Have Memorial Day plans yet? Follow our full weekend itinerary of live mountain music and dance!
Start on Friday evening with dinner and a jam session with the Pretty Penny Pickers at the Pretty Penny Cafe in Hillsboro. Jam begins at around 6:30, and there is no cover charge.
After dinner, take a scenic 40-minute drive down US 219 to charming Lewisburg for a very special evening with some of the world’s premier banjo players, Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn at Carnegie Hall. From their website:
“Banjoists Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn have mastered the deceptively intricate art of the duet. Their performances embrace a diversity almost unthinkable – coming from just two banjos and one voice. Washburn’s beguiling composing, playing and singing blend with Fleck’s riveting and virtuosic musicianship to create music both unique yet familiar in texture.
Fleck, a 15 – time Grammy winner, has collaborated with Chick Corea, Oumou Sangare, Zakir Hussain, Edgar Meyer, Dave Mathews, Earl Scruggs, and the entire Cleveland Orchestra for his Banjo Concert ‘The Impostor’.
Washburn’s banjo has taken her far beyond the usual old – timey comfort zone, musically and geographically. An alumnus of Uncle Earl, the powerhouse all – female stringband, Abby’s adopted second homeland is China, and her music resounds with echoes of Appalachia and the tidal wave of emerging Chinese cultural influence.
Together, Fleck and Washburn employ the relatively rare 3 – finger and clawhammer banjo duet to create an explosion of musical white heat.”
Tickets start at $35.
Stay the night and have a leisurely Saturday breakfast in Lewisburg, named America’s Coolest Small Town (for lodging and dining options, contact the Greenbrier County CVB. The Wild Bean is a local favorite, and new farm-to-table restaurant The Spring is open for breakfast on Saturdays). A quick 15-minute drive will bring you to Old Mill Park in White Sulphur Springs, where the legendary Bill Hefner and the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys start their set at 1:00 PM as part of the West Virginia Dandelion Festival.
Enjoy the afternoon at your pace, but get your dancin’ shoes ready for the evening! Just over the Monroe County border in Greenville (50 minutes driving from White Sulphur Springs), the Hans Creek String Band are playing at the Greenville Ruritan Club’s annual Memorial Day Square Dance. Doors open at 6:00 and the music gets underway at 6:30. Admission is $5. Charles Larew will be calling the dance, and various activities will be interspersed between dances, including cake walks, an auction, and more. Concessions will also be available.
Alternately, in Ronceverte (an easier 20 minutes from White Sulphur Springs), the American Heritage Music Hall hosts its monthly Saturday night dance, featuring live country music beginning at 7:00. Admission is $10 and includes a variety of food, coffee, and soft drinks that the audience brings in and donates to the Music Hall. The atmosphere is plenty welcoming, and definitely family-friendly – no smoking or alcohol are permitted.
Whichever dance you choose, or if you check out both, or neither, there are lots of quality lodging options in Monroe and Greenbrier Counties. The folks at Travel Monroe and the Greenbrier CVB will be happy to help you choose a suitable hotel, B&B, cabin, or campsite for your needs.
Sunday, and Monday as well if you’re lucky enough to have the day off, enjoy your time in this gorgeous stretch of mountains on your own terms. The outdoor activities in the region are limitless, no matter your preferred excitement level. Perhaps ask around at the Saturday night dances about a Sunday gospel sing, which are sure to happen at a number of churches in the area. Or just enjoy visiting the small mountain communities along US Route 219 or up any back road… the locals will make you glad you did. As you make your way back toward home, perhaps listening to some bluegrass, old-time, or gospel on your radio (if you’re heading north, check out Allegheny Mountain Radio), let the beauty of the mountains and their musical traditions speak to you as it has for so many generations before, and hopefully to many to come.