NORTON -- When the distant echoes of traditional mountain music reverberate out of a forested enclave on the western edge of Norton, addressing the first hint of autumn with the refrains of hauntingly beautiful harmony, folks around these parts know it must be that special time of year again.
And so it is. The 47th Annual Dock Boggs and Kate Peters Sturgill Memorial Festival begins at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Country Cabin II in Norton.
Headlining this year's locally cherished music fest will be Thistle Dew, a vocal trio dedicated to preserving and perpetuating two forms of music nearest their hearts -- Celtic and Appalachian Traditional -- by blending the best of both to deliver what they call "Celtalachian' music.
Laura Laughridge, Ellie Hjemmet and Rhodyjane Meadows play several instruments each and provide magical harmonies wherever they perform as Thistle Dew.
Another acclaimed group, Sycamore Hollow, will kick of the musical festivities at 1 p.m. Formed just two years ago, Sycamore Hollow made an immediate splash by transcending bluegrass genre lines.
Steeped in the high, lonesome sound, Sycamore Hollow has taken traditional roots music and blended it with upbeat, energetic performances to create their own unique sound. The band features Neil Huff on lead vocals and mandolin, J.R. Quesenberry of lead guitar, Lex Johnson on banjo, Walter Shell on rhythm guitar, Andrew Beverly on uptight bassand Morgan Province on vocals.
Not quite traditional bluegrass and not quite country, one thing is for certain: following a performance, all audiences will defintely be in a Sycamore Hollow state of mind.
The packed lineup for Saturday's fest also incudes Cross Country Bluegrass, Papa Joe Smiddy, Appalachian Strings, The University of Virginia's College at Wise Bluegrass Band, Mountain Empire Community College's Mountain Music School String Band, and to remind folks it's more than okay to prance and dance to Saturday's fare, the Country Cabin Line Dancers will show how it's done and then some.
Cross Country Bluegrass is a blend of veteran performers from the fields of bluegrass, country and gospel genres, combining their talents to play all three music genres in a delightful banquet of vocals and harmonies.
Appalalchian Strings formed about 30 years ago and played all over the country. Lawrence Winstead, Cora Winstead Horne, Kevin Horne and Verlin Sanders have been long time favorites of local, regional and beyond venues.
And what can be said about Joseph 'Papa Joe' Smiddy that hasn't been said a thousand times over already?
The iconic and much beloved UVa-Wise chancellor emeritus has traveled and played mountain music for over seven decades as well as been a fixture at the Dock Boggs Festival since its inception. Papa Joe has played with Dock Boggs and Kate Peters Sturgill as well as playing with the Reedy Creek Band for many years.
So, yes, it's that time of year again when the first blush of autumn fills the air along with masterful music of the mountains. The Country Cabin II is just west of the City of Norton right off U.S. Route 58-A Business, the old and stunningly scenic route connecting Norton and Appalachia. Ya'll come, hear?!comments powered by Disqus