Shannon receives Long Leaf Pine award
Joe Shannon joins an elite list in North Carolina as the latest
recipient of the Order of the Long Leaf Pine award.
He will officially be given the honor during a special ceremony conducted by his peers at 4 p.m. on Sunday at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum, during the Mountain Home Music St. Patrick’s Day concert. There is no cost for admission, but donations will go toward Shannon’s medical expenses.
The award is the highest honor a Tar Heel civilian can earn.
Shannon, founder of Mountain Home Music, joins the ranks of Michael Jordan, Billy Graham and Andy Griffith in receiving the recognition.
According to the State Library of North Carolina, the award is presented to individuals who have a proven record of extraordinary service to the state.
Shannon’s contributions to the High Country and North Carolina come in the field of music.
Ada Webster first met Shannon when he started the music series that would become Mountain Home Music in 1994. Webster said their friendship quickly grew, and Shannon eventually played at both of her daughters’ weddings.
Webster was so impressed by Shannon’s efforts in showcasing local music that she decided to become a sponsor and eventually a board member for the concert series.
Following news of Shannon’s illness, questions arose about Mountain Home Music’s future, Webster said, especially when Shannon stepped dwon from his role as director in January.
“The big question and concern was if he wanted us to continue that,” Webster said. “Up until his illness, he did the whole thing (series). He was a hands-on person, and now it’s taking the entire board to do what he did.”
The music series, which alternates venues between various churches and auditoriums in Watauga County, has two main seasons: summer and fall. The summer season starts in May, according to the series’ website.
“Most of the shows are at St. Luke’s Church in Boone, and the other shows are at Blowing Rock churches and the school’s auditorium,” Webster said.
The extent of Shannon’s health was not made public until a concert this past December. During that show, he explained the significance of three quilts that adorned the Mountain Home Music stage. The first was from a board member, Karen James, decorated with images of musical instruments. The second was from his great-grandmother, displaying the wear and tear of being passed down through generations. The third, he revealed, was given to him by a nurse he met while receiving his chemotherapy treatments.
“At that point, they realized how sick and weak he has,” Webster said, noting that it’s unclear at this time if Shannon will attend Sunday’s ceremony.
Shortly thereafter, Webster took it upon herself to get the ball rolling on nominating Shannon for the award.
“Someone had put a letter out or had come up with the idea to nominate him, and I took it from there,” she said. “I contacted Gov. McCrory, and I was told it would take six to eight weeks to get the award to go through … I told them that we didn’t have that much time. Well, it came in the mail last week.”
Shannon’s contributions to local music cannot be underestimated, Webster said, noting that he was instrumental in bringing attention to countless local musicians who would have otherwise gone unnoticed if not for his efforts.
“That was his goal, to present local artists that didn’t have a venue to share their music with,” she said. “That’s what he has been doing all these years. We’ve had lots of local musicians to play at these concerts. Mostly, it has been to promote our culture and local heritage of musicians.”
Shannon is also a superb storyteller.
“At all of our shows, he would tell a story, and it was just really interesting,” Webster said. “We are hoping to do a collection of stories for a DVD.”
Sunday’s St. Patrick’s Day concert will feature performances from several Mountain Home Music favorites — Strictly Clean and Decent, the Mountain Home Bluegrass Boys and members of the Forget-Me-Nots.
The show starts at 4 p.m. March 16 at BRAHM, located at 159 Chestnut St. in downtown Blowing Rock.
For more information on Mountain Home Music, visit http://www.mountainhomemusic.com.