Kicking off the summer with Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music’s Memorial Day Weekend Concert has become an ingrained tradition in the High Country. This coming Sunday, May 28, the Original Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys (MHBB) will again grace the stage at JSMHM, headlining another year of great concerts for 2017. This year’s annual Memorial Day Salute concert is again a tribute to those Americans who paid the ultimate sacrifice while serving in our armed forces. Adding to the celebration, the MHBB will be joined on stage by the hard-driving sounds of the youthful Cane Mill Road. The concert takes place at the Harvest House Performing Arts Venue in Boone, beginning at 7:30 p.m.
“Getting the busy Original MHBB together these days can be challenging”, stated JSMHM director Rodney Sutton. “All members of the group are immersed in all kinds of music projects and most of them play in other bands. Plus, these aren’t just your everyday bluegrass pickers – these boys have quite the reputation as being some of the best musicians anywhere in the country”, Sutton added.
The MHBB consist of two-time national bluegrass banjo champion and noted guitar player, Steve Lewis; two-time National Studio Musician of the Year and playing anything with strings, David Johnson; mandolin, fiddle and vocalist, Scott Freeman; and holding things together on the dog-house bass, Josh Scott.
In addition to his banjo prowess, Lewis is the proud owner of two Wayne Henderson guitars he received as the winner of the Wayne Henderson Festival guitar competition in 1998 and again in 2014. He also is featured in the Jeff Little Trio, along with fellow MHBB bass player Josh Scott. Lewis teaches private lessons on both banjo and guitar and has mentored some of the best young pickers in the country, including the young phenom guitarist Presley Barker.
Johnson is a beloved fixture at JSMHM concerts. In addition to his yearly performances with the MHBB and his country band Dixie Dawn, he now mainly works as a session musician. In that role, he has recorded with Ralph Stanley, Tony Rice and Arthur Smith, among others, and has twice been named National Studio Musician of the Year. He is also a musician and arranger for Horizon Music, a gospel music company in Asheville, North Carolina and does overdub work with Marshall Craven at the Star Recording Company in Millers Creek and dozens of studios in the southeastern United States.
In response to what new projects he has on his plate, Johnson responded – “I am starting on a new endeavor. I am attempting to write a book and produce a video project concerning the musical history of Wilkes County from the 1920’s until the beginning of MerleFest in the late 1980’s. This thing is going to be a pile of work and may take over a year, but it is one of the most exciting things I have dealt with since my North Shore sessions in the 1990’s.”
Freeman plays both mandolin and fiddle with the MHBB and also spends a great deal of time teaching. He currently has about seventy private students and an active waiting list. He works with the famous banjo instructor and musician Pete Wernick at a week-long workshop held at MerleFest. He spent more than three years teaching for the Junior Appalachian Musicians program in Sparta, and today he teaches for a program taught at the Blue Ridge Music Center in Virginia.
Cane Mill Road(CMR) will open the concert with their high-energy music that features an eclectic mix of originals and standards. Growing up just down the road from Doc Watson, these teens rock the traditional bluegrass tunes they grew up on, yet they boldly tackle progressive interpretations of Dylan, the Beatles, Gordon Lightfoot, and more. Honoring the past, the band looks to the future with a blended set of traditional and progressive music that walks the lines between bluegrass, Americana, and folk. Band members include: 14-year-old Liam Purcell on vocals, guitar, fiddle, mandolin, and clawhammer banjo; 19-year-old Eliot Smith on guitar and bass; 17-year-old Trajan Wellington on bluegrass banjo and guitar; and 19-year-old Casey Lewis on guitar, mandolin, and vocals.
Sutton added, “It is wonderful to see the respect and appreciation for the talents that flows both ways with the MHBB and CMR. These young CMR guys have been mentored by the MHBB for many years and it is heart warming to witness how proud they are at the great job CMR is doing to preserve bluegrass music”!
Friendships and passion for the music are what makes Mountain Home Music what it is today – a small mountain non-profit concert series that strives to honor the vision of it’s founder, the late Joe Shannon. This up-coming Sunday night concert – A Memorial Day Salute – will give the MHBB and CMR chance to celebrate the beginning of summer with an evening of music that includes a special segment of patriotic songs dedicated to our veterans and honors the memory of those who gave their all in service to our country!
This concert is supported by the following private sponsors: Lynn Hubbard; and The Estate of Joe Shannon. Business Sponsors include; Joy Whitlach – State Farm Insurance, Mountain Time Publishing, and the High Country Press. Additional support is provided by; The Watauga Arts Council, The NC Arts Council, and Boone TDA, The Anne and Alex Bernhardt Foundation, a component fund of the North Carolina Community Foundation. 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 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/