Saturday, August 16th 2014
12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Wintergreen Performing Arts
The Virginia Piedmont is known for its beauty, its history, its crystal streams and hardwood forests, but it is also the home of a rich musical tradition. Drawing on a Scots-Irish heritage, the Blue Ridge settlers added voices from Africa and, in a unique medley of fiddle, banjo, bass and guitar, sang of America. This region has spawned old time, bluegrass and Americana musical forms. Join us to enjoy this uniquely American sound on Saturday, August 16, 2014 when Wintergreen Performing Arts will present the voices of the Blue Ridge through its 9th Annual Blue Ridge Mountain Music Fest. This year the Fest features the return of always entertaining Nothin’ Fancy and the talented young mandolin player Sierra Hull and her group.
From the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, comes one of the most entertaining bands in the bluegrass genre, Nothin’ Fancy (2 and 5 pm). As a matter of fact, they’ve won The Society for the Preservation of Bluegrass Music in America’s award for Entertaining Group of the Year five times! The band was formed as a bluegrass band in 1994 to compete in a bluegrass competition. Ever since then, they have grown in popularity, released nine full length albums, and continue to perform at festivals all across the United States, Canada and Norway including the iconic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, TN, the Lincoln Center in New York City, and the Birchmere in Alexandria, Virginia. They have successfully hosted their own Nothin’ Fancy Bluegrass Festival every year since 2001 in Buena Vista, Virginia. Their strong vocals, powerful instrumentation, and energetic stage presence, along with their friendly down-to-earth charm keeps people coming back for more. Nothin’ Fancy is not just carrying on the tradition of bluegrass music; they are contributing to the creation of a new tradition within the acoustic music genre.
Also featured is the precocious young manolinist Sierra Hull and her group (1 and 4 pm). A good chunk of popular music’s real estate has been carved up along lines of age these last half-dozen decades, and we are used to seeing young musicians aim exclusively for young audiences then flounder as they outgrow teenaged listeners’ tastes and concerns. Pan-generational mentoring has done much to insulate bluegrass from this coming-of-age quandary. Still, Sierra Hull is the rare individual to make it through these years entirely unscathed. Secrets—the debut album she recorded at 15, and released at 16—struck the ear with sensibilities that seemed both seasoned and fresh; kids’ stuff this was not. Three years and a move from her family’s home in tiny Byrdstown, TN to Boston’s Berklee College of Music, she’s followed with one of the most surefooted transitions into early adulthood put to record.
Of course, the evidence of Sierra’s uncommon maturity—musical and personal (one might say she embodies the perfect balance of humility and capability)—has been there all along, and won her formidable fans: by age eleven, Alison Krauss had called with an invitation to the Grand Ole Opry stage and by twelve Rounder Records was expressing interest. Then there’s the fact that Berklee College gave her the school’s most prestigious award, the Presidential Scholarship, a first for a bluegrass musician; her choice to accept it, to delay her dream of hitting the road full-time after high school in favor of expanding her musical worldview, was hardly a light one. Boundaries—age, genre or otherwise—don’t hamper an artist like Sierra. She’s already earned considerable respect in the bluegrass world, the Inernational Bluegrass Music Association’s voting members having nominated her for no fewer than five awards over three years—there’s a good chance she’ll be the first woman to win the mandolin category.
Returning to the Mountain Music Fest for the third time comes the local bluegrass music of The Virginia Ramblers (noon and 5 pm). The Ramblers are a traditional bluegrass band based in the Charlottesville area. They honor the legends of bluegrass, such as Jimmy Martin and the Stanley Brothers, and strive to carry on in that tradition. A band of bluegrass veterans, the Ramblers focus on rich, vocal harmony and strong instrumentation. Guitar player and lead singer Charles Frazier and Bass player/singer Donnie Shifflett played for many years with the late, great Alvin Breeden and The Virginia Cutups. When Alvin Retired around 2005, Charlie and Donnie carried on with the same traditional, hard driving sound as The Virginia Ramblers. The band has now been recharged with the addition of Troy Gooding on mandolin and vocals, and Tom Hogge on banjo and vocals (both former members of The Courtney Hollow Band, a band that has also performed at the Mountain Music Fest).
The day’s performances will conclude with the Appalachian string band music of Kim and Jimbo Cary and Pete and Ellen Vigour (6 pm). The Cary/Vigour group is a gathering of friends dedicated to performing and teaching traditional music of Virginia. Pete Vigour, the lead fiddler, was a member of Trapezoid in the 1970’s and continues performing with Uncle Henry’s Favorites, one of the area’s premier string bands. Ellen Vigour, a talented multi-instrumentalist, plays mandolin and fiddle. Along with Pete, Ellen appeared with Uncle Henry’s Favorites on NPR’s A Prairie Home Companion. Jimbo Cary plays banjo and Kim Cary plays guitar and bass. Kim and Jimbo have been selected as Touring Artists by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, performing in schools, libraries, concerts, and festivals. The Carys have played at the Kennedy Center and, with Pete Vigour, at the White House. The Carys and Vigours will also be leading jamming sessions throughout the day.
Wintergreen Performing Arts will present the voices of the Blue Ridge through its 9th Annual Blue Ridge Mountain Music Fest. This year the Fest features Nothin’ Fancy, Sierra Hull, the Virginia Ramblers, and Kim and Jimbo Cary & Pete and Ellen Vigour. The Carys and the Vigours will be leading jamming sessions throughout the day. Food will be available for purchase.
Admission Fee: Ticket Price: Adults $25, Students (6-17) $10, Children (under 6) FREE