UNION — It’s a long way from Union to Nashville — 377 miles to be exact — but Union native Robert Arthur will bring a bit of the country music capital to the Environmental Arts & Music Festival when he performs the evening of Sept. 28.
Arthur, a 1980 graduate of Union High School and former member of Brad Paisley’s band, has just released a star-studded solo album, “Caught by Surprise.” Guests on the album include his former boss Brad Paisley, Eric Johnson, Phil Keaggy and Jack Pearson.
But his roots are in Union. Arthur is the son of the late James and Jane Arthur and his brother, Gibby Arthur, as well as several extended family members, still lives in Union. His two siblings are the late Jimmy Arthur, and Amy Arthur Kosanovic, of Murfreesboro, TN.
Arthur graduated from the University of South Carolina in 1984 with a BA in music. He came back to Union and performed in churches and community events and taught guitar to many.
“I loved Union and I still do, but I knew I had come as far as I could there,” he said in a recent interview. “I thought about moving to New York or Los Angelos, but those aren’t my kind of towns, so I moved to Nashville in 1992 to pursue a career in music.”
A guitarist and songwriter, Arthur has earned success with more than 100 songs recorded in multiple genres. Artists Brad Paisley, Chris Young, Trace Adkins, Mark Chestnutt and others have recorded his songs and he’s received a Grammy nomination.
“As a touring guitarist I’ve traveled extensively, playing with many artists including Brad Paisley, Jeff Bates and the Henningsen’s,” he said. “In the studio I have played on hundreds of sessions for various artists and songwriters as well. I’ve been very blessed.”
But most recently, his guitar instrumental EP, “Caught by Surprise,” is gaining attention.
“It’s a multi-genre record featuring four of my guitar heroes and friends — Brad Paisley, Eric Johnson, Phil Keaggy, and Jack Pearson,” he said.
“I can’t wait to get back to Union,” he said. “I’ve wanted to do a hometown concert for a while and I’m excited to be there. I’ll do a combination of songs and storytelling, and look forward to seeing lots of old friends.”
Quest, one of Union’s best known bands, will open for Arthur beginning at 7 pm. Arthur will take the stage around 8 pm, and will jam with Quest to close the performance around 9 or 9:30 p.m.
Quest is a five-member band playing top 40 hits from all genres and several eras. They’ve been playing together for 20 years and are known for fun, upbeat and entertaining shows. All five sing and harmonize, and they play all over the upstate.
Quest includes: Lauren Fowler, Ronnie Ivey, Donnie Ivey, Scotty Silvers and Phil Gough.
Union’s Jordan Lawson will also bring music to the festival with his acoustic guitar during lunch on Sept. 28, from noon-2 p.m.
Music is a big part of Friday’s Festival schedule as well. Popular bluegrass band Tri County Express will play from 5-7 p.m. on Friday, September 27, followed by local rock band Dazed Renegade.
Tri County Express
Tri County Express is local/regional and they love bluegrass. The band includes Jimmy Swearingen, from Blair, SC, guitar/lead vocals; Zem Lemhouse, from Rock Hill, fiddle/lead vocals; Steve Henson, from Chester, mandolin/lead and tenor vocals; Tony Helms, from Chester, upright bass; Bob Love, from Union, lead guitar/tenor and baritone vocals; and Phillip Arnold, from Union, banjo/lead vocals and baritone.
“Jimmy is a ‘die hard’ bluegrass musician,” Arnold said. “I think he knows every bluegrass song ever played. His excitement and smiles on stage will give it away. He’s been an active stage performer since 1998 playing with several bluegrass bands.”
And Lemhouse began playing the violin at 7 years old and trained classically at Winthrop University. Over the last nine years he has been studying traditional, old time Scottish, Irish and Celtic fiddle music.
Henson is a master artisan and luthier. He built the mandolin he plays and builds for other clients as well. As a high tenor, he hits those top notes that really bring in true bluegrass harmony. Helms is a bluegrass bass legend in upstate SC. He has performed with many bluegrass bands in our area, and has a natural talent for rhythm, beat and tone as well as musical arranging.
Love is a talented musician who can play several instruments and sing any part. He’s played is several bluegrass bands and is an energetic entertainer. Arnold is a self-taught banjo player with a great ear for arranging as well. His music includes the influences of Ernest Scruggs, but even more, his years “in the woodshed coming up with what sounded good” to him.
Dazed Renegade, a popular Union band with more than 30 years of combined experience, will follow Tri County Express. The band formed in 2014 and performs a great blend of 90’s alternative and southern rock.
Think Tom Petty, the Rolling Stones, Pearl Jam, The Smashing Pumpkins and Alice in Chains, all inspirations for the band.
“We are a culmination of musicians from several different cover and original bands in which each had a different musical style,” said band member Tucker Mabry. “This brought forth our unique/original sound. Our goal is to put a footprint on the Upstate and beyond with our brand of rock and roll.”
Dazed Renegade is: Tucker Mabry, vocals/,guitar, Jesse Gregory, lead guitar, Carl Alexander, bass, and Allen Mitchell, drums.
Music performances will take place on the Walmart Music Stage in Patrons Park off Main Street. All performances are free and open to the community. Please bring blankets and/or chairs for seating and join us both nights for a great variety of performances.
This story courtesy of the Environmental Art & Music Festival.