Tyler Hughes

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 Hughes will perform March 14th at The Highland Center in Monterey, VA.

This 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.  

Bill Jenkins and the Virginia Mountain Boys will perform March 14th at 7:00 p.m. at The Highland Center in Monterey, VA.

This 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.

John Bullard

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 Bullard performs March 21st at The Highland Center in Monterey, VA.

This 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.

After Jack

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 is committed to using their voice to support regional environmental activism. The group has been particularly committed to the fight against the Mountain Valley and Atlantic Coast Pipelines, which threaten Virginia’s water and natural resources, and the safety of rural communities. 

At present, the group is working on their second full-length album, which will be released on Travianna Records. This will be the band’s second collaboration with Aaron Ramsey, following their 2014 album, Echo. After Jack’s touring radius has spanned much of the US, including tours west as far as Colorado, north to New England, and south to Georgia. In addition to concert performances, the group also offers educational performances, which can include dramatized folktales featuring strong female protagonists, and performed in story theatre style. The band also offers educational workshops in songwriting, creative writing, storytelling, and traditional music. 

After Jack will perform March 21st at 7:00 p.m. at The Highland Center in Monterey, VA.

This 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.

Dr. Levine and The Dreaded Blues Lady

Saturday, May 9th, 2020 7:00 p.m.

Dr. Levine and The Dreaded Blues Lady is comprised of Lorie Strother on vocals and Stephen Levine on guitar. This energetic duo performs a diverse selection of acoustic music styles. Though blues is their focus, they also sometimes surprise audiences with Jazz, R&B, Soul, and Classic Rock tunes.

Lorie Strother can’t remember a time when she wasn’t singing because it came so naturally. Strother has been performing and recording her interpretation of acoustic blues since the early 1990s. Corey Harris has called Strother “a real blues woman [who’s] got soul,” Living Blues Magazine described her singing as “assertive, expressive and sensitive,” Carl Larsen of the Daily News Leader states that Lorie “sings the real true blues with a big booming, bluesy voice.”

Stephen Levine is a historian at the University of Virginia who studies and teaches about the evolution and cultural significance of blues music. Levine started playing the guitar when he was eleven years old focusing primarily on folk and classic rock. After his first listen to Robert Johnson’s Crossroad Blues in the mid 1990s he became obsessed with classic pre-war blues. Patrick Bagley of the Franklin Journal describes Stephen’s guitar playing as “powerful” with “biting slide guitar work.”

Dr. Levine and the Dreaded Blues Lady will perform at 7:00 p.m. at The Highland Center in Monterey, VA. Admission is $10 at the door. Doors open at 6:30.

This performance is made possible in part by funding from the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge.

Robert Jospé Express

Saturday, June 13th, 2020 7:00 p.m.

The Robert Jospé Express with Butch Taylor on keyboards, Dane Alderson on electric bass and Brian Mesko on guitar, play a percussive driven mix of jazz, rock, funk and Latin with a contemporary electric sound.

Butch Taylor played and recorded with the Dave Matthews Band for over ten years and Dane Alderson from Perth, Australia amazes audiences with his virtuosity and lyricism on the bass. As a quartet the Express includes funky jazz and rock guitarist Brian Mesko.

Robert Jospé Express released a double CD in October of 2014. The double CD features the trio with Butch, Dane and Robert on “Classics”, a mix of classic jazz compositions and styles and the quartet on “Doin’ It Up”, a mix of funky originals and well known rock and pop tunes.

Robert Jospé Express will perform at 7:00 p.m. at The Highland Center in Monterey, VA. Admission is $10 at the door. Doors open at 6:30.

This performance is made possible in part by funding from the Virginia Commission for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge.