The tradition of bluegrass music dates back to the earliest days of American discovery. Early settlers (particularly the Scotch-Irish who immigrated to Appalachia) wrote songs about day to day experiences in this new rural land, songs reflecting life in the mountains, the forests, and the farms. As the centuries progressed and new musical ideas and instruments were introduced to the US, Bluegrass underwent a series of transformations that came to truly define the spirit of this music. This style is an acoustic driven, spirited force of banjos, guitars, fiddles, harmonicas, and high, lonesome vocal harmonies. But most of all, it is a whole lot of fun.
The monthly concerts put on by our college’s Fiddle, Banjo, and Dance Club provide just that. Every second Saturday of the month the atmosphere of Edwards hall changes dramatically as families, couples, and true bluegrass lovers pile into 117 to have themselves a good old time. At last Saturday’s performance I witnessed a huge crowd of over 150 pack into that room for an evening of hardcore bluegrass music and flat foot dancing. With smiles all around me I was immediately swept away by the feelings of happiness and enjoyment that were heavy in the air.
The first band to perform was The Highlanders. The group consisted of 2 guitars, bass, mandolin, Fiddle, and Banjo, with everyone taking a turn at harmonized vocals. The group seemed to have been injected with energy, blazing through tunes with a near virtuoso quality to their down home playing. After a number of songs to dance to, they regaled the crowd with a humorous mountain rendition of The Night Before Christmas.
After that the next band, Whitetop Mountain, took the stage. Suddenly the dance floor was packed with more than 50 people eager to dance away their frustrations to the music of this long time Virginia Favorite. The Whitetop Mountain band is a family based group, tracing their existence all the way back to the 1940’s. They play with a big, full sound, showcasing a soaring violin and powerful vocals. The musicians are all multi-talented, playing many different instruments throughout, and taking turns singing emotional harmonies and incredible solos.
Upcoming performance dates:
January 10, 2009
Zephyr Lightning Bolts
February 14, 2009
March 14, 2009
Adam Larkey & Mountain Time
April 11, 2009
The VW Boys