The Crooked Road Ramblers play some hard-driving mountain music and are known for taking home ribbons at most of the fiddlers conventions they attend. The band will be celebrating the release of their newest album, It Ain’t City Music, at the Jones House on Monday night, Nov. 23, with a performance as part of the community center’s Indoor House Concert series.
The Crooked Road Ramblers, named after the winding, musical paths of Southwest Virginia, where most of the band calls home, features old-time fiddle-driven string band music of the Blue Ridge. The band’s leader and fiddler, Kilby Spencer, grew up in a musical household in Whitetop, Virginia. Both of his parents are noted regional musicians who have been performing with the Whitetop Mountain Band for more than four decades. Kilby, and his sister Martha, both absorbed the sounds of their family and region and have become accomplished musicians.
“You can sense that this music goes right down to Kilby’s core being,” says Jones House concert organizer, Mark Freed. “He seems to play both effortlessly and complexly at the same time.”
Spencer serves on the board of the Field Recorders Collective, a publishing organization that releases recordings of traditional musicians. He has an extensive collection of regional field and home recordings, and he has published several volumes through the Collective.
“He really knows the players and tunes from this region as well as anyone,” Freed says. “He can play you several versions of most fiddle tunes with subtle, and sometimes not-so-subtle, differences that one player did versus another.”
The band also features the bass playing and singing of Karen Carr of Galax, Virginia, whose strong vocals lead the band through Carter Family numbers and other folk songs from the southern mountains. Peco Watson of Galax, Virginia, plays banjo with the band. Watson learned much of his style from the legendary clawhammer banjo player and builder, Kyle Creed. Watson also plays with the New Ballard Branch Bogtrotters, an award-winning old-time band.
John Perry plays guitar with the band and also sings. Perry is a retired welder, who played music for many years with the New River Ramblers, a popular regional string band. Donald Hill of Fries, Virginia, also plays rhythm guitar with the band, a role his father played with Spencer’s parents in the Whitetop Mountain Band.
Wayne Dye of Cleveland, Virginia, plays mandolin and sings in the band. Dye is a retired coal miner and multi-instrumentalist who also comes from a musical family.
“The band brings a lot of tradition to the stage,” Freed says. “Only, our stage is up-close-and-personal!”
Performances in the Jones House Indoor Concert Series take place unamplified in the Mazie Jones Gallery, giving patrons a chance to hear the instruments and voices acoustically and close.
“It is a great place to listen to folk music,” Freed adds.
As part of the CD release party, all patrons who purchase a ticket to the performance will receive a complementary copy of the recording.
There is a limit of 40 seats for the performance, so advanced reservations are encouraged. Any open seats will be available for purchase at the door. Doors open at 7:00 p.m., and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m. Seats are $20 per person and will include an opportunity to meet the artist.
For more information about the performance, including reservations and a complete Fall Concerts schedule, please visit www.joneshouse.org or contact the Town of Boone Cultural Resources Department at 828-268-6280.