|Crooked Road executive director Jack Hinshelwood is particularly excited about this year’s events. “I think anyone who attends the concerts this year will come away with an even greater appreciation for the music of this region,” he says. “The Homecoming is a unique opportunity to experience one of the world’s richest musical traditions in the place where it was born, performed by the some of the country’s most extraordinary heritage musicians.”
As Steve Smith, President and CEO of leading sponsor Food City noted, “We’re proud to operate in many of the communities along the Crooked Road, making our partnership with the Mountains of Music Homecoming a natural fit. We have some of the finest music you’ll find anywhere right here in Southwest Virginia, and we’re excited to be a part of showcasing it.”
Remarkable voices have always been a key component of past Homecomings, but this year The Crooked Road will feature some of the greatest singers in the bluegrass, gospel and ballad traditions.
“Our theme for the 2017 Homecoming is ‘The Year We Sang,’” says Hinshelwood. “The concerts will feature some of the region’s most inimitable voices, as well as singers, songwriters and interpreters of traditional music from near and far. We’ll explore ballads and experience the songs that have brought people together for hundreds of years in an utterly authentic and tangible setting. We’ll honor great talents that are no longer with us, and listen to the future with a new generation of captivating voices.”
To celebrate these traditions, ballad singers from Ireland, Scotland, England and America will perform in three concerts and one workshop during the Homecoming, providing a remarkably international perspective on this ancient art form. The Blue Ridge Institute at Ferrum College will present an impressive cast of ballad singers on June 9, including Aoife Clancy from Ireland, John Roberts from England, Norman Kennedy from Scotland and Bobby McMillon from North Carolina. The focus on great singing will continue with artists like Doyle Lawson & Quicksilver, who have set the standard for great bluegrass and gospel harmony singing for decades. Influential new voices like Amythyst Kiah and Dori Freeman, who are raking in accolades from music critics nationwide, are also presented this year.
2017 song-focused, marquee concerts at Mountains of Music Homecoming will feature performances by beloved Scottish folk singer Archie Fisher and heritage ballad singers Elizabeth LaPrelle and Sheila Kay Adams. Dr. Ralph Stanley, one of Southwest Virginia’s greatest voices ever, will be honored in two Stanley Brothers tribute concerts featuring performances by Ralph Stanley II, Ricky Skaggs, Larry Sparks and the Clinch Mountain Boys.
Each year the Homecoming celebrates a specific musical tradition besides its own, and this year the Homecoming will spotlight the music of Scotland with Alasdair Fraser, one of the finest fiddlers Scotland has ever produced, along with skilled cellist Natalie Haas. These performers, in addition to the Scottish ballad singers, will make for a great sampling that has profoundly shaped the music and culture of The Crooked Road region.
Catfish and tomato gravy, anyone? A special feature of this year’s Mountains of Music Homecoming are three specially designed Feastival events, each featuring delicious traditional, farm-to-table and New Appalachian cuisine in remarkable settings. Each Feastival also features live performances by outstanding musicians including the powerful voice of Amythyst Kiah at Primland Resort, the bluegrass gospel band, Changing Lanes, highlighting an Appalachian dinner on the ground at historic Dinwiddie Presbyterian Church in Pulaski, and the sweet sounds of Southwest Virginia’s own Dori Freeman singing from a repertoire of American roots and old country music at St. Paul’s new Western Front Hotel. Feastival guests will take home a hand-crafted artifact by a local artisan, taste the mastery of Appalachia’s most noted chefs, and enjoy a delightful presentation by acclaimed cookbook author and Appalachian cultural ambassador Ronni Lundy.
“The Crooked Road region is a hotbed of old time music and we decided to bring together some of the finest old time musicians from across the region for a concert that celebrates all the aspects of old time music,” says Hinshelwood. “It’s appropriately called ‘The Crooked Road’s Old Time Music & Dance Spectacular,’ and the artists will present it all – ballads and fiddle/banjo duets from pioneer times, Carter Family music, banjo contests, flatfoot dancing and energy-pumping, old time string band music.
Homecoming attendees will experience a dazzling array of cultural events, finely tuned to show off the region’s best art, history, craft, adventure and traditional cuisine. Whether mingling with the locals at a farmers market in a picturesque small town or musing in wonder at the spectacular views from a mountaintop after a Clinch River kayak trip, visitors can connect to the deep well of inspiration that has birthed so much extraordinary music and art.
Blue Ridge Beverage Company Director Jim Archer says, “It has been our pleasure to help to preserve our unique, local culture and to promote its music, crafts, and cuisine, while enjoying its unforgettable events. We’re proud to sponsor the Mountains of Music Homecoming and The Crooked Road.”
The 2017 Mountains of Music Homecoming kicks off on Friday, June 9. Find tickets, schedules, guides and a bevy of information at the newly-updated Mountains of Music Homecoming website at mtnsofmusic.com. For more information, contact The Crooked Road at 296.492.2409.
The free 76-page Official Homecoming Guide will be available at all Virginia Welcome Centers, at Southwest Virginia public libraries, and at Southwest Virginia branches of New Peoples Bank, Bank of Marion, and Union Bank & Trust. The Official Guide can also be viewed and downloaded from the website at mtnsofmusic.com
The Mountains of Music Homecoming is made possible through the generous support of the Virginia Tobacco Region Revitalization Commission, Appalachian Regional Commission, Virginia Department of Housing & Community Development, Virginia Tourism Corporation, Virginia Commission for the Arts, Food City, and Blue Ridge Beverage.