Mountain Home Music
Changing leaves, ski slopes, higher education, cool summers and the Blue Ridge Mountains are just a few of the things that attract people to the High Country. For Joe Shannon, it was a love of Appalachian music.
"More than anything else, music was the reason for the move ... I wanted to be immersed in traditional music," said Shannon, who moved from Florida to the North Carolina mountains in the mid-1970s.
Mountain Home Music was born out of Shannon's love for Appalachian music. Shannon wanted to provide more opportunities for musicians to play on a regular basis, starting the popular concert series in 1994 at Boone's Our Daily Bread.
Sixteen years later, Mountain Home Music has grown into larger venues and a loyal following.
Shannon has produced more than 200 Mountain Home Music concerts, featuring over a thousand local and regional performers.
This fall sees the first official live concert album from Mountain Home Music: "Getting Started." It is the initial release to be issued from the vast collection of series' concert recordings.
On "Getting Started," Shannon wanted to especially feature musicians who have been a part of Mountain Home Music from the very beginning. Those performers include Steve Lewis, David Johnson, Scott Freeman and Wayne Henderson.
No doubt, these performers have appeared on the Mountain Home Music stage the most, so it is appropriate that its Live Concert Recording Series starts with a showcase of their talent. "Getting Home" is a hearty sampling of the skilled artistry displayed at Mountain Home Music.
Half of "Getting Home" is performed by the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys, which includes veterans Lewis and Freeman. Skeeter and the Skidmarks and Strictly Clean & Decent also appear, along with several other performers.
"Getting Started" meets the Mountain Home Music mission in celebrating the diverse styles of Appalachian performing arts. Hints of traditional Irish and Scottish music, English ballads and African-American blues are all heard on the album.
Banjos, fiddles and mandolins reign on "Getting Started," along with their incredibly skilled and experienced handlers. Known as the Harlem Globetrotters' theme song, "Sweet Georgia Brown" features the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys trading lively licks. Their "Fiddle Medley: Bill Cheatam/Old Joe Clark/Liberty" is just as rousing.
Primarily consisting of stringed instruments, there are a few exceptional additions. Well-known player Jeff Little lights up the piano keyboard on the jazz standard "Bye Bye Blues." Founder Shannon lends his harmonica to the elegant "Shenandoah."
"Who Will Watch the Home Place" is one of the two songs on "Getting Started" featuring vocalists. The haunting ballad, sung by Strictly Clean & Decent's Kay Crouch, goes further than the music in conveying the struggles of Appalachian folk through her poignant delivery of the lyrics.
With its impressive talent, one might wonder why Shannon is calling the first installment of Mountain Home Music live recordings "Getting Started." Of the musicians, Shannon says "when one is asked how he or she learned to play so well, the answer is 'I'm still learning.' And in this sense, they are getting started -- getting started over and over again."
This humility and the eagerness to share Appalachian heritage with others is what brings people back to Mountain Home Music over and over again. Providing its live recordings for sale now allows fans to bring their Mountain Home Music experiences home with them. "Getting Started" serves as a filling first course to the artful feast to come from the MHM archives.
"Getting Started" is available online at MountainHomeMusic.com, at Fred's General Mercantile in Beech Mountain, Rydell Music Center in Boone, Pandora's Mailbox or The Dulcimer Shop in Blowing Rock.