Mountains of Music

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Article Published: May. 16, 2013 | Modified: May. 16, 2013
Mountains of Music

Steve Lewis will perform with the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys for the 2013 season of Mountain Home Music.

Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Mountain Home Music is ready to celebrate.

2013 marks the series’ 20th year of producing concerts to honor the region’s heritage.

“We started back in 1994,” said Joe Shannon, MHM founder and host. “My goal then was to feature local music and musicians. Since the High Country is rich in talent and song, it’s taken 20 years to get going, and there’s still a lot to do. My goal hasn’t changed."

This summer, Mountain Home Music will blend faces familiar and new for a season befitting of a 20th anniversary.

Musical Memories: Memorial Day
David Johnson and the Studio Band
7:30 p.m., Sunday, May 26, 2013
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

Along with Doc Watson, the original Carter Family, and others, David Johnson was in the inaugural class of the Blue Ridge Music Hall of Fame.

David Johnson and the Studio Band are memory makers, and they make memories through music, mostly in recording studios. David Johnson (multi-instrumentalist), Tracy Davis (bass), Danny Crawford (piano), Richard Putnam (piano) and Rick Murry (drums) have helped to share musical memories for Tony Rice, Arthur Smith (“Dueling Banjos”), Glen Campbell, Willie Nelson and thousands of others. Included in this concert will be country classics and patriotic songs, and veterans will be recognized and honored.

Appalachian Roots
The Whitetop Mountain Band
Blowing Rock School Auditorium
7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 1

“The Whitetop Mountain Band … makes my heart glad.” – Jerome Clark, Bluegrass Rambles

According to Shannon, “The Whitetop Mountain Band is wild and wonderful. They are a full-throttle old-time band; they play Scotch-Irish fiddle tunes, and they are all great singers and dancers (flat-foot mountain style).” The band performs locally, nationally and around the world. Performance venues have included Virginia’s Whitetop Fire Department and the Floyd Country Store; festivals in Blacksburg, Va., and San Diego, Calif.; and concerts in Australia, England, Scotland and Wales.

Mountain Traditions
The High Country Ramblers, plus Steve and Ruth Smith
7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 8
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

Steve and Ruth Smith were named Americana Instrumental Group of the Year at the 2013 Appalachian Cultural Music Association Awards.

The High Country Ramblers play bluegrass and traditional mountain music. The band features David Wiseman (mandolin), Jim Smith (guitar), Perry Woodie (banjo and dobro), Ron Shuffler (bass) and Alan Johnson (fiddle). Each musician has deep mountain roots and extends a family musical tradition. For example, Wiseman comes from a family of musicians, including radio and movie stars Scotty and Lula Belle Wiseman, as well as fiddler Jimmy Wiseman. And Alan Johnson’s father played occasionally with the father of bluegrass, Bill Monroe.

Steve and Ruth Smith are masters of the mountain sound. Based mostly on Scottish and Irish traditions, their music includes hammer dulcimer, guitar and banjo.

The Medicine of Music
Big Medicine
7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 15
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

“That’s how string band music is supposed to sound ... absolutely effortless. They’re just a great band. I love this band.” – Garrison Keillor, "A Prairie Home Companion"

Big Medicine knows the medicine of music. They know that music “can move the heart, lift the spirits, make you cry or tickle your feet.” They truly know. Members of the band — Kenny Jackson, Joe Newberry, Bob Head and LaNelle Davis — are some of the most highly regarded contemporary performers of American traditional music.

Piano Man of the Blue Ridge
Jeff Little, with Steve Lewis and Josh Scott
7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 22
Location: TBA

“Jeff Little is a remarkable musician, steeped in the tradition of his native Blue Ridge, yet also a virtuosic and eclectic innovator." — NPR, National Public Radio

Jeff Little is the Piano Man of the Blue Ridge. He grew up listening to Appalachian fiddle tunes, bluegrass hits of the day and early rock ’n’ roll. The music stayed with him and found expression — in the piano. According to Shannon, “There aren’t many fiddle-tune, bluegrass, and rock ’n’ roll piano players, but Jeff Little sure is one.” Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys Steve Lewis and Josh Scott will join Little for this celebration of song.

Bluegrass and Silver Strings
Carolina Crossing and the Silver Strings Dulcimer Band
7:30 p.m., Saturday, June 29
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

In 2012, Carolina Crossing opened for the Oak Ridge Boys.

Carolina Crossing plays traditional bluegrass, gospel and easy-listening ballads. This Watauga County band features Gary Trivette (bass and lead vocals), Curtis Main (banjo), Tyler Thompson (guitar), Dennis Isaacs (guitar) and Caleb Courtner (mandolin). For many years, these goodwill ambassadors of bluegrass have played at local churches and community gatherings. They’ve also played at the Music Fest ’n Sugar Grove and opened for the Oak Ridge Boys.

The Silver Strings Dulcimer Band features the sweet and gentle sounds of the mountain dulcimer. The band features Bill and Jewel Magee, Sarah Borders and Tom Pace.

Bluegrass & Brass
The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys and the King Street Brass
7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 4
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

A musical salute to veterans always has been — and always will be — a special feature of Bluegrass & Brass.

Each year, for 14 years, Mountain Home Music has celebrated the Fourth of July with “Bluegrass & Brass.” The bluegrass is provided by the highly acclaimed Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys. The brass is provided by current and former faculty members from the Appalachian State University Hayes School of Music. According to Shannon, “‘Bluegrass & Brass’ is part bluegrass, part Dixieland and lots of fun.”

From the Irish Heartland

Nuala Kennedy
7:30 p.m., Thursday, July 13
St. Luke’s Episcopal Church

“Fresh, zesty, and magical…” — The Irish Times, 2010

Nuala Kennedy hails from County Louth in the northeast of Ireland. She sings traditional songs in English and Gaelic and plays the flute and low whistle. For this concert, Breton guitarist Gilles Le Bigot will join Kennedy. Pianist Laurie Nicholson and MHM host Shannon (hammer dulcimer, concertina, harmonica) will share a few Irish harp tunes.

Bluegrass: The Early Years
Strictly Clean & Decent and David Johnson
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 3
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

George Shuffler, the brother of SCD’s bass player, Ron Shuffler, was a member of the original Stanley Brother’s Band, and he introduced guitar flat-picking into bluegrass music.

This will be MHM’s third edition of “Bluegrass: The Early Years.” The concert will feature music from the pioneers of bluegrass: Bill Monroe, Flatt & Scruggs, the Stanley Brothers, the Osborne Brothers and others. Perennial MHM favorites Strictly Clean & Decent — Kay and Patrick Crouch and Ron Shuffler — and master musician David Johnson will lead this all-star musical tour.

Honeycomb (and One-Hit Wonders)
David Johnson and the Dixie Dawn Band
7:30 p.m., Saturday, Aug. 10
Blowing Rock School Auditorium

David Johnson and the Dixie Dawn Band was the opening band at MerleFest for its first 18 years.

David Johnson and the Dixie Dawn County Band have created a special concert for MHM for 16 years. This year’s concert will feature one-hit wonders — country music performers who hit it big and then fell into relative obscurity, but whose songs have had staying power.

“Remember ‘Talk Back Trembling Lips,’ ‘It Keeps Right on A-Hurting’ and ‘Honeycomb?’” Shannon asked. “Come hear these and other great old tunes from the 1950s and ’60s.”

A Labor Day Celebration

The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys
Laurelyn Dossett and Scott Manring
7:30 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 1
Rosen Concert Hall, ASU Hayes School of Music

Laurelyn Dosset is a recipient of the N.C. Arts Council Fellowship for songwriting, and she’s had works commissioned by the N.C. Symphony, with which she’s toured.

A Labor Day Celebration is a celebration in story and song that’s dedicated to those who helped build mountain communities: coalminers, railroaders, millworkers, truck drivers and others. The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys are Steve Lewis, Scott Freeman, Josh Scott and David Johnson. Joining the Bluegrass Boys will be singer-songwriter Laurelyn Dossett and multi-instrumentalist Scott Manring, both from Greensboro.


Tickets to Mountain Home Music concerts are $15 in advance and $18 at the door. Student tickets are $10, and children’s tickets cost $5.

Tickets may be purchased at Mast General Store (Boone and Valle Crucis), Fred’s General Mercantile on Beech Mountain, Kudzu Music in Boone and at Pandora’s Mailbox and the Dulcimer Shop, both in the Martin House on Main Street in downtown Blowing Rock.

Tickets may also be purchased online though the Mountain Home Music website, For more information, visit the website or call (828) 964-3392.

The purpose of Mountain Home Music is to honor the music and the musicians of the Appalachian region.

Mountain Home Music is affiliated with the Blue Ridge Music Trails, a project of the North Carolina Arts Council.

Additional Images

Steve Lewis will perform with the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys for the 2013 season of Mountain Home Music.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

The Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys — Steve Lewis, Scott Freeman, Josh Scott, David Johnson and Joe Shannon — will perform during the 20th season of Mountain Home Music.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Joe Shannon isn't just the founder and host of Mountain Home Music; he's also a performer.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

Carolina Crossing, featuring Gary Trivette, will perform June 29 for MHM.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

The Whitetop Mountain Band will perform June 1 for MHM.
Photo submitted

Better known as 'The Piano Man of the Blue Ridge,' Jeff Little will perform at June 22's installment of Mountain Home Music.
Photo by Frank Ruggiero

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