The town of Blowing Rock is not the only thing high in elevation in the Blue Ridge Mountains this fall. The two-time World Champion Green Grass Cloggers’ feet will be flying high as they bring their signature mountain dance to the Blowing Rock School Auditorium on Saturday, Oct. 15.
They will be joined on stage by the exciting, award winning young traditional old-time band, Strictly Strings, in presenting a show titled – “Fiddle Bows and Calico”! Doors open at 7 p.m., with the show beginning at 7:30 p.m.
The band Strictly Strings is a product of the very successful Junior Appalachian Musicians(JAM) program whose goal is to have older master musicians pass along treasured traditional tunes and songs to a new crop of young players. JAM classes take place every Thursday during the school year at the Jones House in Boone and Cecil Gurganus has been teaching students of old-time music there for years.
Strictly Strings is composed of five multi-instrumentalist; sisters, Anissa and Kathleen Burnett, Caleb Coatney, Willow Dillon and their mentor, Cecil Gurganus.
Together for over four years, Strictly Strings has continued to expand their fan base by crafting a professional stage presence that now equals their musical talents. The band’s members, both collectively and individually, continue to pile up first place ribbons and trophies from some of the most prestigious fiddlers convention’s contest in North Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. But, it’s Strictly String’s attention to the fine points of presenting new material with confidence in an entertaining fashion that sets them apart from a lot of the other “youthful” traditional Old-time and Bluegrass bands in the High Country. No longer just “strictly” strings, they have now opened up their “play book” to include many songs sung in beautiful three and four-part harmony, plus newly composed fiddle tunes and songs that sound like they could have been written 150 years ago!
Strictly Strings are just back from a very busy and successful three days at the International Bluegrass Music Associations annual gathering in downtown Raleigh. The IBMA Wide Open Street Festival was held two weeks ago on six outdoor stages in front of the State Capital and it is “the” place to be for bluegrass fans from all over the world. Strictly Strings featured on various stages numerous times throughout the weekend, and on Friday night, the Green Grass Cloggers were lucky enough to have them play for a performance at the huge woodened floored Dance Tent. What a warm up for their combined show, “Fiddle Bows and Calico” in Blowing Rock this Saturday night!
With feet flying, swirling calico skirts, and high-kicking legs, the Green Grass Cloggers(GGC) of Asheville, NC will be joining Strictly Strings on stage throughout the concert. The GGC are celebrating their 45th year of bringing high-energy traditional mountain dance inspired clogging to audiences world-wide. Now, while making a trip from Asheville to Blowing Rock might not seem like world-wide traveling, back in the seventies and eighties, this professional dance troupe performed all across North America, plus making appearance in Central America, China, Scandinavia and Europe.
The Green Grass Cloggers won the title of World Champions in 1972 and 1974 at the Autumn Square-up at Fiddlers Grove, NC. In 1975 the team stopped competing and decided to take their innovative hybrid style of clogging on the road. Their chorography, based on square dance figures and precision steps featuring high kicks and intricate percussive rhythms, set them apart from most “traditional” clogging teams from the Appalachian Mountains. The touring team was composed of 4 couples that allowed them to fit on small stages and for around 15 years they were featured at most of the large folk and bluegrass festivals around the country, including the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival, the Philadelphia Folk Festival, the Lake Eden Arts Festival, the Appalachian String-band Festival, and MerleFest.
Today, the Green Grass Cloggers are back dancing just for the fun of it and they are still performing at local events and festivals all over the state. They have continued to add new dancers over the years and since 1971, there have been over 200 dancers to don the calico costumes of the Green Grass Cloggers. Current and former members get together at least once a year for a reunion, usually on Memorial Day weekend at the Fiddlers Grove Festival. That is where they first danced to the music of Strictly Strings and this exuberant young band never had any problem playing fast enough to create the energy on stage that has made the GGC a welcome change of pace at concerts and festivals for four and half decades.
This concert is dedicated to the memory of two of the GGC’s beloved mentors; the High Country’s Willard Watson from Deep Gap and Robert Dotson from Sugar Grove. Special segments in each half of the show will feature the steps of these noted mountain flatfoot dancers that have contributed to the GGC’s unique style of clogging!
The concert is supported by the following private sponsors: The Ned Trivette Family; Rodney Sutton, in memory of Robert Dotson; Mike and Jane McKee; Lynn Hubbard; Chucklehead Wood Works; and The Estate of Joe Shannon. Business sponsors include Advance Realty, Mast General Store, Stick Boy Kitchen, U-Haul Moving and Storage, and Mountain Times Publications. Additional support is provided by the Boone TDA, the Watauga County Arts Council and the North Carolina Art 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).
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 www.mountainhomemusic.org. 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 Blowing Rock School Auditorium is located at 130 Sunset Drive, Blowing Rock, NC. Directions and more info can be found at the JSMHM website – www.mountainhomemusic.org/
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