The Highland County Arts Council has four fantastic performances lined up for the 2020 Maple Festival. Each Saturday, two different performing groups will take the stage at The Highland Center in Monterey, Virginia.
March 14th will feature country singer and multi-instrumentalist Tyler Hughes at 3:00 p.m. and oldtime musicians Bill Jenkins and the Virginia Mountain Boys at 7:00 p.m.
On March 21st, be sure to hear John Bullard’s Classical banjo at 3:00 p.m. and the toe-tapping Hot Folk music of After Jack at 7:00 p.m.
All Saturday 3:00 p.m. matinee shows can be accessed by Maple Festival keychain at the front doors of the Highland Center. Admission for the 7:00 p.m. shows are just $10 for adults and $5 for students (small children are free). Don’t miss out on your chance to see some of the region’s best performers during the 2020 Highland County Maple Festival!
Let’s take a closer look at our sensational performers:
Saturday, March 14th, 2020 3:00 p.m.
Tyler Hughes hails from Big Stone Gap, Virginia, where he began learning the traditions of mountain music at age 12. A singer and multi-instrumentalist (clawhammer banjo, autoharp, guitar, dulcimer), Tyler brings new life to country music’s old time and classic repertoire, following influential artists like The Carter Family, Little Jimmy Dickens, and Dock Boggs, just to name a few. Tyler makes Appalachian humor and storytelling an important part of his performances and in addition to his rapport with audiences, Tyler is an accomplished square dance caller and an award-winning flat foot dancer. He graduated from East Tennessee State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Bluegrass, Old Time, and Country Music Studies in 2015. He has performed on program series like NPR’s Mountain Stage, Music City Roots, and Jazz at the Lincoln Center. His music has been featured by PBS and The Bluegrass Situation.
Tyler’s performance is made possible in part by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, and the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.
Bill Jenkins and the Virginia Mountain Boys
Saturday, March 14th, 2020 7:00 p.m.
Bill Jenkins and the Virginia Mountain Boys bring to life the authentic music of the Southern Appalachians. This oldtime music is a reflection of the lives of the early immigrants and their descendants who eked out a meager living in the hills and hollows of these majestic mountains. Entertainment options were few and thus self made music became the norm. This mountain music, heavily influenced by Scots-Irish and African rhythms, later gave birth to early Bluegrass and to many early country songs which are also included in the shows. The group performs universally loved, but seldom heard music that brings forth a gamut of emotions. Each song is performed as originally written or as handed down through the ages. Thus, these ballads are undiluted and raw like the emotions they bring forth.
Jenkins has collected countless numbers of these old songs over his 60+ years. His band can sing over 500 songs from memory. With such an extensive repertoire, every show can be different depending on the location, audience, occasion, and Jenkins’ “frame of mind”. As one of the best cross picking guitarist in the country, Bill is backed up by Ken Worrell, singer and guitarist; Joe Gilley on the bass. The world class five string banjo player, Clyde Bailey, contributes “breakdowns” and sings baritone.
The sound of the group differs from most contemporary Bluegrass bands in that it has an older, starker, and rawer sound. Jenkins and Worrell use their voices as instruments as much as their guitars. The ability to swap back and forth from lead to harmony several times during the same song is part of their genius, which has been honed in over 45 years of practice and performance. Moreover, a short history lesson and an explanation about each song is an important part of each show.
The Virginia Mountain Boys’ performance is made possible in part by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, and the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.
Saturday, March 21st, 2020 3:00 p.m.
As a classically trained musician and the first graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music to earn a degree in performance with the banjo, John Bullard has established a critically praised performing and recording career dedicated to exploring the artistic marriage of banjo and classical music. Bullard understands that accepting the banjo—a “folk” instrument with a complex pedigree—into the classical fold is a challenging proposition for traditionalists; the guitar once had to navigate a similar journey to mainstream acceptance. But through three album-length recordings, live performance, and workshops, Bullard continues to introduce the classical banjo to a growing audience worldwide. Bullard’s concert repertoire includes solo, duet, and quartet performances of works from Bach, Vivaldi, Handel and others of the Baroque Period, along with later-period pieces by Schumann and others. More recently, Bullard has begun featuring new work by contemporary American composers, including a Caprice in D minor in the Romantic style, from composer Frank Mullen, and a set of 24 Preludes for Solo Banjo, commissioned from Adam Larrabee. In addition, Bullard is now working on a new collaboration with the genre-fusing composer Joshua Stamper.
John’s performance is funded in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, and the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.
Saturday, March 21st, 2020 7:00 p.m.
After Jack is a musical celebration of togetherness. Combine your most beloved musical memories with a foot-stomping string band and top it off with harmonies that spring straight from the soul of the mountains, and you’ve got After Jack.
After Jack hails from Ferrum, VA, in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The all-female trio performs music from, and inspired by, the rich musical traditions of the region. Founding members Rachel and Emily Blankenship-Tucker met in 2010, while working as professional actors in a regional theatre company, The Blue Ridge Dinner Theatre, and its touring production, the Jack Tale Players. During their tenure with the company, they created original theatrical productions that highlighted a variety of traditional musical styles, produced favorite contemporary plays, and carried on the oral traditions of the Blue Ridge region through dramatizations of traditional folklore and songs. This experience served as a catalyst for the group’s creation, and a foundation for their current work. Songwriter Catherine Backus joined the group in 2019, rounding out the trio, and bringing sparkling instrumentals and her own powerhouse vocals to the mix.
After Jack’s performance is funded in part by the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge, and the Highland County Chamber of Commerce.