By Erika Giovanetti
June 6, 2013. The Blowing Rock Art & History Museum (BRAHM) celebrates the opening of their newest exhibit, “Strings n’ Things: Old Time Mountain Music,” with a free family day event this Saturday, June 8, from 12 to 3 p.m.
The exhibit’s opening celebration offers live music and performances, crafts and more. Kid-friendly refreshments are provided, too. The event is funded in part by the Watauga County Arts Council and grassroots funds of the North Carolina Arts Council.
“It starts off with a 45 minute performance by Rick Ward inside, and we’re hoping to have some crafts for kids, refreshments and other activities outside, weather permitting,” educational program director of BRAHM, Leila Weinstein, said.
Watauga County native Rick Ward tells stories of old Beech Mountain lore, while also displaying his musical talents in the style of the area. The second performance, featuring old-time string band Trevor McKenzie & Friends, takes place on the porch of the museum. The event closes with musician and luthier, Charlie Glenn, who plays music on the instruments he built. Glenn will also talk about making his instruments.
Some of the featured artists have links to a significant local folk music family. Charlie Glenn’s wife is kin to Buna Hicks and the Hicks family, who are a renowned musical family from Watauga County. Rick Ward is part of the family, also.
“Strings n’ Things,” which runs until September 9, is a fun and historical look at the old-time music and traditions of the Appalachian Mountains. The exhibit is located in the Historic Objects Gallery.
“What we try to do in the exhibit is tell the story of mountain music, and also of the different multicultural influences in mountain music,” Weinstein said.
The gallery hosts a variety of notable items and artifacts from the High Country’s music sphere. A replica of Joel Sweeney’s banjo is on display in the gallery. Sweeney is known as one of the first white people to play the banjo.
“We also have a field recording device used by W. Amos Abrams that he used to collect folk music, probably in the ‘30s and ‘40s,” said Weinstein.
The exhibit also features dulcimers, banjos and fiddles crafted by local luthiers. Alongside the instruments on display are some neat photographs and 78 rpm records.