World-renowned band The Foxfire Boys have roots in Rabun

The Mountain Traveler - Summer 2018

Rabun County might seem like an unlikely place for internationally-acclaimed musicians to hail from, but The Foxfire Boys are just that.

As the name suggests, The Foxfire Boys — Rabun County’s hometown bluegrass group — developed out of the educational Foxfire program, which teaches students the history, traditions and ways of life in rural Appalachia. The group’s founding members met in a Foxfire music class more than 30 years ago. They loved jamming together, and over time, that morphed into something more.

In their early years, The Foxfire Boys traveled across the nation, performing to promote the Foxfire program, said original member Tom Nixon. Connections through the program ended up opening many doors.

In 1982, the band of teenagers and young adults played at the World Fair in Chicago, and that was only the beginning. The next year, they played on one of country music’s most iconic stages — the Grand Ole Opry.

“To walk out on that stage, I’m sure we were all scared to death, but we really practiced hard,” band member Dean English remembered. “They made us feel like family. Roy Acuff kept us out a lot longer than he was supposed to. It was a wonderful feeling.”

The band’s popularity has sent them around the world. In 1994, they played in Norway for the Winter Olympics. In 1996 the band played at the Summer Olympics in Atlanta, and in Athens and the Georgia governor’s mansion.

But one of their most remembered shows was right here in Rabun County, when they played with country music legend John Denver.

Though national and international travel is a thing of the past for the boys, who have grown into adults with jobs and families, they’re still a familiar sound throughout Rabun. The band can be found at many of the fundraisers, barbecues, festivals and church functions around the county, still delighting fans with the country and bluegrass tunes that earned them renown in their younger days.

This story comes from our free publication, Mountain Traveler magazine.

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