Mark your calendars for this coming Saturday night, Aug. 5, as Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music presents a special potpourri of music from the early days of 78 RPM recordings, featuring Bill and the Belles. This quartet from the Johnson City/Bristol area, are making their first appearance at JSMHM’s Indoor Concert Series at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. Doors open at 7:00 p.m.
JSMHM director, Rodney Sutton, stated “I first saw Bill and the Belles at the ASU Fiddlers Convention a couple of years ago. That was just a teaser to seeing them in concert. These folks really know how to capture the spirit of the era from which their songs come from. They give you the feeling of sitting in front of a 78rpm Victrola record player with an unlimited source of records from the past to choose from.”
With striking three-part harmonies and masterful instrumentation, Bill and the Belles skillfully breathe new life into the sounds of early country music. From sentimental Southern ballads to the popular songs of Tin Pan Alley to regional fiddle breakdowns, a Bill and the Belles show is a celebration of the diversity country music once represented. Lifelong musicians Kris Truelsen, Grace Van’t Hof, Kalia Yeagle, and Karl Zerfas bring to the stage an uplifting show unlike any other, full of humor, high spirits, and all-around revelry. It’s clear this group shares a rare musical connection and deep love for the music, and their excitement is contagious. Bill and the Belles are hitting the road with fervor, eager to share their music with new audiences.
What began as a project to explore the space created between hillbilly and urban, between vaudeville and down home, has arrived somewhere entirely new. Bill and the Belles offers a contemporary reimagining of a bygone era, breathing new life into the sounds of early country music. At the foothills of the Blue Ridge and the forefront of old-time music, Bill and the Belles continue to further the music traditions of their region. From sentimental Southern ballads to the popular songs of Tin Pan Alley to regional fiddle breakdowns, a Bill and the Belles show is a celebration of the diversity country music once represented.
Bill and the Belles play alongside America’s top roots music artists as the house band for the historic radio program Farm and Fun Time presented by Radio Bristol and the Birthplace of Country Music. It’s clear this group shares a rare musical connection and deep love for the music, and their excitement is contagious.
Truleson , who plays guitar and sings, was raised in the mountains of Colorado and has been an avid fan of early country music most of his life. As the first to earn his masters degree in Appalachian Studies from East Tennessee State University, he continues to expand and share his knowledge of traditional American music. As producer of Radio Bristol, housed in the Birthplace of Country Music Museum, Kris’ music, philosophy, and enthusiasm touch audiences internationally. Kris produces and hosts the historic radio program “Farm and Fun Time” and a daily morning program “On the Sunny Side.”
Yeagley’s expressive and versatile fiddling is quickly positioning her at the forefront of a new generation of acoustic musicians. She takes inspiration from her upbringing in Alaska, where long winters and strong, diverse communities have produced a music scene unlike any other. Her music is undeniably of the mountains, both the Chugach and the Blue Ridge. As a scholar of Appalachian Studies, she studied the rich musical heritage of the region with special interest in early country music’s pioneering female artists. She also plays guitar and like her band mates, she is also a featured vocalist.
Van’t Hof, who hails from Western Michigan, discovered the banjo in high school when she built a 5-string prototype that won 2nd place in a statewide Science Olympiad. She is inspired by artists ranging from Charlie Poole to Puccini, and her banjo playing provides equal parts drive and subtly to Bill and the Belles. With the Belles, she also plays ukulele and sings. A founding member of the Grammy-nominated Della Mae and longtime touring musician, her career has taken her around the world.
Zerfas the bass player for the band, is from Manhattan, Kansas and grew up listening to his father sing Kansas cowboy and prairie songs of the 19th century. Now a sought after bassist across east Tennessee and western North Carolina, he has proven himself to be one of the best up-and-coming roots music bassists in the country. His early American music repertoire is vast, drawing influence from classic country, early jazz, and hillbilly music. Zerfas’s unique perspective and solid groove shape the rhythmic backbone of Bill and the Belles.
The Blowing Rock School Auditorium is located at 130 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock.
This concert is supported by the following private sponsors; Lynn Hubbard, Mike and Melanie McKee, and Dr. E. Frank and Tara Hancock. Business Sponsors include; Advanced Reality, Mast General Store, Mountain Times Publishing, and the High Country Press. Additional support is provided by; The Watauga Arts Council, The NC Arts Council, and Boone TDA. Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music is also proud to be included as a site on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina (BlueRidgeMusicNC.com).
Tickets cost $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Student tickets are $5. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased online and in limited numbers at the Mast General Store (Boone and Valle Crucis), Fred’s Mercantile on Beech Mountain, Stick Boy Bread Company(345 Hardin St, Boone), plus Footsloggers and Pandora’s Mailbox on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock.
Tickets, directions and more info can be found at the JSMHM website – www.mountainhomemusic.org/