Long Point String Band

Hunter Walker, Cat Deck and Brian Bell have that skill and the passion for the music of that era. The three got together awhile back and formed a group called The Long Point String Band.

“I have been merited as the four-time West Virginia State Dulcimer Champion,” Walker said. “I’ve also been named as the Galax Old Fiddler Champion three times. I took home second place at the Vandalia Festival in the old-time banjo competition. My fiancé, Cat Deck, recently started playing the bass for us.”

He’s not the only one who’s an accomplished musician, Walker said.

“We got together to perform at an Old Time Show at Tamarack,” he said. “We needed a guitar player and I picked the best guitarist from the region.”

Bell has a Bluegrass background and played with a band for about ten to 12 years, he said.

“We’ve only been playing for about six months and we’ve played lots of shows,” Bell said. “Everyone that hears our music, without sounding too egotistical, tends to have fun with it and enjoys it. It’s fun music.

“It is an interesting mix, having us come from a similar middle ground, but then you pair some of the authenticity with the old-timey sound and add that pop and flare of bluegrass.”

The tracks have fun and strange names like “Nail That Catfish to a Tree,” “Tater Patch” and “John Brown’s Dream,” the duo said.

“There would have been a story attached to each tune that is based on their strange name,” Walker said. “Each one is a story worth sharing.”

This music is the music of the people and it’s mostly been traded through word-of-mouth and through field recordings, Walker added.

“In one way we’re preserving the music that’s a cultural icon to this area, but people are ignorant to it,” he said. “We’re trying to bring that back for people to enjoy but we’re innovating it. It’s not musical taxidermy.

“If you listen to the way that it was field recorded in the 1800s it’s a little different. We, as the new generation of musicians, are also touching it with our own perspectives and personalities.”

By putting their own flare and spin on the songs, Walker and Bell make it their own, but they will still share their takes on the songs with a loving audience.

“I want people to try and go support more live music,” Walker said. “It’s really nice when you can play for a packed house. It’s kind of disheartening when people don’t get interested and are indifferent to live music.

“But we do appreciate the support we’ve had,” Bell added. “ We thank those who have come out to show their support and the likes and shares on Facebook.”

In July, the band will unveil their first album at the Appalachian String Band Festival in Clifftop. It will feature 14 tracks and it will cost about $15, Bell said.

“Festivals like that are so important to us,” Walker added. “We get to sit with the masters and have them teach us. If you show a genuine interest in these people then they’ll be glad to help you out. They want the music passed on to the next generation. They’ve told us that they worry that the music will die with them.”

“Most people vaguely know of this music, but they often dismiss it as hillbilly music,” Walker added. “It’s as much my identity as it is yours. It’s your roots. It feels awkward to explain to a 60 or 70-year-old person what a dulcimer is since that’s a part of our heritage.”

It’s been said that the music industry in West Virginia can be unforgiving, but the Long Point String Band is making it, Walker said.

“We’re not making our living off of it, though,” he said. “We’re doing this because we love to do it. It’s a labor of love. We haven’t called up Carnegie Hall or Mountain stage and asked them to play so we haven’t had a huge rejection. Everything has been rolling smoothly. The money could be better though.

“We have met a couple roadblocks in getting bookings,” Bell said. “No one understood what old-time-music was. There were a couple of gigs that we tired to get or they were uninterested or they were unsure what they would get.”

Bell and Walker say they hope to record another few albums in the coming years, but they have another big goal.

“I want to get this band on Mountain Stage,” Bell said. “That’s a big dream for me.”

If you’d like to learn more about Long Point String Band, you can keep up with them on their Facebook page, “Long Point String Band.”

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