Group of musicians at the Bear on the Square Festival in Dahlonega

Musicians at the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia

Dahlonega: Where Music Strikes Gold

Explore the rich traditions of Appalachian music with these must-sees, venues and festivals in Dahlonega.

Rooted in Appalachian culture, Dahlonega's music scene is pure gold. Locals and visitors flock to the weekend jam sessions on the Dahlonega square, where fiddles, dulcimers, a forest of banjos and even the occasional yodeler or buck dancer take center stage. The twangy sounds, handed down through the generations, echo off the mountains in this small, Northeast Georgia town that began as a gold rush settlement. Musicians began convening here with a fiddlers’ convention in the summer of 1905 when first prize was a five-dollar gold piece, and from that event, a high-lonesome soundtrack has emerged.

Located in the heart of the Northeast Georgia Mountains, the scope of the historic Dahlonega music scene provides endless entertainment for music fans of all genres. Whether you're looking to tap your feet to an acoustic dinner and a band or showcase your own banjo or fiddle skills with new folks and some of the state’s most seasoned pickers and players, Dahlonega, Georgia, welcomes you.

Guitarists at the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia
Guitarists at the Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega, Georgia

Musicians from Dahlonega

Widely recognized as a hot bed for bluegrass and folk music, the influence of the Dahlonega music scene is evident by the success of two of its locally claimed legends: Zac Brown and Corey Smith, whose country smash hits pay tribute to those mountain-made roots and music traditions. It was Brown who said, “It’s an ideal place to listen to some really outstanding music in a fun atmosphere, where you can discover new talent and hear some of the great established artists.” Other musicians who have called Dahlonega home include Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls and Widespread Panic lead singer John Bell.

Where to Enjoy Live Music in Dahlonega

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega
Bear on the Square Mountain Festival in Dahlonega

In Dahlonega, local jam circles are, by some unwritten code, welcoming and inclusive – leathery old-timers play side-by-side with kids who have studied in the Georgia Pick and Bow Traditional Music School. The weekly traditions of the Historic Vickery House and the Dahlonega Gold Museum lawn exemplify the historic spirit of past generations.

Historic Vickery House

Every Friday, locals and visitors from around the world flock to the front porch of the Historic Vickery House to experience traditional music of Appalachia at the famous Pick and Porch Old Time Music Jam. Whether you’re a world-renowned rock star, traveling blues band, or someone who strictly sings in the shower, this “come one, come all” atmosphere encourages participation from musicians of all genres, skill levels, and experience.

Dahlonega Gold Museum

In carrying on a tradition dating back to 1905 where fiddlers would convene in hopes of winning the first-place prize of a five-dollar gold piece, the Dahlonega Gold Museum lawn offers jam sessions to any and all looking to celebrate the sounds past down from generation to generation. Located in the center of Dahlonega square, this one-of-a kind experience is offered most Saturdays and gives visitors the opportunity to not only experience musical magic but participate, as well.

Bear on the Square Mountain Festival

The annual Bear on the Square Mountain Festival is one of Dahlonega's most anticipated annual events. Visitors from near and far flock to the Public Square for an unforgettable spring weekend of non-stop live performances and endless bluegrass jam sessions (day and night). In addition to the live performances and open jam sessions, the festival offers an incredible variety of activities for all ages, including a Sunday morning gospel jam, musical workshops and a “heritage center” for anyone looking to expand their musical knowledge.

The Crimson Moon live music venue in Dahlonega, Georgia
The Crimson Moon in Dahlonega, Georgia

The Crimson Moon

The culture and traditions of the Dahlonega music scene also can be found at the famous The Crimson Moon. Referred to as the “Southeast’s Premier Listening Venue,” The Crimson Moon is an intimate 75-seat venue that offers live acoustic performances all of genres of music. Open daily and located in the second oldest building in Dahlonega, this unique coffee house offers performers an intimate setting of close listeners.

Festivals & More Great Music in Dahlonega

Other Dahlonega music nuggets include Downtown’s First Friday Concert Series; the family-friendly, music-filled HemlockFest on the 50-acre Starbridge Retreat; the jewel box Historic Holly Theater and the Gold Rush Days Festival in October, where you can find peak fall colors and more homegrown mountain music.

As Corey Smith sings in his hit song “Dahlonega,”
I've struck gold right here
Bury my heart and call it home.

Published: September 2019