SHEPHERDSTOWN, WV- The Performing Arts Series at Shepherd will sponsor the 17th annual Appalachian Heritage Festival in Shepherdstown on Friday, Sept. 28 and Saturday, Sept. 29, 2012. Friday night and Saturday night concerts start at 8 p.m. at the Frank Arts Center Theater on the campus of Shepherd University.
Friday night's program will feature performances by the young heirs to the traditions of Appalachia- hot string band The Fox Hunt; winner of the West Virginia Fiction Award Rebbecca Morris; and banjo virtuoso Adam Hurt and Beth Hartness. Saturday's concert will feature legendary bluegrass band The Seldom Scene. Both concerts will be hosted by award-winning songwriter and musician John Lilly.
Adam Hurt will present a free banjo workshop on Saturday, Sept. 29 at 2 p.m. at the Shepherdstown Opera House.
Tickets are available for purchase at the Shepherd University Bookstore, by calling 304-876-5219, or online at www.shepherdbook.com . Festival Passes (admission to both concerts) are available: $20 general admission; $15 seniors/Shepherd staff; $5 for kids under 18. Single concert tickets are $15 general admission; $10 seniors/Shepherd staff; $5 for kids under 18. Concerts are free to Shepherd Students with Rambler ID.
Funding for The Seldom Scene is made possible through a grant from the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's American Masterpieces: String Theory Touring program in partnership with the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and the West Virginia Commission on the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the students of Shepherd University.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS:
ADAM HURT and BETH HARTNESS
Deemed a "banjo virtuoso" by the Washington Post, Adam Hurt has fused several traditional old-time idioms to create his own elegantly innovative clawhammer banjo style, having been introduced to the banjo at age eleven in his native Minnesota. A respected performer and teacher of traditional music, Adam has played at the Kennedy Center and conducted banjo workshops at many venues around the country and abroad. Adam has placed in or won most of the major old-time banjo competitions including Clifftop, Mount Airy, and Galax, and won the state banjo championships of Virginia, West Virginia, and Ohio, as well as the state fiddle championships of Virginia and Maryland.
Joining him on stage will be guitarist Beth Hartness. Raised on a tobacco farm in Caswell County, North Carolina,Beth was introduced to old-time music while living in Charlotte, NC. While attending fiddlers' conventions throughout the '80s, Beth discovered that her unique style of fingerpicking resembled that of some of the Round Peak guitar players in Surry County, North Carolina, such as Paul Sutphin and Chester McMillian. Chester in particular became a mentor for Beth. Beth has been a member of numerous award-winning string bands, including the Moonshine Monsters and the Lightnin' Bugs, both first-place winners of the traditional band competition at the Appalachian String Band Music Festival in Clifftop, West Virginia (2005 and 1995, respectively).
THE FOX HUNT
The Fox Hunt are a Jefferson County-based string-band that play traditional fiddle music and original alt-country music through a single condenser microphone. With a deviant cast of characters and some truly exceptional talents, the Fox Hunt showcases the musicianship of John Miller, Ben Townsend, Matt Metz, Lars Prillaman, and Darrin Hacquard. Pioneering the next generation of music, The Fox Hunt plays where the highway meets the honky tonk. Rooted in old-time, the band blurs the lines of musical genres and produces new music that is built to last.
The Fox Hunt melds the bright harmonies and acoustic instruments characteristic of early country/folk with rough, smoky, rock and roll lyrics and arrangements. Their strong writing and instrumentation is rounded out by raucous live performance, making them as comfortable in a rowdy punk rock bar as they would be on your back porch.
After 40 years, The Seldom Scene has become one of the single largest contributers to the progression of bluegrass from the early days of Flatt and Scruggs and Bill Monroe to the more contemporary sounds that they founded. Seldom Scene continues to excel in the bluegrass scene and has received critical acclaim for their work. Their CD, Scenechronized, was nominated for a Grammy award. The Seldom Scene has toured the world and performed at the White House many times, earning them the moniker, "America's Bluegrass Band."
The band consists of Dudley Connell (guitar/lead and baritone vocals), Ben Eldridge (banjo and scatt singing), Lou Reid (mandolin/lead and tenor vocals), Fred Travers (dobro/lead and tenor vocals), and Ronnie Simpkins (bass/baritone vocals). One of the Scene's founding members, banjo player Ben Eldridge, has been with The Seldom Scene since its inception in 1971 and still performs with the same fire and enthusiasm that characterized the band's early days as a progressive group that took Bluegrass music to new heights. Dudley Connell plays a masterful guitar and provides powerful lead vocals for The Scene, which has a reputation for challenging the bounds of Bluegrass; and Connell's musical virtuosity has pushed the group beyond these bounds. Connell is a former member of The Johnson Mountain Boys. Playing dobro for The Scene is one of the most respected dobro players on the bluegrass circuit today, Fred Travers. He is also an accomplished vocalist who brings solid lead and harmony to The Scene. Travers is a
former member of the Gary Ferguson Band and the Paul Adkins Band. Ronnie Simpkins plays rock-steady bass for the group and provides the bass vocals in The Scene's quartets as well. Simpkins has been performing Bluegrass music since childhood and is a former member of The Tony Rice Unit. Lou Reid, who plays mandolin for The Scene and provides the tenor vocals, is also a former member of Ricky Skaggs's band Quicksilver, and he currently fronts his own group, Carolina. On lead, or when providing harmony, Reid's vocals are the epitome of the powerful, "high, lonesome" tenor that is the signature of Bluegrass music.
Hosting both Festival concerts once again this year is John Lilly -- musician/ songwriter/ folklorist and editor of West Virginia's Goldenseal magazine. A versatile performer, John sings (and yodels) in the style of Jimmie Rodgers, can play Carter-style with the best of them, and also has a diverse repertoire of traditional tunes that he has learned from old-time musicians across the region.