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Old-Time Saturday Night

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Rex Theater's new concert series gets toes tapping

By April Wright, Reporter

 

Old-Time Saturday Night, a new monthly concert series at the Rex Theater in Galax, is another opportunity for people to dance to old-time music at the historic downtown venue.
For several years, the Rex on East Grayson Street has hosted Blue Ridge Backroads Live, a concert series of bluegrass and old-time bands broadcast live on WBRF 98.1 FM on Friday nights.

• Explore the historic Rex Theater in Galax

“On Friday nights, we have bluegrass and old-time bands, but more bluegrass than old-time,” said Ray Kohl, director of the Galax Visitors Center, right across the street from the Rex. “Having Old-Time Saturday Night one Saturday a month gives people the chance to square dance and flatfoot and hear that type of music. And, for those who like bluegrass and old-time, they know there's a big difference between the two.”
Old-time is, by definition, older. It came from early rural settlers who brought  music from Eastern Europe. It also is more suited to dancing, emphasizing rhythm and volume.
Kohl said Old-Time Saturday Night came from listening to what Rex visitors wanted to see happen at the theater.
The idea from long-term Rex volunteer Ann Boyer of Galax. “It's something we have thought about doing for a while,” she said. “A lot of people wanted to get old-time and dancing started there.”
One of the main differences between bluegrass and old-time is that the rhythm and time of old-time music allows for square dancing and flatfooting, said Boyer, who has volunteered at the Rex for 11 years because of her love for traditional Appalachian music, as well as her passion to keep the theater up and running.
Old-Time Saturday Night will bring in some of the most popular bands from the area, known all across the country, said Kohl. Some, such as White Top Mountain Band, have toured as far New Zealand and Australia.
“When these bands play, they draw big crowds,” said Kohl. “When we have old-time bands on Friday nights, a lot of people get up to dance.”
Kohl said having a monthly concert series at the Rex provides another opportunity to bring people to downtown Galax and to showcase the historic theater, a converted 1930s-era movie house that was renovated and put back into service as a live performance venue more than a decade ago.
A few years ago, the city took over operations of the Rex from the volunteers who brought it back to life.
Kohl showed a list of fundraisers, concerts and plays at the Rex throughout the year. “We want to promote the theater as much as possible, and maybe we can start looking at weekday activities," he said.
So far, the Rex has held two Old-Time Saturday Night shows — one in January and one in February — bringing over 100 people each time.

CONCERTS ARE MONTHLY, 7:30-10:30 P.M.
@ the Rex Theater, East Grayson Street in downtown Galax
Cost is $5, with proceeds paying for the bands and contributing to the upkeep of the Rex.

• March 5 — New Ballard Branch Bogtrotters
• April 30 — White Top Mountain Band
• May 14 — White Top Mountain Band
• June 18 — Slate Mountain Ramblers
• July 23 — Mountain Park Old Time Band
• Aug. 6 — Crooked Road Ramblers and White Top Mountain Band
• Aug. 27 — Mountain Park Old Time Band
• Sept. 24 — Slate Mountain Ramblers
• Oct. 29 — New Ballard Branch Bogtrotters
• Nov. 19 — Slate Mountain Ramblers
• Dec. 12 — Mountain Park Old Time Band