Mtn. Home Music to Present Old-Time and Celtic Tunes, World Class Clogging Oct. 17

Published Thursday, October 15, 2015 at 3:57 pm

Joe Shannon’s Mountain Home Music presents Mountain Jam and Dance, an evening of exciting traditional mountain style entertainment, this Saturday night, October the 17th at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium. The show features the Old-time and Celtic tunes and songs by the band Strictly Strings along with the high stepping sights and sounds of the two-time World Champion Green Grass Cloggers. The doors open at 7:00pm with a starting time of 7:30pm.

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Strictly Strings

While the word JAM might conjure up the thoughts of warm biscuits full of delicious preserves made from our mountain’s favorite fall fruits, JAM really is an acronym for Junior Appalachian Musicians. The band Strictly Strings is a product of that very successful program of having 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 mentoring 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. And while they continued to turn heads by holding their own competing against and beating the best Old-time adult bands in the region, it is evident that this band has matured into a seasoned group of performers who no longer just get excited about winning ribbons and prizes at fiddle contest. Folks in the traditional music community here in the High Country have witnessed these teenagers grow musically and professionally over the past few years. With the steady guidance of Gurganus, Strictly Strings has matured into a top-notch performance group that engages their audiences and keeps the show flowing with their lively stage banter.

GreenGrassCloggers pic

Green Grass Cloggers

Rodney Sutton, director of JSMHM stated, “If you have not had the chance to catch Strictly Strings this past year – well you are in for a treat. I caught their set on the porch at the Jones House Summer Concert one Friday this summer as they dazzled the audience with their youthful exuberance on full display. They seamlessly switch instruments and styles of music without missing a beat.” Sutton added, “This group continues to expand its repertoire as they now include some wonderful traditional songs with three part harmony singing, along with tunes that they have composed that sound as though they were written hundreds of years ago!”

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 44th 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.

After claiming the title of World Champions in 1972 and 1974, the GGC’s 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 Folklife 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. The group is made up of two different teams, one located in Greenville, NC – that is where the team was founded back in 1971 with students at East Carolina University, by Dudley Culp. Rodney Sutton, now the director of JSMHM, joined the team in 1972 and played a key role in organizing the “road team” that began to dance professionally in 1977.

Eventually this group moved to the mountains of Asheville, while the remaining part of the team continued to live down east where they have continued to dance for local performances and festivals for all of the past 44 years. Both groups 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. The two teams 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 energetic band never had any problem playing fast enough to create the energy on stage that has made Green Grass Cloggers a welcome change of pace at concerts and festivals for four decades.

This special concert of music and dance honors the memory of Robert Dotson who died on January 13th of this year. Dotson’s last public performance was on the JSMHM stage in July of 2014. He was a mentor and inspiration to the Green Grass Cloggers and countless other dancers around the world. It is the opinion of many folklorists that the Robert Dotson Walking Step has had an equivalent influence on the percussive step dancing of folks around the world that Doc Watson’s flat-picking style has had on guitar players and Earl Scruggs three-finger roll has had on banjo players!

This concert is supported by the following private sponsors: T. C. Farthing Family, Dr. E. Frank and Tara Hancock, Lynn Hubbard, Merida H. Steele – In Honor of John H. Steele, and The Estate of Joe Shannon. Business sponsors include; Advanced Realty, Appalachian Brian Estates, Mast General Store, Mountain Times Publishing, Stick Boy Bread Company, and WETS-89.5FM. 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.com. 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.com/.

 

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