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String Instrument Building to be showcased at Blue Ridge Music Center

Traditional string instrument building will be showcased at The Blue Ridge Music Center Saturday, August 30, 2008.

Beginning at noon Virginia¹s Makers and Players will demonstrate and exhibit the making of string instruments in the Center’s breezeway and luthier area. Jam sessions, workshops, and demonstrations by great makers of traditional string instruments will include Wayne Henderson, Jimmy Edmonds, Gerald Anderson, Spencer Strickland, Tom and Stevie Barr, Randall and Jacob Eller, Mac Traynham, and Bill Anderson.

The program is part of a summer-long promotion sponsored by Virginia Tourism Corporation. Virginia Tourism Corporation worked with area instrument makers to create handmade instruments that are being given away to lucky contest winners. Prizes include an all expense paid trip to Southwestern Virginia, tickets to attend this Saturday¹s event at The Blue Ridge Music Center where the winners will be presented with their handmade instruments by the makers of those instruments, and lodging at local B&B, The Davis Bourne Inn located in Independence, Virginia.

Wayne Henderson will present a Henderson guitar to winner Hank Lawrence from Bethelem, Pennsylvania. Anderson-Strickland will present their handmade instrument to Kathleen Kasley, of Williamsburg, Virginia. The presentation will be made during the evening concert, as the master instrument makers will open the concert with a stellar performance.

“It has been a pleasure to partner with Virginia Tourism in this exciting promotion”, says Debbie Robinson, the Center¹s Program Coordinator. “Virginia Tourism Corporation contracted some of the world¹s most talented craftsmen who reside right here in our region, to handcraft these instruments to be given away as the Big Prizes of this very successful promotion. The promotion has also offered tremendous exposure to the instrument makers and the quality musical instruments that they are turning out, all the while bringing new visitors to our region”. The winners will experience first-hand the traditional music of the region, they¹ll meet the makers and players of this music, they will be treated well with a stay at The Davis Bourne Inn in Independence, who also partnered in the Virginia Tourism promotion.

Kenny and Amanda Smith Band-among the nation’s most beloved Bluegrass bands, now working all over the world will also perform as part of this Saturday’s program, as they take the stage at The Blue Ridge Music Center for the first time.

The concert begins at 7 pm, gates open at 5:30 p.m. Admission to the concert is $10 at the gate, children age 11 and under admitted free.

The Blue Ridge Music Center is located at Milepost 213 on The Blue Ridge Parkway. The 2008 Summer Series is presented through a partnership with the National Park Service with support from The National Endowment for the Arts, and local partners, radio stations WBRF and WPAQ, Bogeys Restaurant and The City of Galax. For more information and a complete schedule visit the website at www.blueridgemusiccenter.org or phone 276-236-5309.

The Pickin’ Porch presents “An Evening With Larry Sparks”

Larry Sparks to perform on the Pickin' Porch Show.At his age, some artists would probably be content to take the triumph of two consecutive years of top industry awards as the equivalent of a gold watch and chain, but that’s not Larry Sparks’ style.

Sparks was the International Bluegrass Music Association’s Male Vocalist of the Year in 2004 and 2005, and winner of both Album of the Year and Recorded Event of the Year awards in the latter. The legendary Bluegrass entertainer makes a special appearance at the ACMA’s Pickin’ Porch in the Bristol Mall on Saturday, August 30th at 7:00pm.

Born in Lebanon, Ohio in 1947, Sparks chose a quiet life in semi-rural southeastern Indiana, emerging only to hit Bluegrass festival stages in what have amounted to lightning campaigns. He leaves it to others to make the media rounds and promotional tours, and he has always tended to let his music speak for itself. But for those who listen, it has told a story that runs like an unbroken thread through more than 40 years of Bluegrass history.

A musician by the time he started high school, Larry Sparks stepped into the history books and into the heart of the music when he began making appearances as the legendary Stanley Brothers lead guitarist before graduation. With the death of Carter Stanley in 1966, he became Ralph Stanley’s right-hand man, moving into the Clinch Mountain Boys’ all-important guitarist and lead singer role and carrying on the Stanley sound even as he began to make his own contributions.

Three years later, he formed his own band – The Lonesome Ramblers – and quickly became a favorite of the growing audience in the “Bluegrass Belt? that stretches from the Mississippi River through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and on across to the powerhouse Bluegrass area around Baltimore and Washington, DC.

Developing his bluesy, signature guitar licks and resonant, soulful voice into the building blocks of a traditional, yet immediately identifiable personal sound, Sparks produced a steady stream of gripping albums, culminating in a pair of late 70s masterpieces: “John Deere Tractor”, which made instant classics of, among others the title track, Allen Mills’ “Love Of The Mountains?, “The Girl At The Crossroads Bar? and Keith Whitley’s “Great High Mountain? (personally handed to Sparks by its writer) and “Larry Sparks Sings Hank Williams” which revealed his profound affinity not just for The Drifting Cowboy’s legacy, but for the enduring simplicity of classic country sounds.

While “progressive? sounds dominated the Bluegrass scene in the 1980s, Sparks remained true to his singular artistic vision, training younger musicians in the discipline of the Lonesome Ramblers sound. As traditional Bluegrass began to make a comeback, Sparks’ lonesome sound and sternly personal approach to music and career drew new and renewed admiration.

Tickets for the ACMA’s “An Evening with Larry Sparks? on August 30th at the Pickin Porch in the Bristol Mall are on sale at the Mountain Music Museum in the lower level of the Bristol Mall or order by phone at 276-645-0035. Tickets are $15 general admission and children under 12 years of age are admitted free with a paying adult. Proceeds from the show go to benefit the non-profit ACMA and the Mountain Music Museum. The museum is open all Bristol Mall hours and admission is free to the public. For more info visit www.mountainmusicmuseum.org. This show is sponsored by Bryant Label Co., Chic-Fil-A in the Bristol Mall, WETB 790 AM and WAXM 93.5 FM.

6th Annual Papa Joe Smiddy Festival

When: Sunday, August 31, 2008 6:00PM
Where: Natural Tunnel State Park Amphitheater – Duffield, Virginia

The 6th Annual Papa Joe Smiddy Mountain Music Festival Planning Committee is pleased to announce the award winning Dixie Bee-Liners will headline this year’s show, also featuring performances by Tennessee Skyline, Dr. Joe Smiddy & Reedy Creek and Fire In The Kitchen.

The festival of bluegrass and traditional music will take place on the Sunday of Labor Day week-end (August 31st) starting at 6:00 P.M., at the Natural Tunnel State Park Amphitheater. Prior to the start of the festival, attendees are invited to join local musician, playwright and entertainer extraordinaire, Ron Short at Picnic Shelter #4 from 3:00 P.M. to 5:00 P.M. to learn about traditional mountain music and the instruments as well as the chance to join in on some front porch style pickin’.

At 5:00 P.M., selected performers from the summer’s Pickin’ in the Park will take the stage at the amphitheater.

The Bee-Liners’ new album RIPE recently topped the Bluegrass Now Fan’s Choice Top 20 chart, and also achieved two simultaneous #1′s on Bluegrass Music Profiles’ Top 20 Hot Singles and the Roots Music Report Bluegrass Chart. This album features a tribute to Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail, the hit single “Down on The Crooked Road,” of which Natural Tunnel State Park is an affiliated site.

Tennessee Skyline, a favorite of bluegrass enthusiasts, recently released The Train Don’t Come Around Here Anymore, a master work of their combined talents with a strong focus on tradition and heritage.

Dr. Joe Smiddy & Reedy Creek features the traditional claw-hammer banjo of Papa Joe Smiddy, a first-rate musician and storyteller. The group’s most recent release Hop Up Ladies, a CD packed full of traditional favorites like “Wise County Jail,” “Uncle Joe” and “Shortnin’ Bread.”

The quartet of Fire In The Kitchen specializes in presenting lively Appalachian and Celtic music to its audiences. Instrumentation of the ensemble includes: hammered dulcimer, Irish flute, Irish whistles, classical flute, Irish bodhran, guitar, bass, violin and viola.

Reserved Seating – $15 Bench seats under roof
General Admission – $10 Grassy hillside for blankets with limited flat chair space

Tickets may be purchased using a credit card by calling (276) 940-2674. General admission tickets are available at the gate.