14th annual Clinch Mountain Fest on tap again this year
Clinch Mountain Music Fest is gearing up for its 14th annual celebration of mountain music in Scott County, Virginia on Saturday, April 27th, 2019. Established by Jay and Carol Dixon and the Southwest Virginia Community Foundation as a means of preserving and perpetuating the heritage of the Appalachian region through its’ music, the festival was created as a means of showcasing the culture and natural beauty of our region. A native Scott Countian, Jay genuinely wanted to bring attention and attract new visitors to the unique place where he grew up and loved. Clinch Mountain Music Fest will be held entirely at the Carter Family Fold. Although the music starts early, crafts and outside vendors won’t be part of this year’s festival. Admission to the festival is $12 for adults, $3 for children 6-11, and under 6 free. Doors at the Carter Fold open at 4 p.m., and the shows kick off at 5 p.m. The Carter Family Museum and the A.P. Carter birthplace cabin will be open from 4 to 5 p.m.
This year’s festival is once again dedicated to Jay Dixon who chaired the festival for five years and passed away in January of 2012. Having grown up in Nickelsville near Bush’s Mill, Jay left the area to further his education and pursue his career. We’re delighted that one of our main sponsors – RACE 1 – the Regional Adult & Career Education Program – is closely linked to Jay and the beginning of his successful career. Jay was himself a GED recipient. He went on to receive multiple degrees, write textbooks for West Point, and serve as a consultant to the U.S. Military. Passing up a chance to be the Under Secretary of Defense, he chose instead to come back to his native Scott County, establish the Southwest Virginia Community Foundation and Clinch Mountain Music Fest, and to take on the monumental task of refurbishing Bush’s Mill. The SW Virginia Community Foundation continues to flourish under the guidance of Jay’s wife, Carol. After his death, she completed the work he had begun on Bush’s Mill. Jay was, in fact, born near Bush’s Mill and remembered seeing the mill operate as a child. As Jay requested, Clinch Mountain Music Fest was entrusted to the Carter Fold. Five groups will be featured – Ronnie Williams and Lorrie Carter Bennett, Mountain Park Old Time Band, Southern Pride with Leon Frost, Uncle Shuffelo and His Haint Hollow Hootenanny, and the Spencer’s family band – the Whitetop Mountain Band. Ronnie & Lorrie will feature Carter Family music, and the bands are all old time musicians who will highlight mountain music.
Lorrie Carter Bennett & Ronnie Williams When Mother Maybelle Carter began to tour with her three daughters in the 1940s, listeners everywhere fell in love with the beautiful singing of Anita Carter, whom many consider to be the greatest voice in the history of country music. She shared the stage and recorded true country masterpieces with several music legends, including Hank Williams, Waylon Jennings, and Hank Snow. And though Anita passed away in 1999, her daughter Lorrie Carter Bennett, carries on the Carter tradition with a voice that is every bit as heartbreakingly stunning as that of Anita herself. Born with county music in her blood, Lorrie was touring with the Carter Sisters by age 14 and later with Johnny Cash. Johnny made sure to tell the masses how Lorrie’s voice was every bit as breathtaking as her mother’s.
Ronnie has been playing since 1975. One of his best memories is playing for Sara and Maybelle at the Fold in 1976. He played Gold Watch and Chain and Black Mountain Rag for “Mommy and Maybelle” at Janette’s request. He plays a Gibson guitar much like Maybelle’s, and he also plays autoharp and sings beautifully. He’s been a friend of the Carter Family for years – covering three generations. He often visited various members of the family – a tradition he continues to this day. A great cook, Ronnie often helps out in the Fold’s and the Carter Family’s kitchens. You won’t find anyone who knows more about the Carter Family and their music or anyone who plays it with more reverence than Ronnie Williams does.
Mountain Park Old Time Band was formed more than ten years ago as a group of friends who happened to enjoy old time music got together to have a good time. The group has five members, all of whom are very versatile and talented musicians. Johnny Gentry plays guitar, dobro, and fiddle as well as doing vocals for the band. His wife Nancy drives the rhythm with her excellent bass playing. She and Johnny both teach music, and Johnny also makes beautiful banjos. Roger Stamper handles the fiddling for the group and he plays guitar and bass as well. C. T. Janney plays the washboard – an “instrument” rarely played today. C.T. also cuts a mean rug when he dances. Dr. Mark Handy plays banjo and does vocals – he’s also a champion clogger. When he’s not playing old time music, Dr. Handy practices medicine in Abingdon, Virginia, and helps to run his family’s farm.
Southern Pride will be making their debut performance at the Fold for Clinch Mountain Music Fest. Started by James and Joey Burris in the 1980s, the band has performed at the Galax Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention many times. As old timey as it gets, Southern Pride delivers old time music just the way audiences at the Fold like their music – no frills with a some slow dance tunes, a little bit of gospel, and lots of fast-paced, fun fiddle tunes. Lending his instrumental and vocal talent to the group will be long time Fold friend, Leon Frost. The group placed high on a long list of bands competing in old time at 2018’s Galax Old Time Fiddlers’ Convention.
Uncle Shuffelo and His Haint Hollow Hootenanny is a seven-piece, old-time string band from Rover, Tennessee, with musical influences by the Carter Family, Gid Tanner, Uncle Dave Macon, the Coon Creek Girls and many other old-time bands from year’s past. Band members emanate from the Williams and Derryberry families. Uncle Shuffelo (Keith Williams) plays banjo. Austin Derryberry plays fiddle, banjo, ukulele, guitar, and harmonica. Brian Derryberry plays upright bass. Conner Derryberry plays the banjo, bones and spoons. Emma Jean Williams plays autoharp and jug. Megan Williams plays washboard and kazoo. Courtney Derryberry plays guitar, banjo, ukulele and tuba. The Hootenanny plays old-time hillbilly music for the soul. In addition to being one of the finest bands performing at the Fold, they’re some of the nicest country folks you will ever meet.
Whitetop Mountain Band, from the highest mountains of Virginia, is a family-based band. Whitetop is an area rich in old time music tradition, and the band has deep roots in the music of the mountains. Whitetop’s members have worked tirelessly to preserve the region’s style of old time fiddling and banjo picking and are legendary musicians and teachers of the style. Their shows are high energy and unlike any other show you have ever seen. There’s everything from fiddle and banjo instrumentals to powerful solos and harmony vocals on blues, classic country, honky tonk, traditional bluegrass numbers, old time ballads, originals, four-part mountain gospel songs – and some amazing flat foot dancing. Well-known for their charisma on stage and their ability to engage audiences of all ages, this group has been performing at the Fold since shows first began at the A.P. Carter Grocery in the 1970s. The Whitetop Mountain Band is still carried on today by the Spencer family and their friends. Emily Spencer is featured on banjo and vocals, her daughter Martha Spencer is a multi-instrumentalist (guitar, banjo, fiddle, and bass) and fine vocalist and dancer. Emily’s son, Kilby Spencer, will be doing lots of fiddling. Debbie Bramer plays bass in the band and dances. Ersel Fletcher plays guitar and also adds his vocal talent to the group.
You can check out all the performers on their websites and on YouTube. For a fast-paced, fun-filled evening of some of the best mountain music around, come out and be part of Clinch Mountain Music Fest. Bring along your family, your friends, and be sure to bring your dancing shoes. We promise that you’ll be glad you came.