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Hard Redemption Plays a Hot One in Historic Watertown

by Rich and Laura Lynch

The historical town of Watertown, Tennessee hosted a daytime Bluegrass and Fall Festival at the Town Square on September 02, 2023. Hard Redemption was one of a number of local bands to perform at this family friendly event. In addition to music there were art vendors and food trucks along with local commerce on Main Street near the Town Square.


Soraiya Campbell and Michael Anderson of Hard Redemption.

Watertown is located 40 miles east of Nashville and 10 miles southeast of Lebanon on Highway 70 (also known as Sparta Pike). The buildings in Watertown's business district are historic - check out the bank and the pharmacy as prime examples. The sidewalks around the square have been replaced and lampposts fashioned in an early 20th-century style have been installed adding to the effect of going back in time.

There are a number of restaurants along with shops to check out. Watertown has a small town feel which is in stark contrast to Nashville. Yet, Hard Redemption demonstrated that there is quality music to be found in this community.


This historic square was alive with the sound of Bluegrass music.

While you are enjoying a trip to Watertown visit the Archives located in the Atwood Welcome Center. They have information and photographs that tells of this town's business, educational and military history. Plus, they have public restrooms. While we were at Atwood we meet a lady who left Nashville to enjoy the more laid-back lifestyle that Watertown offers.

Watertown benefits from its association with the Tennessee Central Railway Museum (TCRM) which is a nonprofit organization dedicated to interpreting, preserving and restoring railroad equipment. TCRM specializes in operating historic trains, providing a unique opportunity to rediscover vintage rail travel through beautiful Middle Tennessee.


Hard Redemption played a strong set of rock and Gospel tinged bluegrass.

Throughout the year some of TCRM's trips feature a stopover in Watertown which brings hundreds of people into this small town. The Bluegrass and Fall Festival was planned on a "Train Day" so visitors got a bonus. TCRM's trips often have themes such as a Train Robbery, Wine Tasting and later this year the North Pole Express.

Hard Redemption is fronted by husband-and-wife duo Michael Anderson and Soraiya Campbell. Michael is an award-winning hit songwriter best known for the classic "Maybe It Was Memphis" (Pam Tillis), "No Love In You" (John Fogerty), "Sound Alarm" (one of our personal favorites) along with many Dove-awarded gospel songs such as "Be Not Afraid" and "God's Been Good to Me". Soraiya originally hails from Canada. She was an opera singer who now soars on country, gospel and rock. The talented twosome is joined by Sam McGreevy (lead guitar), John Cisco (fiddle), Armand Anderson (bass) and JP Evans (drums).


This event lived up to its advance billing.

On Saturday, Hard Redemption presented a solid set of covers, gospel and originals. "Letter From Shiloh" was one of their most potent pieces. Michael shared that it was inspired by a letter he saw that expressed the emotions of a solder before a major civil war battle. Hard Redemption's songs of faith were also powerful so it made sense that they concluded their show with the encouraging "Be Not Afraid" featuring a banjo.

The Watertown Bluegrass and Fall Festival proved that there is good music outside of Nashville. The town is also known for hosting a sizable Jazz Festival in July. Thanks to the local insurance agent who shared this information with us. Her office right in Town Square also operates as an art gallery featuring fine works from folks in the surrounding areas.


Clinchfield played two big bluegrass sets in Watertown.

Related Links: For more information on HARD REDEMPTION and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Hard Redemption | Michael Anderson | Soraiya Campbell | Clinchfield | Hard Redemption Presents a Songwriter's Showcase | Why Songwriter Michael Anderson Still Believes in Nashville | Tennessee Central Railway Museum | Watertown, Tennessee


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