'Rising Stars' ; FOOTMAD to Present Students'; Appalachian Music Concert at Culture Center; Free Clogging Lessons to Be Given

By Bauman, Jennifer A. | Charleston Gazette Mail, February 3, 2016 | Go to article overview

'Rising Stars' ; FOOTMAD to Present Students'; Appalachian Music Concert at Culture Center; Free Clogging Lessons to Be Given


Bauman, Jennifer A., Charleston Gazette Mail


Friends of Old-Time Music and Dance's "Rising Stars concert is proof that the Applachian music scene continues to survive and evolve in the Mountain State, driven by the talent, energy and creativity of college students. Student musicians from Davis & Elkins College's Appalachian Ensemble and West Virginia University's Bluegrass Band will perform a mixture of traditional ballads, old- time tunes and bluegrass, starting at 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the West Virginia Culture Center, state Capitol Complex, Charleston.

The WVU Bluegrass Band was launched in 2014 by Travis Stimeling, professor of music history, so he could share his passion for the knowledge, wisdom and value of Appalachian music traditions.

"That's what I love, Stimeling said. "The younger generation gets access to this music and they help keep it alive.

Stimeling said two-thirds of his students are classically trained music majors, accustomed to a more formal performance style.

"They love it, he said. "When it comes to old-time bluegrass, students have lots of freedom to improvise in the ensemble, which gives them creative power.

Kenneth Beezley is one of the few non-music majors in the WVU Bluegrass Band. The Charleston native, who is a second-year graduate student in the WVU forestry program, has had a fascination with the jaw harp for more than a decade.

"I liked it because I was never around anyone else whoever played it before, Beezley said, "so that just got me more interested, because the jaw harp is kind of an obscure instrument that's one of the oldest in the world.

Beezley has spent the past semester studying precursors to popular bluegrass, with roots in old mountain songs, handed down from generation to generation.

"Oh, yeah, he confirmed. "Our group focuses on old-time music, so we enjoy the fact we're keeping a little piece of that type of music culture alive to introduce it to other folks. Plus, people haven't heard the arrangements we might play.

Scotty Leach of Centralia, Washington, is a senior at Davis & Elkins College, where he plays the fiddle in the Appalachian Ensemble while he completes a joint degree in religion/philosophy and computer science.

Leach said his mother and father are old-time music performers who started teaching him how to play the fiddle at the age of 5, but he admits he avoided their cherished music when he started his own band and served as its pianist. …

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