ASHEVILLE, NC AND ROANOKE, VA – Traditional Appalachian music will be center stage when the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th Anniversary weekend kicks off September 10 – 12 at Cumberland Knob, NC, (Milepost 217) and at the Blue Ridge Music Center (Milepost 213) near Galax, VA.
Headlining the event will be award-winning banjo picker and singer Dr. Ralph Stanley (who has performed for 55 years and on more than 170 albums) and one of bluegrass music’s rising stars, mandolin player and singer Sierra Hull. Dr. Stanley and His Clinch Mountain Boys will perform at 7 p.m. Saturday, September 11, and Hull, along with Highway 111, will be on the main stage at 4 p.m. Friday, September 10. Both performances will be at the Blue Ridge Music Center and are free and open to the public.
The pairing of Dr. Stanley and Ms. Hull on the same stage is emblematic of one of the main goals of the 75th anniversary of the Blue Ridge Parkway – an inter-generational promise of continued stewardship and carrying on the hallmark traditions of the Southern Appalachian region.
Dr. Stanley was born in rural Southwest Virginia in 1927 and began his career singing with his brother Carter Stanley. In 2002, he won Grammys for Best Country Male Vocalist Performance and Album of the Year, for his part in the “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” soundtrack. “O Brother” also inspired a series of sold-out concerts called Down From the Mountain, where Stanley was chosen as the closing act.
Stanley has recorded duets with such artists as Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, Vince Gill, Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton and Emmylou Harris. In 2002, renowned producer T Bone Burnett released the album “Ralph Stanley,” a collection of ancient and old-time songs from England and Appalachia and in 2002, his “A Distant Land to Roam,” a tribute to the Carter family, was released.
Stanley holds a Living Legend award from the Library of Congress and was the first recipient of the Traditional American Music award from the National Endowment of Humanities.
Sierra Hull has performed with bluegrass legends such as Alison Krauss, IIIrd Tyme Out, Sam Bush, Mountain Heart and Ricky Skaggs. Her latest album, “Secrets,” features fellow artists such as Jerry Douglas, Jim VanCleve, Tony Rice, Stuart Duncan and Dan Tyminski. Hull is active in the International Bluegrass Music Association and was a co-host of IBMA’s educational DVD release “Discover Bluegrass: Exploring American Roots Music,” an effort introducing young audiences to this unique American genre.
A special performance and discussion regarding “Round Peak” old-style music will feature The Round Peak Boys Saturday, September 11, at 4:30 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Music Center. Famously from the region around Mount Airy, NC, Round Peak music incorporates Anglo-Celtic fiddle as well as African banjo. Reservations are required for this free event and may be made by calling 276-236-5309 ext 112.
Other musical performances throughout the weekend will include Phil Jamison, square dance caller, oldtime musician and flatfoot dancer. Jamison toured for 26 years as a member of the Green Grass Cloggers and for 23 years with Ralph Blizard’s band. Jamison will help lead a flat footing workshop Saturday at 5:30 p.m. at the Blue Ridge Music Center.
Also performing will be old-time and mountain swing musician Laura Boosinger, whose career began with the Luke Smathers Band. Accomplished as a claw hammer banjo player and singer, Boosinger has recorded six albums, including a project with David Holt and the Lightning Bolts. In addition to playing with musician Josh Goforth Saturday, September 11, at 11 a.m., she will help lead shape note singing, a traditional Appalachian form of musicality, on Sunday at 11 a.m. Both performances will be at the Blue Ridge Music Center.
Josh Goforth, an accomplished old-time, bluegrass and swing musician, plays a variety of instruments and was named Fiddler of the Festival at Fiddler’s Grove for three years. He has performed with various ensembles including David Holt and Laura Boosinger, and with bluegrass bands including Appalachian Trail, the Josh Goforth Trio and Josh Goforth and the New Direction. He has also shared the stage with Ricky Skaggs, Bryan Sutton, The Yonder Mountain String Band, Open Road and The Steep Canyon Rangers.
Other musical performers include The Churchmen, who have received two Dove Award nominations, for Bluegrass Gospel Album of the Year and Bluegrass Song of the Year. The group will perform Sunday, September 12, at 11:30 a.m. on the main stage of the Blue Ridge Music Center. Other musicians during the weekend include Blue Ridge Parkway Ranger Tim Francis and his band Great Big Howdy and young performing artists from the Junior Appalachian Musicians program. Impromptu jam sessions – spontaneous groups of musicians playing and singing together—throughout the weekend will also be held in jamming tents at both Cumberland Knob and the Blue Ridge Music Center. Everyone is encouraged to bring their instruments and participate.
Blue Ridge Parkway 75, Inc. is the non-profit organization designated by the National Park Service to lead the Parkway’s 75th Anniversary celebration. With representation from all of the Parkway’s partner groups, the states of North Carolina and Virginia, and community leaders along the 469-mile scenic route, Blue Ridge Parkway 75, Inc.’s mission is to engage local communities and all visitors in an anniversary that focuses attention on a sustainable and healthy Parkway for future generations. For more information visit www.blueridgeparkway75.org.
|Blue Ridge Music Trails is a comprehensive traveler’s guide to more than 160 venues and events filled with bluegrass and string band music, gospel music, clogging, and other traditional forms of music and dance.
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