Magic City Ragtime and Jazz Festival this weekend

Published 10:40 am Tuesday, June 18, 2024

The Bell County Historical Society, in partnership with the Bell County Chamber of Commerce and Middlesboro Main Street, presents the first ever Magic City Ragtime and Jazz Festival this weekend, June 21-23, in downtown Middlesboro. This festival will honor Ben Harney, the father of ragtime music who developed the genre while playing in saloons around Middlesboro in the early 1890s. And includes a series of events celebrating the region’s unique contribution to popular music.
The fun actually starts on Thursday, June 20, with Blair Crimmins and The Hookers headlining the opening concert of this summer’s Middlesboro Music Series on the Levitt AMP stage. Kelle Jolly and Will Boyd open the show at 6:30 p.m.
Blair Crimmins and The Hookers bring the Ragtime and traditional New Orleans Jazz sound to new younger audiences. Crimmins puts on an eclectic stage show while performing on piano, guitar, banjo, ukulele, and even accordion. He fronts the six-piece band with a smokey vocal backed by a classic horn section. While the group may sound like a page out of American history, their original lyrics have a modern twist often expressing the lamentations of an old soul living in the 21st century.

Friday, June 21

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The festival will kick off in earnest on Friday, June 21, with the Magic City Ragtime and Jazz Dinner, an enchanting evening filled with nostalgia, rhythm, and community spirit. The evening begins at 6 p.m. with a cocktail hour hosted by Cambron Charcuterie Company at the historic Bell County Historical Society Museum. Guests will enjoy a charcuterie and wine bar while exploring captivating exhibits and immersing themselves in local history.
At 7 p.m., attendees will move outdoors for an exquisite al fresco dinner in downtown Middlesboro. The dinner will feature live ragtime and jazz music, providing a charming, open-air setting to dine and mingle.
Tickets for the Magic City Ragtime and Jazz Dinner are available for purchase ( or by visiting Hearthside Bank’s Middlesboro branch. The Bell County Historical Society is proud to have Hearthside Bank as the event’s sponsor, whose generous support makes this evening possible.

Saturday, June 22

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. various locations around Middlesboro will host activities, including Appalachian agriculture at the Middlesboro Public Library, fiddle making at the Levitt Amp Stage, coopering at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church Garden, and gourd art at the Arthur Museum Garden.
At 11:00 a.m. Blair Crimmins and The Hookers will be back on the Levitt Amp Stage for the festival’s official kick-off.
Throughout the day, festival-goers can enjoy storytelling sessions by Anne Shelby and musical performances by the Braden Jones Trio, Sparks Trio, and Jackson Alley Cats at various locations.
From 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. the All That Jazz Flower Show hosted by the Middlesborough Garden Club will be going on at the Arthur Museum.
The day’s festivities will conclude with jazz performances at Ike’s and Shades on Cumberland Avenue starting at 5 p.m.

Sunday, June 23

The festival will close with a Gospel Sing Along at 9 a.m. at the Levitt Amp Stage.
For more details about the Magic City Ragtime and Jazz Festival, visit their facebook page.
This event supports the Bell County Historical Society, helping to preserve and celebrate the region’s rich heritage.