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Celebrating Old-time Styles at Concert with Traditional Master Artists at JSMHM on July 11

Shelia Kay Adams, Travis Stuart and Rodney Sutton will showcase the skills that earned them these fellowships at this concert.

Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music is proud to present an Old-time Party matinee – “Celebrating with Traditional Master Artists” – with stories, ballads, banjo, fiddle and flatfooting, and featuring Shelia Kay Adams, Travis Stuart and JSMHM’s director, Rodney Sutton.

These three friends were honored this spring by being selected for the 2019 South Arts Folk and Traditional Master Artist Fellowships. This concert will take place on Thursday, July 11 at 2 p.m. at the Harvest House Performing Arts Venue in Boone as a part of JSMHM’s 2019 Matinee Concert Series! This is a non-ticketed, Pay As You Exit, concert! Doors open at 1:15 p.m.

A seventh-generation ballad singer, storyteller and claw-hammer banjo player, Sheila Kay Adams was born and raised in the Sodom Laurel community of Madison County, North Carolina. She is both a North Carolina and National Heritage award winner, raised in an area renowned for its unbroken tradition of unaccompanied singing of traditional southern Appalachian ballads that dates back to the early Scots/Irish and English Settlers in the mid-17th century.

Adams learned to sing from her great-aunt Dellie Chandler Norton and other notable singers in the community. She taught in North Carolina public schools for seventeen years before turning to full-time music and storytelling. Adams has been gracing the Mountain Home Music stages for years, appearing back in the days when Joe Shannon was still running these concerts. 

Bethel native and Haywood County, N.C. resident, Travis Stuart, is a banjo player who has been performing old-time music rooted in Western North Carolina for over thirty years. The backbone of bluegrass, old-time string band music, carries a legacy that in inescapable, and from his earliest days growing up, Stuart was steeped in that legacy.

Brought up in a rich musical community and family, he learned to play banjo from local musicians like Avery County’s Red Wilson. Playing his great-uncle Stanley’s banjo, Stuart has mastered a local old-time picking style and has shared it around the United States and Europe, touring and recording alongside his twin brother Trevor, who passed away in 2016. Stuart is making his second JSMHM appearance, as he and Trevor joined Alice Gerrard for a concert in 2014. 

Rodney Sutton is the director and host for Mountain Home Music. He is the former director of the Green Grass Cloggers and co-founder of the dance troupe, the Fiddle Puppets, now know as Footworks. Sutton is a master at flatfooting, which is the original clogging style of the souther Appalachians. His passion for traditional dance and music goes deep. He had long and wonderful friendships with Willard Watson and Robert Dotson – both old-time dance legends of Watauga County.

Dotson’s “walking step” has become a touchstone for traditional percussive dancers, and Sutton is in demand all over the country teaching it and calling old-time square dances. He will use the fellowship he has been awarded to travel to the west coast of Ireland this September to share flatfooting and to learn the old style, Sean Nos’, Irish dancing which preceded the current choreographed and competition style Irish Step Dancing.

Sutton stated, “It’s kind of amazing that out of nearly 900 applicants that applied for the inaugural South Arts Traditional Master Artist Fellowships, Shelia Kay, Travis and I were the three selected to represent North Carolina (there were also three artists chosen from the Appalachian regions of Tennessee and Kentucky). We have been friends for years. I have known Shelia Kay since our first meeting at fiddler’s conventions in the 1970’s and our friendship has grown while I lived in Madison County for 28 years.” 

Sutton continued, “I first met Travis and his twin brother Trevor as teenagers about 30 years ago when they were first switching over from bluegrass to old-time music. The two of them played for dozens of dances and workshops with me over the years. Shelia, Travis and I continue to end up on staff at the same summer music camps around the country every year.”

When asked to describe this concert, Sutton said, “This matinee will give each of us a chance to showcase the art forms that we were acknowledged for by these fellowships. Shelia will sing some ballads, tell some tales and give some background on her latest writing project. Travis will have the chance to present the different old-time banjo styles that he has mastered, including claw-hammer and Haywood County two-finger picking. The two of them will play some duets on banjo and guitar.”

Sutton added, “With all of that great old-time music, I will not be able to stay seated and I plan on honoring both Robert and Willard by demonstrating their dance steps that have so influenced my flatfooting!”

Business sponsors for this matinee include: Mast General Store, Mountain Times Publishing and High Country Press. Additional support is provided by: The Watauga Arts Council and Grassroots funding from The NC Arts Council.

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).

The Harvest House Performing Arts Venue is located at 247 Boone Heights Dr., Boone. No tickets are needed, but the suggested donation is $10.

Directions and more info on upcoming concerts can be found at the JSMHM website, www.mountainhomemusic.org