1000 x 90

16th Annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Held on March 23rd

The Banknotes on stage. Photo by Monty Combs

16th Annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Held at the Wilkes Heritage Museum this Past Saturday

The Wilkes Heritage Museum hosted the 16th Annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Saturday, March 23, 2024.  The musical history of the inducted icons was celebrated throughout the event.  Cindy Baucom served as emcee and set the pace for the evening.

The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame house band, Virginialina, performed throughout the night with inductees or to honor inductees.  Virginialina is composed of David Johnson, Eric Ellis, Scott Freeman, and Scott Gentry.  Their musical talent and versatility was most evident with each set they played.

R. G. Absher took home the 2024 Dr. T. R. Bryan Wilkes Heritage Music Award and performed with the Banknotes.  Mike Palmer, friend, member of the Banknotes, and 2019 Dr. T. R. Bryan Wilkes Heritage Music Award recipient inducted Absher.

Wayne Henderson, 2008 Recording and Luthier Inductee, presented the award for the 2024 Pioneer Artists, E. C. and Orna Ball.  Fellow inductee Herb Key and Banknotes member Jeff Pardue joined Wayne Henderson in performing a special tribute to E. C. and Orna Ball.  To mark this special occasion, Henderson performed using E. C. Ball’s guitar.

Wilkes Heritage Museum Chairman George Childers received a special Honorary Award for his work in creating the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.  His children, Kent Childers and Jennifer Lyall, bestowed George with his award while the house band, Virginialinia, played a couple of his favorite tunes.

The 2024 Jam Session. Photo by Monty Combs

Joe Wilson, the 2024 Special Contributor, Promoter, and Organizer inductee, was inducted by long-time friends and fellow musicians David and Linda Lay.  Wilson’s wife, Kathy James, accepted the award on behalf of her husband who passed away in 2015.  David and Linda Lay were joined by Wayne Henderson to perform a tribute to Joe Wilson.

Wade Mainer joined his brother, J. E. Mainer, in the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame as the 2024 Nationally Known Artist.  George Buckner from Buncombe County, North Carolina, near where the Mainer family lived, had the honor of inducting Wade into the hall of fame while family members Gary and Isaac Mainer performed a tribute to their uncle.  Isaac had the pleasure of performing on Wade Mainer’s banjo during the ceremony.

Art Menius and Becky Johnson, two good friends of the late Jim Eanes, presented the award for 2024 Songwriter posthumously to Eanes while his nephew, Ray Eanes joined Virginialina in performing two of his most popular songs.

Jens Kruger, 2011 Sideman and Regional Musician inductee, inducted his good friend Marc Preutt as the 2024 Sideman and Regional Musician.  Marc was joined on stage by his talented wife, Anita Pruett, and Viriginialina to play a couple of tunes after accepting his award.

Ray Eanes with Virginialina. Photo by Monty Combs

The multi-talented Carol Rifkin who hosts WNCW’s “This Old Porch” inducted radio station WPAQ out of Mount Airy, North Carolina into the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame in the Media and Scholar category.  Kelly Epperson, co-owner and General Manager, accepted the award while Virginialina performed a couple of songs that would have been heard on the early days of WPAQ.

The night was capped off with the annual Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame jam, led by David Johnson of Virginialina. Seeing musicians from different walks of life playing together, just because of their love of music, is always a spectacular and highly anticipated ending to the event.

The Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame exists to showcase and preserve the rich musical heritage of the greater Blue Ridge Mountains from northern Georgia to northern Virginia. The Hall of Fame educates, defines, and interprets the history of music and musicians in all genres from the region with exhibits and an annual celebration of inductees. Centrally located at the Wilkes Heritage Museum in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame increases the visibility of, and support for, the museum.

The Wilkes Heritage Museum collects and preserves historic structures, artifacts, and documents of Wilkes County and serves as a resource center for every Wilkes County citizen and visitor.  Through exhibits, educational programs, performances, and research, the Wilkes Heritage Museum interprets the history of Wilkes County and western North Carolina. 

Sponsors for this event included the Town of Wilkesboro, Marilyn Payne/A-1 Self Storage, NC Arts Council and Wilkes Art Gallery, Arnold and Rebecca Lakey, Main Street Music and Loan, The Terry Baucom Scholarship Fund, Brame Huie Pharmacy, GUNTONFILM.com, Ann Showalter, George Childers, Nancy Watson, R. G. Absher, Craig Langston/Edward Jones Investments, Scenic Memorial Gardens, Don and Gayle Brown, and DonLin Counseling Services.  This project is supported by the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

For more information about The Wilkes Heritage Museum and the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame, please call 336-667-3171 or go to www.wilkesheritagemuseum.com.

Wayne Henderson, Linda Lay and David Lay perform. Photo by Monty Combs