Mountain Home Music Series 2013: Twenty Years

Home Sweet Home: Twenty Years

MHM1 By Joe Shannon

Twenty years of Mountain Home Music. It feels like a milestone. For me, it is, in a way. From this moment on a hazy, early May day in 2013, I can look back to an earlier moment, to the time when Mountain Home Music got started. It was winter, 1993. Sitting on my living room couch, I was watching the local cable access channel that covered community events. The host, a pretty young woman, announced that they were looking for ideas for some local programming. My mind started to turn. How about a music program? There was very little opportunity for this area’s musicians to play locally—and to be featured, listened to, and appreciated. This meant that there was also very little opportunity for those who appreciated traditional music to hear it, local and live. I put two and two together and came up with one idea. I shared this idea with the cable company. They were interested. “They,” in this instance, meant the cable company’s management, plus Appalachian State University’s Office of Cultural Affairs. To a great extent, I learned, they shared a common, community-service vision, as well as personnel and expertise.

As it turned out, the cable company, with support from ASU, agreed to film concerts I produced and air them on both the community access channel and ASU’s campus channel. I was surprised and grateful for that opportunity.

Next, I needed a place. A friend of mine, Bob Mallory, owned Our Daily Bread, a small deli in downtown Boone. I asked Bob about using this space for a live concert series and television show. He agreed. Even though the space was small, I thought about creating the aura of a 1960s coffee house, and that’s what we did. Coffee and chips, bagels and beer were offered, and a crowd assembled—to listen, to appreciate, and to show support for local music and musicians.

It was February 4th, 1994. When the lights came on and the cameras rolled, I started playing “Home Sweet Home.” Steve Lewis, Rachel Nelson, and Becca Eggers-Gryder joined in. That was the beginning of Mountain Home Music. Now, 20 years later, it continues. So, in a way, the beginning of this season feels like a milestone. And for me, in a way, it is.

Here is a list of the 2013 Mountain Home Music Performances.  For tickets, visit:


1.  Musical Memories: Memorial Day

David Johnson and the Studio Band
Blowing Rock School Auditorium
7:30, Sunday, May 26, 2013

David Johnson and the Studio Band are memory makers.  They make memories through music, mostly in recording studios.  David Johnson (multi-instrumentalist), Tracy Davis (bass), Danny Crawford (piano), Richard Putnam (piano), and Rick Murry (drums) have helped to share musical memories for Tony Rice, Arthur Smith (wrote “Dueling Banjos”), Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson, and thousands of others.  Included in this concert will be country classics and patriotic songs, and veterans will be recognized and honored.

Along with Doc Watson, the original Carter Family, and others, David Johnson was in the inaugural class of the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.

2.  Appalachian Roots

The Whitetop Mountain Band
Blowing Rock School Auditorium
7:30, Saturday, June 1

Joe Shannon says, “The Whitetop Mountain Band is wild and wonderful.  They are a full-throttle old-time band; they play Scotch-Irish fiddle tunes, and they are all great singers and dancers (flat-foot mountain style).”  The band performs locally, nationally, and around the world.  Performance venues have included Virginia’s Whitetop Fire Department and the Floyd Country Store; festivals in Blacksburg, Virginia, and San Diego, California; and concerts in Australia, England, Scotland, and Wales.

“The Whitetop Mountain Band…makes my heart glad.”~ Jerome Clark, Bluegrass Rambles

3.  Mountain Traditions

The High Country Ramblers, plus Steve and Ruth Smith
Blowing Rock School Auditorium
7:30, Saturday, June 8

The High Country Ramblers play bluegrass and traditional mountain music.  The band features David Wiseman (mandolin), Jim Smith (guitar), Perry Woodie (banjo and dobro), Ron Shuffler (bass), and Alan Johnson (fiddle).  Each musician has deep mountain roots and extends a family musical tradition.  For example, David Wiseman comes from a family of musicians including radio and movie stars Scotty and Lula Belle Wiseman, as well as fiddler Jimmy Wiseman.  And Alan Johnson’s father played occasionally with the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.   

Steve and Ruth Smith are masters of the mountain sound.  Based mostly on Scottish and Irish traditions, their music includes hammer dulcimer, guitar, and banjo.
Steve and Ruth Smith were named Americana Instrumental Group of the Year at the 2013 Appalachian Cultural Music Association Awards.

4.  The Medicine of Music

Big Medicine
Blowing Rock School Auditorium
7:30, Saturday, June 15 

Big Medicine knows the medicine of music.  They know that music “can move the heart, lift the spirits, make you cry, or tickle your feet.”  They truly know.  Members of the band—Kenny Jackson, Joe Newberry, Bob Head, and LaNelle Davis—are some of the most highly regarded contemporary performers of American traditional music.

“That’s how string band music is supposed to sound … absolutely effortless.  They’re just a great band, I love this band,” Garrison Keillor, A Prairie Home Companion

5.  Piano Man of the Blue Ridge

Jeff Little, with Steve Lewis and Josh Scott
7:30, Saturday, June 22
Location: First Baptist Church, Blowing Rock

 Jeff Little is the Piano Man of the Blue Ridge.  He grew up listening to Appalachian fiddle tunes, bluegrass hits of the day, and early rock and roll.  The music stayed with him and found expression—in the piano.  There aren’t many fiddle-tune, bluegrass, and rock-and-roll piano players.  But Jeff Little sure is one.  MHM Bluegrass Boys Steve Lewis and Josh Scott will join Jeff for this celebration of song.

 “Jeff Little is a remarkable musician, steeped in the tradition of his native Blue Ridge, yet also a virtuosic and eclectic innovator. “ NPR, National Public Radio

6.  Bluegrass and Silver Strings

Carolina Crossing and the Silver Strings Dulcimer Band
7:30, Saturday, June 29
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

Carolina Crossing plays traditional bluegrass, gospel, and easy listening ballads.  This Watauga County band features Gary Trivette (bass and lead vocals), Curtis Main (banjo), Tyler Thompson (guitar), Dennis Isaacs (guitar), and Caleb Courtner (mandolin).  For many years, these goodwill ambassadors of bluegrass have played at local churches and community gatherings. They’ve also played at the Music Festival in Sugar Grove and opened for the Oak Ridge Boys. 

The Silver Strings Dulcimer Band features the sweet and gentle sounds of the mountain dulcimer.  The band features Bill and Jewel Magee, Sarah Borders, and Tom Pace

7.  Bluegrass & Brass

The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys and the King Street Brass
7:30, Thursday, July 4
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

Each year, for 14 years, Mountain Home Music has celebrated the 4th of July with Bluegrass & Brass.  The bluegrass is provided by the highly acclaimed Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys.  The brass is provided by current and former faculty members from the ASU Hayes School of Music.  Bluegrass & Brass is part bluegrass, part Dixieland, and lots of fun.

 A musical salute to veterans always has been—and always will be—a special feature of Bluegrass & Brass.

8.  From the Irish Heartland

Nuala Kennedy
7:30, Thursday, July 13
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Nuala Kennedy hails from County Louth in the northeast of Ireland.  She sings traditional songs in English and Gaelic, and plays the flute and low whistle.  For this concert Breton guitarist Gilles Le Bigot will join Kennedy.  Pianist Laurie Nicholson and MHM host Joe Shannon  (hammer dulcimer, concertina, harmonica) will share a few Irish harp tunes.

 “Fresh, zesty, and magical…”  The Irish Times, 2010

9.  Bluegrass: The Early Years

Strictly Clean & Decent and David Johnson
7:30, Saturday, August 3
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

This will be MHM’s third edition of Bluegrass: The Early Years.  The concert will feature music from the pioneers of Bluegrass: Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, the Osborne Brothers, and others.  Perennial MHM favorites Strictly Clean & Decent—Kay and Patrick Crouch and Ron Shuffler—and master musician David Johnson will lead this all-star musical tour.

 George Shuffler, the brother of SCD’s bass player, Ron Shuffler, was a member of the original Stanley Brother’s Band, and he introduced guitar flat-picking into bluegrass music.

10.  Honeycomb (and One-Hit Wonders)

David Johnson and the Dixie Dawn Band
7:30, Saturday, August 10
Blowing Rock School Auditorium 

David Johnson and the Dixie Dawn County Band have created a special concert for MHM for 16 years.  This year’s concert will feature one-hit wonders—country music performers who hit it big and then fell into relative obscurity.  But their songs have had staying power.  Remember “Talk Back Trembling Lips,” “It Keeps Right on A-Hurting,” and “Honeycomb”?  Come hear these and other great old tunes from the 1950s and ’60s.   

David Johnson and the Dixie Dawn Band was the opening band at Merlefest for its first 18 years. 

11.  A Labor Day Celebration

The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys
Laurelyn Dossett and Scott Manring
7:30, Sunday, September 1
Location: TBA

A Labor Day Celebration is a celebration in story and song that’s dedicated to those who helped build mountain communities: coals miners, railroaders, millworkers, truck drivers, and others.  The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys are Steve Lewis, Scott Freeman, Josh Scott, and David Johnson.  Joining the Bluegrass Boys will be singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett and multi-instrumentalist Scott Manring, both from Greensboro. 

 Laurelyn Dosset is a recipient of the NC Arts Council Fellowship for songwriting, and she’s had works commissioned by the NC Symphony, with which she’s toured.

12.  Banjo Jubilee

Steve Lewis, Edwin Lacy, and Scott Manring
7:30, Saturday, September 28
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

Steve Lewis plays bluegrass banjo. Edwin Lacey plays old-time (claw-hammer) style, and Scott Manring moves between several different banjo styles.  Perhaps because of the banjo’s unique sound or the masters making the sound or the banjo’s evocative joy, Banjo Jubilee has quickly become one of MHM’s most popular concerts.  This third edition of Banjo Jubilee will also feature fiddler Scott Freeman and bass player Josh Scott. 

 Steve Lewis is a two-time National Banjo Champion.

13.  The Voice of Time & Seasons

The Jeanne Jolly Band
7:30, Saturday, October 5
Blowing Rock School Auditorium 

Jeanne Jolly is a singer, a “singer’s singer.”  She grew up singing country music in her native North Carolina, sang and studied opera at the New England Conservatory, and toured and sang jazz with Grammy Award–winning trumpeter Chris Botti.  Still young and on the road, Jeanne Jolly blends her past and present to create her own sound, in her own voice, the voice of time & seasons.

 “Jolly’s tone is exceptionally warm and clear…the gift of many years’ diligence…”Southport Magazine

14.  I Know (Banjo) Joe & (Mandolin) Mike

Joe Newberry and Mike Compton
7:30, Saturday, October 12
Blowing Rock School Auditorium 

Well, you probably know them.  You may know Joe from his numerous appearances on Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion, from his banjo playing with Mike Craver, Jim Hicks, and Bill Watson—the original Red Clay Ramblers—or from his singing, songwriting, and tours.  You may know Mike as a Grammy-winning mandolin player, from his days of playing with John Hartford or from his appearances on the soundtracks of O Brother Where Art Thou and Cold Mountain.  If that rings a bell (or not), get to know Joe and Mike even better on October 12 in Blowing Rock. 

 About Joe and Mike: “They pull off what’s almost impossible these days: honest, genuine music that will get your soul dancing.”  Chris Stuart, Bluegrass Today

15.  North Carolina Balladeer

Sheila K. Adams
7:30, Saturday, October 19
Blowing Rock School Auditorium 

Sheila K. Adams makes connections—through songs, stories, and songs that tell stories.  As a seventh-generation balladeer, she sings songs of English, Irish, and Scottish origins.  As a musician, she’s a first-class banjo player and vocalist, and as a writer she’s won the Brown-Hudson Award and the Clark Cox Award from the NC Society of Historians.  Sheila K. knows how to connect, communicate, and entertain.

 Sheila K. Adams’s Come Go Home With Me, a collection of semi-autobiographical short stories, was praised by Life Magazine as “pure mountain magic.”

16.  A Celtic Christmas

Amy White and Al Petteway
7:30, Saturday, November 30
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church 

Al Petteway (guitar and banjo) is a Grammy Award winner.  Amy White is a composer, instrumentalist (piano, mandolin, Celtic harp), and singer.  Collectively, their music has appeared on numerous PBS programs produced by Ken Burns, including Mark Twain, The National Parks, The Dust Bowl, The Roosevelts, and others.  For this special Christmas concert, they will draw from a broad array of old-English, Celtic, and traditional carols.

 “…music of transporting power and beauty.”The Washington Post

17.  An Appalachian Christmas

The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys
Lisa Baldwin, Dave Haney, and Friends
7:30, Saturday, December 7
Grace Lutheran Church, downtown Boone

Mountain Home Music closes its season each year with a free Christmas concert.  In place of an admission price, a collection is taken and 100% of the proceeds go to the Santa’s Toy Box and the Hospitality House.  Santa’s Toy Box helps to assure that children in Watauga County get a visit from Santa, and the Hospitality House is Watauga County’s homeless shelter.  Featured will be the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys—Scott Freeman, Steve Lewis, Josh Scott, and David Johnson—plus Lisa Baldwin, Dave Haney, and other friends of MHM.

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