix as well” Waters said, stressing how important a relationship with the bands is for the MOTS director role. “Sam assisted in the opening of the Willow Tree in January of 2014. He was the sound engineer at the venue for over four years and assisted in booking and event planning. Since that time, Love has utilized his technical skills at various venues in Johnson City. He was part of the production crew for the 2019 Louie Bluie Festival, and the production crew for the 2019 Rhythm and Blooms Festival. He was hired on the production crew for the Big Ears Festival in 2020 before they canceled due to the pandemic. Through his experience, he has gained valuable knowledge to set him up for success as MOTS director and sound engineer.”
The returning MOTS will take place each week on Friday evenings beginning July 9 from 7 to 9 p.m. in front of the downtown courthouse, with Main Street blocked off to through-traffic. Attendees are invited to bring lawn chairs or a blanket. The following for Music on the Square is indeed quite large, with around 10,000 guests throughout the season.
“We hold a lot of events in Jonesborough, but Music on the Square is one of the most beloved. There is a large and devoted fan base that follow the concert series. I’ve always heard folks say, if there was a GPS on the lawn chairs, you’d find them to be in the same spot every Friday night at Music on the Square,” Waters said.
“This event is free and open to the public, but we do ‘pass the hat’ to offset costs. It is always encouraged to come early, do some shopping downtown and grab a bite to eat,” she added. “One thing locals and visitors love about Music on the Square is being able to experience live music with the townscape of downtown Jonesborough as the setting.”
With Historic Jonesborough as the backdrop, local and regional bands, storytellers, poets and performance artists take over Main Street while live concerts with a variety of music for everyone such as Americana, bluegrass, Celtic, Irish, old-time, blues and jazz gives the community a chance to bring out the family to enjoy a night of entertainment in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains.
There is typically one act each night, but sometimes there is an opener.
“This outdoor and Main Street event is Americana at its best, rewarding attendees with a beautiful and safe evening downtown featuring local and regional bands and performers. We’ve been fortunate over the years with cooperative weather but we do have indoor venues it can move to if weather demands. Let’s hope the weather continues to cooperate because the atmosphere is so special on the courthouse square,” Vest said.
Music lovers can also explore the many unique restaurants and “shop local” at any of the shops that stay open during the event.
“We prefer to keep MOTS an event focusing on music and fellowship but also a financial opportunity for our merchants. Attendees could still find random food trucks and activities if our Tourism and Marketing team finds them beneficial,” Vest said.
For more information on Music on the Square, call the Historic Jonesborough Center at (423) 753-1010.