Performers with Jackson County roots give local flavor to inaugural festival


Stephanie Lambring recorded a full-length album and toured in the United Kingdom and has had a successful songwriting career.

Don Pedigo worked with well-known musicians to hone his skills, leading to a well-received first album, performances with music legends and hosting a weekly live music show in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.

John Whitcomb was in a band that shared billings with music greats and now is working on a solo album of jazz and blues sounds reminiscent of the ‘30s and ‘40s era.

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Joe Persinger started playing during the folk music craze of the 1960s and has a new CD coming out soon.

While their lives have revolved around music in different ways, they all have one thing in common: Jackson County roots.

Being among the performers during the inaugural Crossroads Acoustic Fest in downtown Seymour on Friday and Saturday nights, they now have something else in common.

They all relished the opportunity to play for their hometown fans and also generate new followers.

“It would have been so cool to have that growing up,” said Lambring, a Freetown native who now lives in Nashville, Tennessee. “I’m really excited for the kids to have that experience because I would have been at this festival every day because it’s singer-songwriter style, and that’s my favorite kind of music.”

Pedigo, also a Freetown native who now calls Nashville home, admitted it’s easier for him to perform in front of 20,000 people that he doesn’t know than it is playing for people who know him.

“When you’re a little kid, your teachers and people you grew up around, that’s who you look to for acceptance, someone to nod their head yes,” he said. “So when you come back home, it’s like a room full of those people. If I’m in a room full of strangers I don’t know, I may never see you again. But coming here, I know almost everybody.”

As he has gotten older, though, he said it has become easier, and he just makes sure he is prepared.

“I’m glad that I spent a lot of time practicing so by the time I got here, I was ready to be myself,” he said. “Over time, I’ve relaxed, and it’s like I really just love being here with everybody. They’ve supported me all of this time, and to bring something back home, it really does mean a lot to me. I’ve been over the moon about it.”

Whitcomb was born and raised in Seymour and has called Nashville, Indiana, home for 25 years.

He said it was a privilege to be asked to perform at the festival, which featured 20 acts playing at three downtown venues — Rails Craft Brew & Eatery, the Fraternal Order of Eagles Aerie 655 and the Jackson County Visitor Center.

“I was like, ‘Golly, they could have picked whoever,’” Whitcomb said. “I just felt really blessed, and I was privileged to be able to do it.”

Persinger was a late addition to the lineup. Since the idea for the festival was brought up about two years ago, he had been a part of the organizing committee.

“I had no expectation of doing anything other than maybe checking wristbands at the door or whatever,” said the Brownstown native who now lives in Seymour.

Early last week, fellow committee member Shawn Busby texted him asking if he wanted to play a few songs with Whitcomb on Saturday.

“I’m like, ‘Whoa! Yeah, sure.’ It was not something I was expecting, for sure,” he said.

“Our whole thing in putting this together was we wanted touring professionals. Here I’m an old retired guy that just comes out in the summertime and does a few shows,” he said, smiling. “That’s why I was kind of stunned when Shawn texted me.”

Lambring said she makes it back to Jackson County every few months to visit family, but more than five years have passed since she last performed here.

She worked as a staff writer for BMG and Carnival Music in Nashville until deciding a couple of years ago to take a break from songwriting and performing. She’s just now getting back into it.

“This year in general, I’m writing more and playing out more and kind of rediscovering that creativity,” she said.

Despite living in the same city, Lambring and Pedigo haven’t crossed paths. On Friday night, they shared the same stage for the first time in 10 years, taking turns singing at the visitor center.

“I was really looking forward to being onstage with her,” Pedigo said. “In some sort of way, I feel like a little bit of a big brother watching her. She’s doing great.”

Pedigo said he makes most of his money as a master electrician overseeing five employees. He also plays music, writes songs and runs his radio show.

Coming from a small town, Pedigo said he’s appreciative of the success he has had in life.

“A lot of people never feel like they have that,” he said. “You have to accept that in your own heart, and when I started doing that, I kind of gave up on the vanity of being a rock star. Once I started doing that, everything I ever dreamed of started coming together.”

Gigs keep coming his way, and he’s now working with a “dream producer,” so life is good for Pedigo.

“The personal interaction when I’m performing, that means more to me than anything,” he said. “It’s a wholesome thing. It’s heartwarming to see people enjoying (the music). Art is not complete without the observer. A lot of artists get in their own thing, and they forget that these people came here to support them, and you’ve got to open the door. When I opened the door, man, the floodgates just opened up, so every day, I’m grateful.”

Having performed for years, Whitcomb said it was great to be a part of a festival that focused on a listening room environment. The quietness of the audience allowed them to take in the lyrics.

“When you can get intimate and have a good back and forth with the audience, that’s the key right there,” he said.

With most of the festival’s performers being lyric- or story-oriented, Persinger said it was all about sharing the music with others.

There wasn’t a band to drown out the singers, and cellphones were turned silent. It was a time to sit back and enjoy the music.

“We all have pain. We all have common struggles. We all have common joys,” Lambring said. “As a songwriter, I hope that my song says, ‘I get it.’ I hope that something I sing will resonate with somebody, like that’s what they needed to hear. I think that’s what’s important.

“Different songs and different styles are going to resonate with different people,” she said. “It’s a shared human experience, and creativity is a way that lets us all kind of disconnect from our distractions and phones. They are all together in one moment probably experiencing one emotion. It’s good for the soul.”

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“I really just love being here with everybody. They’ve supported me all of this time, and to bring something back home, it really does mean a lot to me. I’ve been over the moon about it.”

Freetown native Don Pedigo said of returning to Jackson County to perform in the Crossroads Acoustic Fest in Seymour

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Learn more about the Jackson County natives

Stephanie Lambring:

Don Pedigo:,

John Whitcomb:

Joe Persinger:


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