20 Years on the Lawn
The songs and stories of Appalachia have echoed on King Street for the past 20 years on the lawn of the Jones House, as storytellers and musicians alike come together to bring local music to the people.
Locals and tourists have found their way with lawn chairs and picnic blankets each summer Friday to embrace the heat and Boone’s musical heritage.
Once co-sponsored by the Watauga Arts Council, the concerts on the Jones House lawn are now presented by the town of Boone and the Jones House Community Center.
It was Watauga Arts Council director Cherry Johnson and Diane Hackworth who saw the need for more local music in Boone. While there were talented artists in the area, it always seemed as if they were having to leave the area to perform.
“The community already had numerous opportunities for visual artists,” Hackworth said. “Performing opportunities were slimmer. There were some opportunities in restaurants for musicians. There were some opportunities to hear performers brought in from off the mountain, but not many for the local musicians.”
It was a brainstorming session that brought the two women to the conclusion that the Jones House Community Center should bring music to the community.
The first year of performances brought a new color to the culture of Boone.
“There was such enthusiasm, from musicians, listeners and sponsors,” Hackworth said. “Over the years, this seems to have increased many times over. The first year, we were ecstatic when we broke 50 in attendance. Now, it’s normal to have the yard packed and overflowing.”
This Friday will feature favorites who have played on the porch for years as celebration of the 20th year of free concerts at the Jones House.
Hacksworth will bring her storytelling to the fold along with band Amantha Mill.
Steve and Ruth Smith have also joined the lineup, bringing their Americana sound, featuring Ruth on the hammered dulcimer. “We call ourselves Appalachian heritage music, because it’s about the culture and your family and your faith,” Steve Smith said.
The Smiths have played free concerts at the Jones House for around 10 years now, while Hackworth and Becca Eggers-Gryder, a member of Amantha Mill, have been a part of the concerts since their inception.
This Friday will celebrate the years of free music that the area has come to celebrate, which was the purpose behind the concerts.
“I wanted it to be a celebration of the musicians of the area — Watauga County and surrounding counties,” Hackworth said. “And I wanted the people who lived here and who visited here to experience a feel of community, gathering to hear our own talent.”
According to Smith, “The concerts make it a real social get-together, which is really what music in the mountains is all about.”
Concerts at the Jones House take place at the Jones House Community Center, located at 604 W. King St. in downtown Boone, every Friday from June through September. The free concert starts at 5 p.m., and patrons are encouraged to bring a chair or blanket to sit in on the lawn.
The 2012 concert series is sponsored by MPrints, Stickboy Bread/Melanie’s, Footsloggers, Mast General Store and the Downtown Boone Development Association.
For a complete schedule, visit http://www.boone-nc.org or call (828) 262-4576 for more information.