Where: A Show for Joe: Joe Wilson Memorial Music Festival
Presented by the Blue Ridge Parkway and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in collaboration with The Virginia Folklife Program and The Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and with support from The National Folk Festival and National Council for the Traditional Arts
Featuring: Jerry Douglas, The Whites, and special guest Alison Krauss with appearances by Wayne Henderson & Friends, The Jeff Little Trio, Linda & David Lay, Elizabeth LaPrelle, Phil Wiggins, The Hurdle Brothers, The Barr Family & Tony Ellis, and Frank Newsome
When: Friday, September 2, 4 to 9 p.m.
Where: Blue Ridge Music Center, 700 Foothills Road, Galax, Virginia, or Milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Cost: $40, $20 for ages 12 and younger. General admission only.
Tickets: BlueRidgeMusicCenter.org or (866) 308-2773, ext. 245.
Restriction: Due to expected crowds, no dogs will be allowed at the event.
Some of the biggest names in folk, bluegrass, and Americana, including the finest dobro player in contemporary acoustic music and the most highly decorated female musician of all time, will come together to honor the late Joe Wilson on Friday, September 2, 2016, at the Blue Ridge Music Center, milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway. This one-day festival will include performances by Jerry Douglas, The Whites, and special guest Alison Krauss, as well as musical tributes from Wayne Henderson & Friends, The Jeff Little Trio, Linda & David Lay, Elizabeth LaPrelle, Phil Wiggins, The Barr Family & Tony Ellis, The Hurdle Brothers, and Frank Newsome.
The memorial showcase is presented by the Blue Ridge Parkway and Blue Ridge Parkway Foundation in collaboration with the Virginia Folklife Program and Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, with support from the National Folk Festival and National Council for the Traditional Arts. The show is sponsored by WNCW 88.7.
In 2015, the music community lost visionary Joe Wilson. From his brainstorming sessions with then Blue Ridge Parkway Superintendent Gary Everhardt to create the Blue Ridge Music Center to his influential work with the National Council for the Traditional Arts, Wilson’s passion for the music of the Blue Ridge Mountains was immeasurable. He produced festivals, recordings, national and international tours, and helped create the Roots of American Music exhibit housed at the Music Center. A native of Tennessee, Wilson was instrumental in the development of The Blue Ridge Music Trails and The Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trails. He was also the author of A Guide to the Crooked Road: Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Many a musician can attest to Wilson’s work in helping to guide them in the music world.
Virginia state folklorist Jon Lohman recalls Wilson’s impact on artists and the music world. “It would not be an overstatement to say that Joe Wilson was one of the most productive and influential cultural figures of his generation. His tireless work on behalf of artists and the community-based folk traditions that they mastered transformed not only the lives of these artists but of countless communities and audiences he exposed to them,” Lohman said. “These artists include some who have gone on to gain global recognition. Joe famously brought a then-unknown teenage fiddler named Alison Krauss on an international tour of master fiddlers, and showcased the likes of Jerry Douglas, Ricky Skaggs, The Whites, and Wayne Henderson early in their careers. These artists as well as many others who formed a close relationship with Joe over the years will join together to celebrate his life and legacy at the Blue Ridge Music Center, itself a place born of Joe’s dreams and visions.”
The public is invited to attend a special pre-concert tribute remembrance for Wilson led by Virginia folklorist Jon Lohman from 1 to 4 p.m. at the indoor theater. Seating is limited and offered on a first come, first serve basis. There will also be a “Jam for Joe” in conjunction with the Music Center’s regular Friday afternoon Bluegrass Jam from noon to 4 p.m. The ticketed concert begins at 4 p.m.
During the one-day festival, the exhibit, Banjos: From Africa to the New World, will be on display in the Luthier Shop. Food vendors will also be on site.
Recognized as one of the most renowned Dobro players, Jerry Douglas has garnered 14 Grammy Awards and numerous International Bluegrass Music Association awards, and holds the distinction of being named Musician of the Year by The Country Music Association (2002, 2005, 2007), The Academy of Country Music (11 times), and The Americana Music Association (2002 and 2003). In 2004, the National Endowment for the Arts honored Douglas with a National Heritage Fellowship, acknowledging his artistic excellence and contribution to the nation’s traditional arts, the organization’s highest such accolade. As a sideman, he has recorded with artists as diverse as Ray Charles, Eric Clapton, Phish, Dolly Parton, Paul Simon, Mumford & Sons, Keb’ Mo’, Ricky Skaggs, Elvis Costello, and Johnny Mathis, as well as performing on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack. He has been part of such notable groups as The Whites, The Country Gentlemen, and Elvis Costello’s Sugar Canes. Douglas has produced a number of records, including overseeing albums by Alison Krauss, the Del McCoury Band, Maura O’Connell, Jesse Winchester and the Nashville Bluegrass Band, The Earls of Leicester, and Steep Canyon Rangers. Along with Aly Bain, he serves as Music Director of the popular BBC Television series, Transatlantic Sessions. Since 1998, Douglas has been a member of Alison Krauss and Union Station, touring extensively and playing on a series of platinum-selling albums. When not on the road with the group, Douglas tours with The Jerry Douglas Band and The Earls of Leicester.
The Whites are an American country music vocal group consisting of lead singer Sharon White, her sister Cheryl, and their father, Buck, who got his start in the music business performing with Opry legends Hank Snow and Ernest Tubb. In the ’80s, the group scored such hits as “You Put The Blue In Me,” “Hangin’ Around,” “Give Me Back That Old Familiar Feeling,’” “Pins And Needles,” “If It Ain’t Love (Let’s Leave It Alone),” “Hometown Gossip,” and “When The New Wears Off of Our Love.” In August 1981, Sharon White married Ricky Skaggs, who performed on several of the Whites’ early releases. In 1987, the couple released the hit song, “Love Can’t Ever Get Better Than This.” The Whites are regular performers on the Grand Ole Opry program in Nashville, Tennessee. Their collaborative album with Skaggs, “Salt of the Earth,” won the 2008 Grammy for Best Southern/Country/Bluegrass Album. The Whites can also be heard on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack with the song “Keep on the Sunny Side.” They also appear in Down from the Mountain, the documentary of a concert given by the soundtrack artists. The Whites were inducted into the Texas Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
Alison Krauss entered the music industry at an early age, winning local contests by the age of 10 and recording for the first time at 14. She signed with Rounder Records in 1985 and released her first solo album in 1987. She was invited to join the band with which she still performs, Alison Krauss and Union Station, and later released her first album with the group in 1989. She has released 14 albums, appeared on numerous soundtracks, and helped renew interest in bluegrass music in the United States. Her soundtrack performances have led to further popularity, including the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, an album also credited with raising American interest in bluegrass, and the Cold Mountain soundtrack, which led to her performance at the 2004 Academy Awards. By 2012, she had won 27 Grammy Awards with 41 nominations, making her the most-awarded singer and the most-awarded female artist in Grammy history.
Wayne Henderson, Helen White & Herb Key
Wayne Henderson is a National Heritage Award recipient honored for his craftsmanship as a luthier and his renowned finger-style Appalachian guitar playing. His lightning fast, articulate playing style was influenced by the late Doc Watson and E.C. Ball, who were both close friends. He has won more awards at the Galax Old Fiddlers’ Convention than any other competitor in its 77-year history. A singer, fiddler, guitarist, and tunesmith, Helen White’s compositions include works for theater and video projects as well as a Booklist-honored recording of original songs for children. White is the founder and served as regional director of the Junior Appalachian Musicians program for 13 years. Herb Key grew up in a musical family in Wilkes County, North Carolina. He has played music for most of his life and has spent more than 30 years making, repairing, and restoring instruments.
Raised in Rural Retreat, Virginia, Elizabeth LaPrelle grew up in a home filled with singing and a community with many fine old-time musicians. She has developed her repertoire from neighbors like Jim Lloyd, under the tutelage of powerful female ballad singers Ginny Hawker and Sheila Kay Adams, and from a wealth of field recordings of legendary mountain singers. LaPrelle toured as part of the National Council for the Traditional Arts’ Music from The Crooked Road Project.
Linda & David Lay
Vocalist Linda Lay grew up playing music in a family band and spending Saturday nights at the Carter Family Fold. Linda and her husband, guitarist David Lay, have toured nationally. She was a featured vocalist on the Masters of the Steel String Guitar tour and is recognized as a Master Artist in traditional singing by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.
Phil Wiggins is arguably America’s foremost blues harmonica virtuoso. While rooted in the melodic Piedmont or “Tidewater” blues of the Chesapeake region, his mastery of the instrument now transcends stylistic boundaries. Wiggins achieved worldwide acclaim over three decades with premier Piedmont blues duo Cephas & Wiggins. Since the death of guitarist and singer John Cephas in 2009, Wiggins has brought his harmonica wizardry to bear in a variety of musical collaborations.
The Jeff Little Trio
Like Doc Watson who famously adapted traditional fiddle tunes to the guitar, Jeff Little has adapted those tunes to the upright piano. His distinctive style is highly influenced by the flatpicking guitar tradition. The trio also features two-time national banjo champion Steve Lewis (also on guitar) and upright bass master Josh Scott.
The Barr Family with Tony Ellis
Tom Barr is a master instrument maker who started Barr’s Fiddle Shop in Galax, Virginia, while he and his wife, Becky, played in the old-time mountain dance band Whitetop Mountain. Later, the store and the neighboring barbershop became gathering spots for local musicians. Their son, Stevie, was inspired to play banjo by hanging around the two shops growing up. The Barrs have played at Lincoln Center, the Library of Congress, and for the Queen of England.
Bluegrass and old-time string band traditions are fused into the solo banjo and fiddle style of Tony Ellis. Ellis was taught the two-finger style of banjo playing by his grandmother, an old-time fiddler. He joined Bill Monroe & His Bluegrass Boys in 1960, spending two and a half years with the influential group. Although he left full-time performing in the late ’60s, Ellis has continued to develop his unique sound.
The Hurdle Brothers
The Hurdle Brothers of Chesapeake, Virginia, carry on a storied tradition of “Tidewater Quartet” gospel singing. The members, which span multiple generations, are well known through the Hampton Roads area for their passionate singing and syncopated harmonies. The Rev. Tarrence K. Paschall, a National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellow, recently joined the group.
An elder in the Old Regular Baptist Church, Frank Newsome is a master practitioner of lined-out hymn singing, one of the oldest musical traditions in Virginia. Old Regular Baptists maintain the tradition of permitting no musical accompaniment in their services. Instead, the congregation sings a cappella, with a preacher or elder singing a line of a hymn and the congregation repeating the line in a mournful blend of voices. Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley helped draw attention to this art form by opening his annual Hills of Home Festival with a hymn sung by Newsome, and Newsome sang at Stanley’s recent funeral service. In 2011, the National Endowment for the Arts awarded Newsome the National Heritage Fellowship.