Getting in Tune

Article Published: Jan. 9, 2013 | Modified: Jan. 9, 2013
Getting in Tune

A crowd gathers on the Jones House lawn in downtown Boone to listen to the New River Boys at one of last summer’s concerts.

Photo submitted

Winter only started last month, but the town of Boone has summer on its mind.

With 2013 now under way, the town’s Jones House Community Center is already setting up the porch for its annual music series, Summer Concerts at the Jones House.

“We’re already spreading the word to musicians, though I should say, ‘performers,’” said Mark Freed, the town of Boone’s new cultural programs coordinator. “Last year, we had a magician, some storytellers, a cowboy poet – different kinds of performing arts that we’re all open to, and we’re encouraging folks to get in touch to let us know of their interest.”

Those interested should contact Freed at the Jones House before February.

“If they do it by the first week in February, we give them the best opportunity to get in the hopper for the 2013 series,” he said.

The 2013 series runs from June 7 to Sept. 20, with concerts taking place every Friday at 5 p.m. The concerts, which see musicians performing from the Jones House porch and audience members listening from the shady lawn, have become a Boone summer staple.

Originally started 19 years ago by the Watauga Arts Council, when the organization was based in the Jones House, the concerts have developed a following from High Country residents and visitors alike.

“Free live music downtown is a really wonderful thing,” Freed said, “and I think that’s something that makes the town a better place to be in the summertime – whether you’re setting up your chair at 4 p.m. to save your spot or whether you’re downtown having dinner and just happen by.”

Last summer’s concert series was the first presented without the arts council’s guidance, as the organization had moved from the Jones House earlier in the year, but Freed was pleased to see attendance continue to thrive.

“We certainly had some continuity in that a lot of the musicians and performers who’d been around before continue to come back,” Freed said. “In the audience I saw a lot of the same regulars and a lot of newcomers, too. People came out and enjoyed it, performers still came out and put on great shows, and, in my view, it was a continuation of the great tradition the arts council started, and we’re certainly very thankful the arts council turned it into a success.”

Much of that success, Freed acknowledged, was due to community and business sponsorships, which he’s also seeking for the 2013 series. Sponsorship, he said, helps in several ways – compensation for performers, sound equipment, advertising and more.

“Hosting a concert series for four months has some costs that add up,” he said. “We drag it out – in a good way – so we can get more people performing. We also try to have more than one group perform each week … so we can get more of our wonderful local and regional performers on the porch and in front of an audience. For all those reasons, it takes the help and support of people.”

Sponsorships are available for single concerts or the series as a whole, Freed said.

For those unable to contribute financially, the series also welcomes volunteers to help set the stage, sell musician merchandise, spread the word and even sit on the series’ committee.

“I think the big picture of it is it really takes the whole community to get behind a series like this and make it successful,” Freed said. “It’s not just for passersby and tourists. Many of them come to enjoy a concert, but it takes everybody to get involved.”

To get involved, contact Mark Freed at the town of Boone’s Jones House Community Center at (828) 262-4576 or ( The Jones House is located at 604 W. King St. in downtown Boone. For more information, visit

Thursday Night Jams

For those jonesing for music sooner than later, the community center’s Thursday night jam sessions are still kicking, and Freed said they’ll continue indefinitely.

“We have been playing old-time fiddle tunes and singing folk songs every Thursday, from 7:30 to 11 p.m. at the Jones House, and we welcome musicians and listeners to join the fun,” he said.

The jam sessions are free to all and take place every week.

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