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September Mountain Music Weekend

September 26, 2014 - September 28, 2014

mountain music trail

September 26-27

Fall in the mountains brings scenery more beautiful than normal, as leaves change to varying hues of orange, red, and yellow. Harvest season is a very active time along the Seneca Trail, as folks prepare for the long winter to come. There’s also plenty of music being made, and our weekend itinerary highlights the best in the traditional mountain string band music you’re liable to hear along the Mountain Music Trail, and by extension, anywhere on Earth. The weekend of September 26-27 is especially rich in mountain music along US 219, and we’ve hand-picked an itinerary to make it easy for you.

On Friday, September 26, start off your weekend at the Northern terminus of the Mountain Music Trail, Thomas, West Virginia. All the coal is long gone from this historic mining community, but the town is still home to a vibrant arts scene. Each year, the Leaf Peepers Festival in Tucker County celebrates community and the beautiful fall hues during the last weekend of September. On Friday, Thomas hosts their monthly community square dance, where locals and visitors alike gather to swing their partners, do-si-do, and dance the night away! Guaranteed to put a smile on your face! This dance is particularly special, though, as it will be held in the historic Cottrill’s Opera House, one of the oldest establishments on Front Street (East Avenue) that is currently undergoing a complete renovation. It’s been over 40 years since the Cottrill’s Opera House has had an event that involves boot stomping, clapping, singing, music, dancing, hootenanny, merriment, and the like. From 8:00 until 10:00 or so, Take Two, from Staunton, VA, will be playing live music for your dancing pleasure; caller to be announced. Beginners are always welcome, and no partner is necessary… there are plenty of folks who will be happy to show you some steps! After the square dance, at around 10:00, Loves It! will take the stage for an a late-night Dance-A-Thon! Besides inventive songwriting that travels between folk, country, indie pop and swing, Loves It! live shows features claw hammer banjo, guitars, mandolin, fiddle, and heartfelt inspired singing. “…fans will appreciate the fact that their indie folk is audibly inspired by the roots of early country, gospel, bluegrass, and soul. Still at the core is the sharp, angelic ruralism of Parrott’s singing, only balanced this time by Walters’ warm, open voice.” – Bao Le-Huu, Orlando Weekly. “…an American original, seemingly spontaneous at times, effortlessly stunning when you least expect it. The voices come into your heart like that of an angel on your shoulder. Music is sparse, unique and stellar.” – Kinky Friedman

As the dancing winds down (or as you find yourself too tired to keep going), walk down the hill to the state’s most prolific music venue, the Purple Fiddle. ‘The Fiddle’ hosts touring, professional musicians who play bluegrass, folk, Americana, and much, much more almost every night during the high season, and always on the weekends. Friday night’s show is Drymill Road, “a bluegrass / newgrass band playing high-energy and heartfelt original material along with their own tasty versions of classics.” $10 cover at the door. After the show, stay the night at the Purple Fiddle’s Guest House or Hostel (starting at only $25 per person!).

Satuday, September 27, wake up and head South along US Route 219. Enjoy the gorgeous high mountain scenery on your two-hour drive to Marlinton in Pocahontas County, where the annual Harvest Festival and West Virginia Road Kill Cook-Off should be in full gear by the time you arrive. Cooking starts at 9 a.m., judging starts at noon, and you can taste the grub whenever your stomach is ready! Tasting ticket sales close at 1:00 p.m. In years past, the Food Network, the Travel Channel and the Discovery Channel have all covered this wild and offbeat festival! If you’ve ever wanted to taste exotic dishes like squirrel gravy over biscuits, teriyaki-marinated bear or deer sausage, this is the place to be! There will also be local craft vendors, pageants, and of course a stellar lineup of traditional Appalachian string band music. Highlighting the event are local favorites The Bing Brothers, now featuring the fantastic Jake Krack on fiddle. Mike, Dave, and Tim Bing are among the most formidable and respected old-time musicians in West Virginia. Collectively as the Bing Brothers Band, and individually, they have performed, competed, taught, and promoted their brand of hard-driving old-time and bluegrass music to enthusiastic audiences across the state, the region, and around the globe. Their sound has been formed in the West Virginia mountains, and they remain true to their roots. Yet The Bing Brothers are highly versatile, playing selections in old time and bluegrass, as well as traditional Irish songs and ragtime. Banjo player Tim Bing is a 13-time West Virginia State Champion and Appalachian String Band winner. Fiddler Jake Krack has won the Galax Fiddler’s Convention Contest four times and is known as one of today’s top old time fiddlers. Mandolin player and band leader Mike Bing has been the glue that has kept the band together for over 30 years, and created the Allegheny Echoes Summer Workshops, which celebrate Pocahontas County and West Virginia music. In appreciation of their contributions to West Virginia music, Mike and Tim Bing are the 2012 recipients of the West Virginia Culture and History’s Vandalia Award. Guitarist and fiddler Danny Arthur has kept the powerful rhythm of the band cranking since 1981, with the additions of guitarist Bob Lieving and bassist Tim Corbett in 2002. The excitement and love of the traditional music can be felt throughout this live recording as the band performs 25 tunes adding their unique approach to the music they love to play and share with the world.

The old-time music promises to continue late into the evening, as the Pocahontas County Opera House hosts the Hammons Music Heritage Celebration starting at 7:30, part of Marlinton’s Autumn Harvest Festival. The Hammons Family carried on ancient traditions of fiddling, banjo playing, ballad singing and storytelling at their remote mountain home in Pocahontas County. Their legacy is proudly celebrated among today’s musicians. In recent years, musicians from West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Virginia and North Carolina have taken to the Opera House stage to pay tribute to the Hammons family, celebrating their own diverse range of musical styles and talents. Musicians and storytellers of all ages are invited to be a part of the celebration. Registration is free and available by calling the Opera House at 304-799-6645. Stay the night in Marlinton; talk to the folks at the Pocahontas CVB about lodging options (there will likely be camping with old-time pickers jamming around the campfire into the wee hours…).

On Sunday, wake up and enjoy Sunday morning in ‘Nature’s Mountain Playground,’ Pocahontas County. As you make your way home, tune in to some Sunday morning gospel music on Allegheny Mountain Radio, and enjoy the scenery of the Allegheny Highlands. You’ll be witnessing a landscape that, for the most part, is unchanged since the first Scots-Irish pioneers crossed the mountains, and over the course of the weekend you’ll have experienced a music heritage that harkens to those days, as well.