'Songs of the Civil War' at MHM Saturday
Sometimes when words fall short, music can fill this void.
This is the premise of this week's Mountain Home Music concert, a musical version of Joe Shannon's play, "Blue Ridge Blue & Gray."
The play tells the fictional story of a circuit-riding Methodist minister during the Civil War. The Rev. Levi Norris had one church in Boone that leaned Confederate, one church in Blowing Rock that leaned Union, and one church in Todd that was about evenly split.
To complicate matters even more, Norris was invited, and he accepted, an invitation to preach at Camp Mast, a training locale for Watauga and Ashe County home guards.
To survive - physically, politically and theologically - Norris tried to remain neutral. But as the war ebbed on, neutrality became increasingly difficult, if not impossible. So the story goes.
"This week's production will not be a full production of the play," Shannon said. "Rather, parts of the play will be used to set up some of the songs and music of the era."
This includes, in part, "Be Thou My Vision," "Jacob's Ladder," "Angel Band," "Just Before the Battle Mother," "Mole in the Ground," "There is a Fountain," "The Riddle Song" and "How Can I Keep from Singing."
Strictly Clean & Decent (Kay and Patrick Crouch, plus Tom Kuhn), Little Windows (Mark and Julee Weems), Marion Edwards and Joe Shannon will provide the music.
Strictly Clean & Decent have been on the Mountain Home Music stage each year since the concert series started back in 1994. And each year, the performance has been different: Sometimes bluegrass, sometimes blues, sometimes Celtic, sometimes folk and gospel, they can do it all.
Little Windows is versatile, too, but their forte is Celtic music and a cappella hymns. They perform throughout the United States and Europe, and they have been featured several times on Fiona Ritchie's NPR international broadcast, "The Thistle & Shamrock."
Marion Edwards sings black gospel, and she has been in every performance of "Blue Ridge Blue & Gray," dating back to the first performance on Dec. 3, 1998 at Farthing Auditorium.
Joe Shannon is the founder and host of Mountain Home Music.
The concert will be at the Blowing Rock School Auditorium on Sunset Drive in Blowing Rock. Starting time is 8 p.m.
Tickets for "Songs of the Civil War" are $15 in advance and $18 at the door and may be purchased at the Mast Store (Boone and Valle Crucis), Fred's Mercantile on Beech Mountain, Rydell Music Center 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 at http://www.mountainhomemusic.com. 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.