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Home Craft Days festival boasts musical talent from around the country

staff report • Oct 13, 2012 at 10:50 AM

The Mountain Empire Community College Home Craft Days, which began as a folklore class project in 1972, has consistently featured homegrown talent of the highest order.

Thanks to a partnership with Wise Pro Art, the musicians have gone from homegrown to nationally known.

The 41st annual Home Craft Days will be held Friday through Sunday at MECC, located on U.S. Route 23 just south of Big Stone Gap, Va. Admission is free to all the festival events.

The festival will begin at 6 p.m., Friday with a flat-picking and fiddling concert in the college’s Goodloe Center. Performing will be West Virginians Adam Hager and brothers Dan and Robin Kessinger, nephews of legendary fiddler Clark Kessinger. Joe Newberry and mandolinist Mike Compton will provide solid bluegrass, early country and classic old-time “brother-duet” music, while festival regulars Dale Jett, grandson of A.P. and Sara Carter, and Hello Stranger carry on the vocal legacy of the Carter Family.

The program will also feature newcomers from an entirely different cultural tradition in the Cajun Country Revival, a supergroup of American roots musicians featuring accordionist/singer Jesse Lége and Joel Savoy, who have joined forces with Caleb Klauder and members of the Portland-based Foghorn Trio to bring the sounds of Louisiana bayous and honky-tonk dance halls to the mountains.

Finally, autoharp maestro and entertainer Bryan Bowers will return to touch hearts and funny bones. Bowers has toured, recorded and performed coast-to-coast and around the world, breathing new life into the autoharp.

The festival will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, with more than 30 musical, storytelling and dancing performances under the big tent. Saturday’s lineup lists Todd Meade and Debbie Adams, Anndrena Belcher and the Wild Boys, Angie DeBord, the Mountain Music Makers, George Gibson, Bill McCall and Southern Country, Dale Jett and Hello Stranger, Jack Wright, The Scott County Boys, Ron Short, Jimmy and Ada McCown, the MECC Summer Music School, Vincent Ringrose, Change of Pace, Eddie Lynn Snodderly, and Rich and the Po’ Folk.

Sunday’s schedule will feature Richard Phillips and Ron Samples, Pam Randolph and Doug Dorschug, Charlie Engle and Megan Clay, Glenn Roberts and Darrell Stapleton, Debra Jean and Randy Sheets, Lee Boy Sexton, The Roan Mountain Moonshiners, Lee Smith Singers, White Top Mountain Band, Papa Joe Smiddy, The Wolfe Brothers, Fred O’Quinn and the Blue Grass Travelers, Jimmy Mullins and the Biscuit Burners, Nina Ketron and Just Friends, and Town Mountain Bluegrass Band.

The Center Stage Cloggers, under the direction of Velissa Stallard, will perform both days.

In addition to the entertainment, more than 200 crafters and artists will sell and demonstrate traditional Appalachian mountain folk arts and crafts, painting, pottery, needlework, woodcrafts, whittling, blacksmithing, quilting, broom making, corn grinding and many others. Visitors can purchase freshly pressed apple cider from local orchards, locally grown fall vegetables and freshly ground corn meal. Local authors will sell books with Appalachian themes.

Festival foods range from familiar items, like soup beans, corn bread and ham biscuits to more exotic fare from Thailand, Mexico and Poland.

On-campus and off-site shuttle parking is available.

For more information, call (276) 523-2400 or visit www.homecraftdays.org.

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