Signing of ‘Wayfaring Strangers’ Depicting Musical Voyage to Appalachia Oct. 12

Published Thursday, October 8, 2015 at 10:03 am
Fiona and Orr

Fiona and Orr

For twenty-two years, Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music has been presenting concerts in the High Country, but JSMHM’s upcoming show – “Wayfaring Strangers”, will mark two “first” for this popular entertainment series. It will be the first time of holding a show on a Monday night and the first time JSMHM has staged a multi-media event and this one features a book! Yes, that’s right – the star of this production is the New York Times Best Seller – “Wayfaring Strangers: The Musical Voyage from Scotland and Ulster to Appalachia” by Fiona Ritchie and Doug Orr.

The audience will be treated to a 90 minute presentation of selected readings by the authors, accompanied by musical selections by Mark and Julee Weems, that highlight dozens of historical photos projected on two large viewing screens. It all takes place on Monday night, October 12, at 7:00 p.m. in the Harvest House Performing Arts Venue in Boone.

Rodney Sutton, director of JSMHM exclaims, “It is exciting to be included in a small number of these Wayfaring Strangers concerts/book signing events. Doug Orr and I have been working to make this happen for months and I know that folks from the Appalachian Highlands with strong Scottish ties are looking forward to this unique happening!”

No one is better qualified to take stock of Scots-Irish music than Scotland native Ritchie, host of the NPR highly acclaimed Celtic music program “Thistle and Shamrock, and in “Wayfaring Strangers”, she does just that. Ritchie co-authored the book with Orr, a longtime advocate of folk music who is president emeritus of Warren Wilson College in Swannanoa, North Carolina and the founder of the Swannanoa Gathering. Although their backgrounds are different – Orr is a North Carolina native – the two music lovers achieve perfect harmony on the page, offering in-depth perspectives on a migratory and enduring art form.



Throughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, a steady stream of Scots migrated to Ulster and eventually onward across the Atlantic to resettle in the United States. Many of these Scots-Irish immigrants made their way into the mountains of the Southern Appalachian region. They brought with them a wealth of traditional ballads and tunes from the Scotland and Ireland, a carrying stream that merged with sounds and songs of English, German, Welsh, African American, French, and Cherokee origin. Their enduring legacy of music flows today from Appalachia back to Ireland and Scotland and around the globe. In Wayfaring Strangers, Ritchie and Orr guide readers on a musical voyage across oceans, linking people and songs through centuries of adaptation and change.

From ancient ballads at the heart of the tradition to instruments that express this dynamic music, Ritchie and Orr chronicle the details of an epic journey. Enriched by the insights of key contributors to the living tradition on both sides of the Atlantic, this abundantly illustrated volume includes a CD featuring 20 songs by musicians profiled in the book, including Dolly Parton, Dougie MacLean, Cara Dillon, John Doyle, Pete Seeger, Sheila Kay Adams, Jean Ritchie, Doc Watson, David Holt, Anais Mitchell, Al Petteway, and Amy White.

Speaking to the success of the book, Orr stated – “Needless to say, the response has exceeded our greatest hopes, especially to be in the third printing after six months and to receive a strong review and best seller status in the New York Times. Last fall we had standing room only audiences at book launch events in Scotland, Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham, Charlotte and Asheville and interviews on NPR (nationally as well as ten individual NPR affiliates), PBS and BBC. In August we were invited to the Edinburgh International Book Festival (the largest in the world). Soon thereafter we made presentations at the historic Linen Hall Library in Belfast, Northern Ireland (which houses a significant Robert Burns collection) and then the nearby annual music/book festival at the Ulster-American Folk Park.” Orr added, “Fiona and I look forward to this appearance in Boone”.

The UNC Press will be on hand with copies of the book and the authors will hold a book signing after the concert.

This concert is supported by the following private sponsors; Lynn Hubbard, Merida H. Steele – In Honor of John H. Steele, and The Estate of Joe Shannon. Business sponsors include; Boone TDA, Mountain Times Publishing, and WETS-89.5FM. Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music is also proud to be included as a site on the Blue Ridge Music Trails of North Carolina( This program is funded in part by the Watauga County Arts Council and the Grassroots Funds of the North Carolina Arts Council.

Please note early starting time of 7:00PM. Tickets cost $18 in advance and $20 at the door. Student tickets are $10. Children 12 and younger are admitted free. Advance tickets may be purchased online at Tickets may also be purchased at the Mast General Store (Boone and Valle Crucis), Fred’s Mercantile on Beech Mountain, Stick Boy Bread Company(345 Hardin St, Boone), and Pandora’s Mailbox and the Dulcimer Shop, both in the Martin House on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock.

The Harvest House Performing Arts Venue is located at 247 Boone Heights Dr. Boone, NC. Directions and more info can be found at the JSMHM website –



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