Fans of Southern Appalachian old-time string band music are in store for a treat Friday evening as Strictly Strings and the Sheets Family bands perform in downtown Boone, continuing the 2018 Summer Concerts at the Jones House series.
The Sheets Family will get the evening started at 5:00 p.m., bringing their special blend of local and regional songs and tunes with tight mother-daughter harmony singing and fiddle-banjo-guitar accompaniment. Husband-and-wife, Randy and Deborah Jean Sheets, make up the band, along with their daughter, Kelly Snider playing fiddle and singing.
Randy Sheets grew up in Grayson County, Virginia, surrounded by a musical family and community. Randy took up the banjo, and he was a regular at the regional fiddlers conventions, square dances, and old-time music events. Deborah Jean was also a banjo player, guitar player, and singer when she and Randy met. Kelly grew up attending old-time music events and gatherings with her family and doing a lot of singing. After high school, Kelly took up the fiddle and started performing with her parents and the Sheets Family band solidified.
Since forming the official trio band, the Sheets Family have put out two recordings, which include lots of traditional tunes and songs the band learned from regional artists like Ola Belle Reed, the Carter Family, the Blue Sky Boys, and other early country and old-time musicians. The band has also recorded a handful of original songs that Deborah Jean wrote.
“Hearing the Sheets Family perform is kind of like sneaking a listen into their living room,” says concert organizer, Mark Freed. “Their musical chemistry comes so natural, and we are all invited to the reunion!”
Strictly Strings will follow the Sheets Family at Friday’s concert bringing their youthful energy to the porch with old-time string band tunes and songs. Strictly Strings formed several years ago out of the Jones House Junior Appalachian Musicians program. Band members Anissa and Kathleen Burnett, Caleb Coatney, and Willow Dillon were all students of instructor Cecil Gurganus. Together they made up an advanced fiddle class, with Gurganus on guitar and Coatney on mandolin and banjo. The class started getting invitations to perform, and soon the band officially formed.
Since forming, Strictly Strings has recorded an album and performed at some of the major events and festivals across the state and region. In the last year, the band performed at the National Folk Festival, the International Bluegrass Music Association annual conference, Merlefest, and many more stages along the way.
“Strictly Strings is a really exciting old-time string band,” Freed says. “They practice a lot, as individuals and as a band, and it comes across in their performances with tight arrangements and harmonies.”
The Summer Concerts at the Jones House are free and open to the public. Concerts are held every Friday in June, July, and August, starting at 5:00 p.m., and they are held rain or shine. Patrons are encouraged to bring their own chairs or blankets to enjoy the music from the Jones House lawn. Alcoholic beverages are permitted on the Jones House property, if patrons are of legal age and bring their own beverages. No open containers are allowed beyond the Jones House property. Friendly pets are permitted on leash.
The 2018 Summer Concerts at the Jones House sponsors include the Downtown Boone Development Association, Mast General Store, MPrints, Melanie’s, Stick Boy Bread Co, Rosemary Horowitz and Jerry Hyman, and Burton Moomaw Acupuncture.