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Monday August 24, 2015

Great beer and rockin’ live music will join forces when the first annual Brewster Walk Craft Beer Festival & Concerts takes place on Saturday, Oct. 10th in Uptown Martinsville.

The event, put on by the same non-profit group that produces the Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival in Martinsville, will feature roughly 50 different craft beers and three bands: The Chris Duarte Group, Wild Ponies (formerly known as Doug & Telisha Williams) and Junto.

Organizers are hoping the daytime street party will also help promote the city’s historic downtown area, which is called “Uptown Martinsville” by locals.


The section of East Church Street directly in front of the Rives Theatre will be blocked to thru traffic for the day, allowing a large portable stage to be erected. The stage will straddle the middle of the road, and each brewery will have two to four different craft beers available to sample or purchase. Organizers are expecting at least 20 different breweries to participate.

“We’re really excited about bringing Uptown Martinsville its first craft beer festival, complete with three great bands that have strong local followings,” said Johnny Buck, co-founder of Rooster Walk Inc., the nonprofit putting on Brewster Walk. “We see this as a great way to help promote the businesses and attractions unique to Martinsville-Henry County, and especially those located in Uptown Martinsville. Our goal is to sell all 600 tickets in advance and donate $7,500 to local charities from proceeds raised by this one-day event.”

Two food vendors will also set up at the event, though Buck also expects some of the festival’s attendees to eat at one of the locally-owned restaurants within walking distance of the stage.

Free “walking maps” of uptown Martinsville will be distributed in hopes that attendees will venture by foot to eat and shop uptown. Ticket buyers who take a walk through Uptown can also enter a raffle for the chance to win tickets to the Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival, held each May at Pop’s Farm in Axton.

“The details aren’t set in stone yet, but we plan on doing something similar to a scavenger hunt or ‘passport booklet’ that helps drive foot traffic to the local shops and nonprofits in Uptown,” said Buck. “Once you’ve visited a certain number of these attractions, you’ll be able to enter the raffle for free. The winner will be drawn that day, and the ticket package will be worth several hundred dollars.”


One of the beautiful things about a craft beer festival is the chance to try out new beers that you might not be familiar with.

General admission tickets to Brewster Walk will cost $25 each and include 15 beer vouchers, as well as a commemorative sampling glass. VIP tickets will cost $45 each and include 25 beer vouchers, the commemorative sampling glass and entry into to the Rives Theatre, which will serve as the event’s VIP Hospitality Area. VIP ticket holders will also be admitted to the event beginning at 1 p.m., while general admission ticket holders will not be admitted until 2 p.m.

Each beer voucher can be redeemed for a free, 3-ounce sample of any craft beer at the event. Or, attendees can use two tickets to get a 6-ounce pour, three tickets to receive a 9-ounce pour, and so on.

Additional beer vouchers, if needed, can be purchased on-site during the festival.

Brewster Walk tickets are sold online at www.roosterwalk.com. They can also be purchased in Martinsville from the Daily Grind Coffee House (303 E. Church St.,) and from Rising Sun Breads (1049 Brookdale St.).

Tickets for designated drivers cost just $10 each. These “D.D.” tickets, which don’t include beer vouchers, are only available online. More information can be found at www.roosterwalk.com.


Live music will start at 2:30 p.m., when Junto takes the stage. A five-piece alt-country band from Asheville, N.C., Junto is led by Win Webster on lead vocals/guitar and Jay Franck on electric mandolin. Webster and Franck, both Martinsville natives, were core members of Sanctum Sully, a popular bluegrass band that split up about 2 years ago.

Wild Ponies will take the stage at 3:45 p.m. An Americana group from Nashville, Tenn., the Wild Ponies are a three-piece band fronted by Martinsville natives Doug & Telisha Williams that received praise from the Huffington Post.

“...Comparisons to Lucinda (Williams) are inevitable, along with rough-and-tumble daring duos such as Shovels & Rope and honeyhoney, and Americana’s current power couple, recent newlyweds Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires,” read the HuffPo piece. “All of them know how to capably cover shaky ground, but exploring deep, dark places seems to come naturally for Wild Ponies.”

The music lineup will come to a wailing, rocking finish when The Chris Duarte Group hits the stage at 5:15 p.m. Led by electric guitarist Chris Duarte, the band plays a style of Texas blues-rock that draws on elements of jazz, blues, and rock and roll. Duarte, whose playing has often been compared to the late Stevie Ray Vaughan, has a brother who lives in the Martinsville Henry County area.

The songs on Duarte’s most recent release, Lucky 13, “aptly showcase many sides of this brilliant artist in the context of high energy blues rock with moments that bring to mind legendary artists as diverse as Stevie Ray Vaughan, Robin Trower, Jimi Hendrix, and Eric Johnson,” wrote Tad Smith, a music reporter for Beat Atlanta.


Just like the Rooster Walk Music & Arts Festival, Brewster Walk will be raising money for charities in the Martinsville-Henry County area. Specifically, organizers are hoping to donate a total of $,7,500 to the Penn-Shank Memorial Scholarship Fund at Martinsville High School, as well as a band instrument donation and repair program for local entry-level band students.

The instrument program encourages music fans to donate old band instruments to Rooster Walk. These instruments are then repaired to playable condition and donated to entry-level band programs in the Martinsville City or Henry County public school systems.

“No student who’s interested in starting band class should be turned away because they can’t afford an instrument,” said Buck. “Through this program, we’ll be helping the public school band programs currate a collection of instruments that are available to their youngest students. And along the same lines, there may be a kid where money isn’t the problem, it’s being unsure of what instrument they want to play. With this program, a kid could try their hand at two or three different instruments before deciding which one they want to study full-time.

Festival organizers will also have a tent at Brewster Walk for anyone interested in donating an old band instrument. Donors can receive a tax donation letter, a ticket package to a future Rooster Walk Inc., event, or a combination of the two, depending on the value of the donated instrument.

 A 501c3 community nonprofit, Rooster Walk Inc.’s mission is to “promote music, arts and education in Martinsville & Henry County.” Since the first Rooster Walk festival in 2009, the company has donated more than $80,000 to local charities. It was founded in memory of Martinsville natives Edwin “the Rooster” Penn and Walker Shank, who passed away within a year of one another while in their mid-20s.


Brewster Walk is made possible thanks to the generous support of the local business and arts communities in and around Martinsville-Henry County.

The festival’s bands will perform on a portable stage that Rooster Walk Inc. purchased through a grant from the Harvest Foundation. In addition, BB&T had already pledged to serve as a presenting sponsor by mid-August (when this article was written), and HomeTrust Bank, VisitMartinsville.com, Serenity Cabinets & Millwork, QuarterDeck and Studio 107 were also on board as sponsors of the event.

“We’re hoping for a sellout in advance and great weather on Oct. 10th,” said Buck. “But beyond that, we’re hoping that Brewster Walk becomes an annual fall staple for Uptown Martinsville. We’d like nothing more than to see this beer festival grow in attendance and footprint over the coming years. We’ve seen it happen in other cities around us, and there’s absolutely no reason it can’t be done in Martinsville.”


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