Across the Blue Ridge: Collectors and Song Carriers of Southwestern Virginia and Northwestern North Carolina; at The Blue Ridge Music Center
Saturday, September 23rd's concert - from 4-7PM - is entitled Across The Blue Ridge: Collectors and Song Carriers of Southwestern Virginia and Northwestern North Carolina. Hosted by Paul Brown the show features performances by Bobby McMillon, The Stuart Brothers, Bruce Greene a& Don Pedi.
A musician since childhood, Paul Brown spent years collecting and documenting traditional music in southwestern Virginia and northwest North Carolina, particularly the stunningly rich traditions around Mount Airy in the region known as Round Peak. As a performer, a record producer, and a radio hostformerly of Mount Airy's famous hometown station, WPAQ, and now reaching a national audience as a newscaster and reporter for National Public Radio's Morning EditionPaul Brown has introduced millions to the special world of Round Peak music, and helped to ensure its preservation and vitality for future generations. Paul spent years learning music directly from some of the last fiddle, banjo, and guitar players to emerge before the age of radio and recordings, including Tommy Jarrell, Gilmer Woodruff, Fields Ward, Robert Sykes, Luther Davis, Verlen Clifton, and Paul Sutphin. Paul has recorded with many of his friends including Bruce Molsky, Mike Seeger, and Tara Nevins. His most recent recordings are Way Down In North Carolina with Mike Seeger, Benton Flippen: Old Time, New Times, and Blue Ridge Mountain Holiday: The Breaking Up Christmas Story. His most recent recording, Red Clay County, features Paul's banjo playing, fiddling, and singing, and it has received a rave review from The Old-Time Herald magazine.
Robert Lynn "Bobby" McMillon, a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award recipient, was heir to numerous strands of Appalachian culture. From his father's family in Cocke County, Tennessee, he learned Primitive Baptist hymns and traditional stories and ballads. From his mother's people in Yancy and Mitchell Counties, North Carolina, he heard "booger tales, haint tales," and legends about the murder of a relative named Charlie Silver. In Caldwell County, he went to school with relatives of Tom Dula, learned their family stories, and heard ballads, gospel songs, and Carter family recordings. "The real storytelling," Bobby says, "was so intertwined that a bear tale or a fish tale or a witch tale or a tale of some history that had really happeneda family talethey were all equally believable."
He was always drawn to old songs and stories, but as a teenager he discovered the Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore in the Lenoir Public Library and got a glimpse of the historical background and significance of the things he knew. This inspired an enthusiasm for folklore documentation that has made him an invaluable resource to his community. By the age of seventeen, he had begun taping and interviewing family members, neighbors, and friends who knew old songs and stories. Even before that, he had begun to develop his skills as a performer. He and his cousins "would get together in the evenings" and "just tell everything in the world that we had heard."
Bobby McMillon has performed throughout the state as a singer and storyteller. He has appeared at events such as the Smithsonian's Festival of American Folklife, the A. P. Carter Memorial Festival, national storytelling conferences, and the Festival for the Eno. For a decade he served public schools as part of the Artist in the Schools and Visiting Artist programs. Filmmaker Tom Davenport produced a film, The Ballad of Frankie Silver, that features Bobby singing the ballad and telling stories passed down in his family and community about the murder.
The Stuart Brothers are world renown for their masterful performances of Appalachian fiddle and banjo duets. Trevor and Travis were born and raised in Bethel , a rural farming community in Haywood County, NC -- an area of magical beauty where the Blue Ridge and Great Smoky Mountains meet and once the ancient Cherokee settlement of Sonoma. These majestic ranges surrounded the young brothers with the rich musical and cultural environment of Appalachian fiddle tunes, Baptist spirituals, banjo pickers, all night square dance shindigs and poetic tale weavers.
With deep family musical roots, their great grandfather was the legendary fiddler Rev. Henry King, and great uncle the banjoist and singer Austin Stamey. The brothers learned some of the oldest regional fiddle and banjo styles from masters such as the Smathers Family, Byard Ray, Oscar "Red" Wilson, Gordon Freeman, and the Sutton family. They formed their first band in junior high and played for local clogging teams, local functions and fiddlers conventions. Since then they have toured extensively throughout the US and several foreign countries, teaching and performing at major festivals and music camps.
Close to home with Travis on banjo and Trevor the fiddle, the Stuart Brothers teach the younger generation in their community. For over a decade they have led the Haywood County JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) an after-school program funded by the National Endowment for the Arts.
Both Travis and Trevor are multi-instrumentalists. Together and separately they have performed at some of the world's most prestigious stages: London's Albert Hall, Dublin's Vicar Street, Levon Helm's Midnight Ramble, and New York City's Beacon Theater.
Having performed together for 30 years Travis and Trevor have also toured and recorded with step dancer Ira Bernstein, songwriter Martha Scanlan, Jim and Jennie and the Pine Tops, Dirk Powell Band, Rayna Gellert, Foghorn Stringband, Riley Baugus, and many more.
Bruce Greene is known worldwide for his preserving and playing of old time Kentucky fiddle music. He is also a skilled old time banjo player, singer, and collector of traditional Appalachian music and culture. Bruce has lived and worked among the people of Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina for more than thirty-five years, bringing to his playing the intimacy and dignity he absorbed through his apprenticeships with musicians born as far back as the 1880's.
Don Pedi was born into a musical family in Chelsea Massachusetts. On weekends, his grandfather, who died before Don was born, would close his barber shop for business, and open his home in the back as a gathering place for family and friends to share homemade food, fellowship and live music. Don's grandfather played guitar, mandolin and banjo. Don's uncle Frank made his living singing and playing music. Another gifted singer is Don's dad. He'll burst into song at the drop of a hat.
Don got involved with the Boston area folk music scene in the early sixties. 1964 was when he first laid eyes on a dulcimer. It was being played by Richard Farina at a live performance by Mimi and Richard Farina at the old Unicorn Coffee House in Boston.
The sound of the dulcimer proved most alluring. That night in a conversation with Richard Farina, Don was convinced that someday he would get himself a dulcimer and play it. Contemporary performers like Bob Dylan, Tom Paxton, Patrick Sky, Joan Baez and others attracted Don to the Newport Folk Festival. While there he was exposed to traditional musicians like Frank Proffitt, Doc Watson, Mississippi John Hurt, Almeda Riddle and such that where a major influence on his musical tastes. In 1973, while living in the Colorado Rockies, Don met Tad Wright and Keith Zimmerman, a couple of musicians from Asheville, NC. After hearing Don play, they invited him to join them. He did, and they piled into Tad's 1969 Volkswagen mini-van and drove to North Carolina.
At first sight of the mountains around Harmon Den and Fines Creek, Don knew he was home. He's pretty much lived in and around Asheville from then on. Since settling in Western North Carolina Don has been recognized as the man who could "really play" a dulcimer. He is a pioneer in that his music has broken new ground and cleared a path for others. In Don's hands, the dulcimer has been accepted as an instrument well suited to playing traditional Southern Dance music. This was at a time when most "Old-Time" musicians thought a dulcimer should be hung on a wall with a pretty ribbon.
In 1991 Don and wife Jean moved to a little farm in the mountains of Madison County, North Carolina. The area is rich in traditional music and customs (neighbors still plow with mules and horses). Don is at home.
Blue Ridge Music Center (View)
700 Foothills Road
Galax , VA 24333
|Kid Friendly: Yes!|
|Dog Friendly: Yes!|
|Wheelchair Accessible: Yes!|