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Jam sessions: Music Barn gets 2nd chance with new owners

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Although the Everett family doesn't own the legendary bluegrass landmark Everett's Music Barn anymore, Tommy Everett is the sound technician and helps out during events. Randall and Roger Everett built the barn in 1970. It was sold this year to the Garrett, Lybeer and Webb families after Randall and Roger both passed away.

Staff Photo: Jason Braverman. Although the Everett family doesn't own the legendary bluegrass landmark Everett's Music Barn anymore, Tommy Everett is the sound technician and helps out during events. Randall and Roger Everett built the barn in 1970. It was sold this year to the Garrett, Lybeer and Webb families after Randall and Roger both passed away.

SUWANEE -- Legendary bluegrass landmark Everett's Music Barn proudly re-opened its doors under new management, but not much in the venue has changed.

Owners Chris Lybeer, John Garrett and Kathleen Webb wanted to keep the Southern charm within the old barn.

"We were interested in preserving the institution and the traditions," Lybeer said. "Suwanee is a small town and we want to make sure the small town structure is maintained."

For decades, the Music Barn held musical gatherings for families, neighbors, and traveling bluegrass lovers every Saturday night. The shows stopped when Roger Everett, the last surviving brother, passed away in October 2010 and the music died with him.

"It was just like you lost a relative when it left ... We were all in mourning because it had been here forever," said Diane Dunaway, daughter of Leroy Everett. "During the last night, grown men were walking out crying."

The three new owners felt as though they needed to come together to purchase the closed barn and give it a second chance.

"We couldn't let the place fall in the wrong hands," Lybeer said. "We decided to take a real estate flier and it went from there."

Since the re-opening on April 16, regular visitors and new faces have been popping in weekly for friendly, family-oriented fun. To the delight of many, things have stayed the same. Folks who have been coming since the original opening in 1971 still bake cakes, fry chicken, and whip up batches of sweet tea to share with friends and complete strangers.

"We have a camaraderie like at church," Dunaway said. "We may not all be family, but we're still 'family' and we take care of each other."

Musicians of all ages gather in the farm house or on the lawn to jam on their five-string banjos, harmonicas, and fiddles -- just to name a few instruments found around the barn and the young boys have a chance to seek musical advice from the older men during the lingering nights.

Another thing that hasn't changed: The rules. "No drinking. No cussing. Be reasonably dressed."

"We kept the rules because this is a family, down-home environment," Lybeer said.

Dunaway added, "Those were my grandma's rules and we like to keep it that way. Grandma wanted it to be a family atmosphere."

Entry is free every Saturday night. When a traveling band comes through, the Barn asks for a $15 donation, which is given directly to the performers. The next show is Saturday with Apostles of Bluegrass and Facing South.