CUMBERLAND GAP — On Saturday May 8, from 1 p.m. – 6:30 p.m., the Guardians of the Gap will present the Western Door Music Festival in partnership with Papa Chum’s Music and Rarities.

Guardians of the Gap, a non-profit organization established in early 2020, has delivered concerts, dance parties, public art projects, and preservation initiatives through an inspiring collective action that is drawing loads of positive attention to the historic town, a release says. This event will headline Abe Partridge, a dynamic artist, singer songwriter, veteran, and former Middlesboro resident.

Headliner Abe Partridge is all about the live performance, the release says.

“Playing for people, striking a chord with people, for me that’s what it’s really all about,” he says. “It’s like with preaching, you need to reach them emotionally, you need to make a connection, to make people feel and believe. That’s always what I’ve wanted to do.”

Described as a troubadour, Partridge draws listeners in with a combination of southern gothic storytelling and a dark humor reminiscent of the late Townes Van Zandt, delivered in a gravelly tone that conjures up images of Tom Waits in his barstool warming days. According to American Songwriter Magazine, “Abe Partridge has established himself as one of the most respected songwriters and visual folk artists in the Southeast.”

Organizers say they love using the elevated porch of Gertie’s Commissary, which will serve as the mainstage of the Western Door Festival. Folks can bring their lawn chairs and settle alongside the creek in the field across from Gap Creek Coffee House, the release says. The festival will open at 1 p.m. with sets from local talent like Laurie Anne Armour, Daniel Chumley, LB Beistad, and Levi Cadle. The headline performance from Abe Partridge will take place at 5 p.m.

The festival is the result of a powerful partnership between Guardians of the Gap, Bell County Tourism, Tom Hopkins, and Papa Chum’s Music and Rarities. Papa Chum’s is an eclectic shop selling musical instruments, vinyl records, artisanal soaps, and much more. Owned and operated by the father-son team Danny and Daniel Chumley, the store serves as a hub for local musicians of all genres and ages. The Chumley’s skill and connections to the regional music scene have helped to attract artists and increase the operational capacity of events like the annual Mountain Fiesta and the annual White Lighting Festival. The Chumley family also leads the Junior Appalachian Musician program in the area, which provides local students with an instrument, a teacher, and a performance opportunity.

The community is invited to mark their calendars and make plans for a day of live music, art, and great food down in historic Cumberland Gap. Attendance is free and anyone interested should follow the Guardians of the Gap Facebook page for updates and information on future programming.

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