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“Roots of American Music: How Hillbillies Helped Invent It” is a musical tour with a cast of 12 well-known musicians that will visit 12 towns along Virginia’s “Crooked Road” heritage music trail now through May 22 to showcase how mountain music came about and how it has helped influence American music.
The tour will make a stop at the Rex Theater in Galax on Wednesday.
The show tells the story of how Southwestern Virginia was a mixing bowl where a truly American form of music was created from ingredients brought there from many places. This began after 1720, primarily with settlers from Ulster in Ireland, the Rhine Valley of Germany. Their music mixed with English and African sounds brought to the mountains by settlers who came westward from the Tidewater.
The tour is an outgrowth of the permanent exhibit, Roots of American Music, opening at the Blue Ridge Music Center near Galax on May 27.
The exhibit, in development for four years, was created by historians and musicologists guided by the National Council for the Traditional Arts and Blue Ridge Traditional Arts of Galax.
Ralph Applebaum Associates of New York, designers of the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C., designed the exhibit.
“When I started working on the exhibit years ago, I wanted to precede it with a tour,” said Joe Wilson, a music historian who has served as director of the music center for several years. “We want to show how the music came to America, while having a good time.”
The music performed on the tour will be largely American, but some of the musicians are not. Cheick Hamala Diabete is a griot, a hereditary musician and historian, from Mali in West Africa. He plays an instrument that developed into the American banjo.
Dr. Michael “Mick” Moloney is the Irish musician and musicologist who created the famed Greenfields of America shows that set off the international revival of Irish music and dance.
Joey Abarta is a brilliant young Irish musician who recently stood the world of Irish music on its head by winning the challenging world championship of uilleann bagpiping at the tender age of 22.
Nine of the most respected musicians from Southwest Virginia will show how historic music from The Crooked Road reaches around the world.
Dale Jett is a powerful singer from Scott County, and a third generation member of the famous Carter Family.
Wayne Henderson is a guitarist from tiny Rugby in Grayson County who tours internationally, and is one of the most respected acoustic guitar makers in the world.
Sammy Shelor is a nationally respected bandleader, singer and banjoist from the Meadows of Dan in Patrick County.
Molly Slemp is a teenaged singing phenom, a keeper of ancient ballads reared in the coalfields of Wise County.
Kirk Sutphin is a brilliant fiddler, old-time banjoist, and keeper of the Round Peak string band style that in recent decades has spread to the world from the Virginia-North Carolina border.
Burl Rhea is an underground coal miner from Russell County, a drop-thumb banjoist and singer in the take-no-prisoners Cumberland Mountain style.
Linda Lay is a singer who lifts audiences out of their seats with a spellbinding emotional depth. A bassist with the precision of an atomic clock, she is Bristol-born, and a nationally respected performer.
Eddie Bond is from Fries, but his mastery of the rich Round Peak string band style has created an audience for his music that stretches from New Zealand to the moors of Scotland.
Leigh Beamer has a way with instruments and a big voice. She recently celebrated her 15th birthday by learning two great old songs from her native Wythe County.
The tour will hit many of the small theaters along the Crooked Road. Wilson hopes the tour generates an interest in hosting more tours such as this along the Crooked Road.
“We have the best of the best,” said Wilson. “Some people might listen to this music, but they don’t know what they’re listening to...This tour can help reinvent the excitement of live theater.”
The tour is funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, Heartwood, the Appalachian Regional Commission, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, and The Crooked Road.
For more information, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The “Roots of American Music” permanent exhibit is at the Blue Ridge Music Center, at Milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax. For more information, visit www.blueridgemusiccenter.org/
Roots of American Music Tour Dates
Wednesday, May 11
Rex Theater, 113 E. Grayson St., Galax
Showtime: 7:30 p.m. Doors open 6:30 p.m.
Tickets available at the Galax Visitors Center,
110 E. Grayson St. and Barr's Fiddle Shop, South Main Street in Downtown in Galax
Thursday, May 12
Natural Tunnel State Park Amphitheater
Show Time: 6:30 p.m.
Tickets $10 Sponsored by Scott County Chamber of Commerce
Friday, May 13
The Paramount Center for the Arts
518 State Street, Bristol
Show Time: 7 p.m. Doors open 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $12 in advance and $15 at door.
Tickets available at the Paramount Center for the Arts and online at www.bristolrhythm.com
Saturday, May 14
The Jettie Baker Center
348 Main St., Clintwood
Show Time: 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets: $10, call 276-926-8694
Sunday, May 15
Historic Star Theatre
Show Time: 3 p.m. Doors open at 2:30 p.m.
Tickets available at The Depot Emporium, or
Star Theatre by calling 276-694-7064
Tuesday, May 17
Roanoke Main Library
FREE Event courtesy of Roanoke Public Libraries
706 S. Jefferson St., Roanoke
For Information call: 540-853-1057 or Email: email@example.com
Reservations Not Required
Wednesday, May 18
Southwest Virginia Community College
King Community Center
Rt. 19 (6 miles south of Claypool Hill)
Showtime: 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Tickets: $10 at the door (cash or check only)
For more information call: 276-964-7619
Thursday, May 19
The Lincoln Theatre
Showtime: 7 p.m. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
Tickets Available at the Lincoln Theatre box office (276) 783-6092 or online at www.thelincoln.org
Friday, May 20
The Goodloe Center at Mountain Empire Community College
Big Stone Gap
Show time: 7:00 p.m. Doors Open at 6:30 p.m.
For advanced tickets Call 276-523-7489 or
Saturday, May 21
The Floyd Country Store
Concert: 7:30 p.m., Workshop: 3:45 p.m.
Tickets: General Admission: $15 Students: $10
Sunday, May 22
Franklin County High School Auditorium
700 Tanyard Road
Show time: 2:30 p.m. Doors open at 1:30 p.m.
Ticket Info & Reservations: 540-483-0904 or 540-483-5360
Sunday, May 29
Blue Ridge Music Center
Milepost 213, Blue Ridge Parkway, Galax
Showtime: 3 p.m.
For More Information call: 276-236-5390