By Jesse Wood
March 18, 2014. The mood at the Mountain Home Music’s St. Patrick’s Day concert at Blowing Rock Art & History Museum on Sunday was joyous, inspirational and sad.
“You know? All of those emotions, and everybody felt that,” MHM Chair Ada Webster said on Tuesday morning.
MHM founder Joe Shannon was honored and recognized at the concert on Monday. Shannon, who was recently awarded the Order of the Long Leaf Pine by Gov. Pat McCrory, has been battling cancer since he was diagnosed in late 2012. Shannon founded the music series 20 years ago but recently stepped down from his role as executive director. He plans to leave the High Country soon and live with family in Florida as his health continues to spiral downward.
“I am so glad everyone came out,” Webster said. “It was the kind of sendoff we wanted to have for Joe.”
Webster added that more than 200 people packed BRAHM to say their goodbyes to Shannon and listen to the bands Strictly Clean and Decent, The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys and The Forget-Me-Nots play their Celtic repertoire during the all-Celtic St. Patrick’s Day benefit concert to assist Shannon with his medical expenses.
David Finck, a MHM board member and father of two members of The Forget-Me-Nots, said the mood was a mixture of “tremendous joy and bittersweet sorrow.”
Since Shannon didn’t have the energy to attend the entire concert, he was wheeled into the event about halfway through.
“[And then there was] just a spontaneous roar. It was like Nelson Mandela entered the room. A tremendous feeling of love and inspiration swept over everybody,” Finck said, acknowledging the impact Shannon, a career educator, has had on the community.
Lonnie Webster took photos of the event and said that Shannon gave his guitar to Steve Lewis and hammered dulcimer and banjo to David Johnson – both of whom were members in the MHM house band, the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys.
In an email Lonnie Webster wrote, “The event was a tribute to Joe Shannon and an opportunity for those people who have been touched by his music, writing, stories, teaching and humanity to say a final farewell before Joe travels to Florida to stay with his brother Frank Shannon as his health continues to decline.”
Webster continued, “Lots of tears and smiles were shared yesterday. Joe may have been the most upbeat person there.”
See more stories about Shannon and MHM’s transition.
March 10, 2014: Shannon Awarded Order of the Long Leaf Pine