J.D. Shelburne to sing a ‘Neon Hallelujah’ at Pioneer Festival

Published 4:15 pm Friday, September 1, 2023

JD Shelburne might hail from Taylorsville – a town of under 2,000 residents in Spencer County.

Yet on Sept. 2nd, he’ll hit the stage in Winchester as the 44th Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival headliner.

The rising country music star and Nashville recording artist, who just released his sixth studio album, “Neon Hallelujah”, will play to the Clark County crowd from 7-10 p.m. outside of the Clark County Courthouse.

Email newsletter signup

“I am looking forward to performing at the Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival for the first time in my career. Many artists have headlined this event that have [gone] on to become a big success in the industry”, wrote Shelburne in correspondence with The Winchester Sun. “I am looking forward to adding my name to that list and hopefully following in their footsteps. I certainly look forward to performing for the great people of Winchester, KY, [sic] for the first time.”

Shelburne’s most recent album includes a wide selection of musical choices, such as the title track “Neon Hallelujah,” the song “That Devil in Me,” and Shelburne’s rendition of the classic hymn “Amazing Grace,” featuring The Oak Ridge Boys – a three-time Grammy Award-winning quartet.

Wallace “Gator” Harrison, who helps bring different music acts to Winchester for the Pioneer Festival, spoke positively of Shelburne’s reputation.

“[He] just completed a show at The Kentucky State Fair with The Oak Ridge Boys. He’s definitely a big-time guy and getting ready to move up on the charts,” Harrison said.

Harrison, who often helps oversee audio production for events around town, is far from the only person of musical background to notice Shelburne.

In a news release, seven-time Grammy Award winner and Country Music Hall of Fame member Randy Travis said the following.

“’Neon Hallelujah’ is an album that takes me back to my ‘Storms of Life’ – a collection of songs that were the stories of our lives. JD Shelburne pours out his passion for family, faith, farm-life, and friendship in the ‘grooves’ of this one! It takes you down the country backroads to the tobacco fields of Taylorsville, KY, where a young talent was being honed. Not only a great singer, songwriter, and entertainer; but JD is kind, charismatic, and captivating in person. Love the man…enjoy his music!”

Even before Shelburne hits the stage, fans are in for a treat.

Opening for him will be the Jon Curtis and Brian Moore team, a piano and guitar duo playing music from the 1960s to the present day in many genres.

Harrison expects a large crowd for Shelburne’s performance.

“I’m really looking for a huge turnout to JD Shelburne’s concert. Everywhere this guy has gone, he has sold out [performances]”, he said. “He travels quite a bit…We’re pretty well getting him right now at the start of his career.”

Local, regional musical acts to grace Pioneer Festival stage


here will be much to enjoy when the 44th Daniel Boone Pioneer Festival starts.

Among them will be a slew of musical and entertainment acts set to take place on the outdoor steps of the Clark County Courthouse.

Previously, the event had taken place at Lykins Park.

“It started out many years ago with Homer Ledford and the Cabin Creek Band,” said Walter “Gator” Harrison, who is in charge of attracting musical acts to the festival and handles audio production, stage setup, and more. “We mainly focus on our hometown entertainment, and then we bring variety in.”

The celebration begins Friday night when the band 10:50 Arrival plays from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“Their specialty is anywhere from the 60s, 70s, [and] 80s music…all the way to the 90s on some stuff,” Harrison said. “They’ll do anything from the Beatles to Pink Floyd to The Mamas and the Papas. They’re a three-piece band. They’re one family: a husband, wife, and daughter.”

The next day, music continues with the youthful Eli Holbrook – described as a “piano wizard” by Harrison – taking the stage at 10 a.m.

One hour later, at 11 a.m., Fred Keams will play.

A member of the Navajo nation, Keams – who has been featured on PBS LearningMedia – will bring flutes and play several tunes using the instrument.

Taking a break from music, a 12 p.m. talent show with prizes to be awarded will occur.

“You can sign up at the information booth there at the Pioneer Festival,” Harrison added. “We’ll be making an announcement.”

Kenny Boyd from eastern Kentucky, who – according to his Facebook page – has forever had music in both his blood and heritage, plays at 2 p.m.

Nic Cassetta, a singer-songwriter from Berea, is featured at 3 p.m.

“Some say that he is a reincarnation of Johnny Cash,” added Harrison. “He [is] very talented.”

From 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., JD Shelburne – a rising star in country music – will entertain the crowd.

One day later, the joy continues with Addie Rank playing on stage at 10 a.m., featuring folk music, Americana, and more.

After singer-songwriter Lark Watts completes his 11 a.m. performance, the award-winning Ron Crowder performs at noon.

At 1 p.m., the Panamanian-born singer-songwriter Heidys Danlys takes the stage, followed by the duo of Ian and Kevin Slusher at 2 p.m.

The latter is expected to take on country music, play cover songs, and more.

At 3 p.m., musician Hannah May is scheduled to play, showcasing folk music.

The weekend’s musical festivities conclude at 4:00 p.m. with Jon Curtis, who will also serve one night earlier along with Brian Moore as the opening act for Shelburne’s performance.

According to Harrison, who has previously helped set up music for the Pioneer Festival, the event can serve as a breeding ground for artists.

Previous performers include Keith Urban, who has since received four Grammy Awards and sixteen Academy of Country Music Awards.

“When we booked Keith Urban at [the] Pioneer Festival, nobody knew who [he] was,” Harrison said. “Two weeks before the festival hit, his song ‘Where the Blacktop Ends’ hit number one. Then everybody knew who he was.”

Others have showcased their skills at different competitions.

“We have a lot of people that have been on ‘The Voice,’ [and] some people that have been on ‘America’s Got Talent,’” he said.

However, with so much central and eastern Kentucky talent available, Harrison focuses less on the national stage.

“I like to really look around our community and pull our musicians in to play their festival here in their community,” Harrison said. “Our local talent loves to play. We’re all friends. We all know each other, and all the musicians lift each other up.”