The UVa-Wise Bluegrass Band was born a few years ago when the East Tennessee State University Bluegrass Band performed as part of the UVa-Wise 50th anniversary celebration, prompting some to question why UVa-Wise, located in a hotbed of traditional mountain music, didn’t have a bluegrass band of its own.
The college’s band director and music instructor, Richard Galyean, decided that evening there would be a UVa-Wise Bluegrass Band and eventually got organized with only a few students. The following year, UVa-Wise guitar instructor Chris Rose was tabbed to oversee the ensemble, and the group quickly carved its own niche in the region’s mountain music traditions.
In 2016, the group recorded its first full length CD, “Pass It On,” which earned enthusiastic reviews and was featured on several radio programs. Last May, the band performed for the Transatlantic Dialogue Conference in Luxembourg. The group played several concerts and toured the American Embassy.
To start off 2018 with a bang, the band added 11-year-old banjo player Jacob Sturgill to the ensemble.
“He is an honorary member, or the Fifth Beatle, if you will,” Rose said of the band’s newest and youngest addition.
The Crooked Road Music Series takes place each Thursday at Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway, located off I-81 at Exit 14 in Abingdon. The series features youth artists each second Thursday along with open jams on other Thursdays of the month to showcase the region’s musical performers.
As part of the Crooked Road’s Thursday night live music series, Heartwood’s restaurant offers delicious Southern BBQ to make for a fine food and music experience. Admission to the concert is free,but donations will be accepted for the Crooked Road Traditional Music Education Program (TMEP).
The music series is sponsored by Heartwood, the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development, the Virginia Commission for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.