Clinch Mountain Music Fest is back for its eighth annual celebration of mountain music.
This year’s festival will be held Saturday, June 8 at the Carter Family Fold in Hiltons, Va., and will feature both old friends and new faces, including Audie Blaylock and Redline, the McLain Family Band, Appalachian Trail and the Town Branch Bluegrass Band.
Saturday’s events will once again be dedicated to the late Jay Dixon, who chaired the festival for five years before he passed away in January 2012.
Gates open at noon for early seating, and the festival begins at 3 p.m. with welcoming speakers and festival history. Appalachian Trail will kick off the music at 3:30 p.m., followed by the Town Branch Bluegrass Band at 5 p.m. A dinner break will allow festival goers time to visit the food vendors and artisans set up on the grounds. Music will resume at 7 p.m. with the McLain Family Band. Audie Blaylock and Redline will close out the day’s events when they take the stage at 9 p.m.
There will be a 15- to 30-minute break between performances to allow time for sound set up.
The Carter Family Museum and A.P. Carter birthplace cabin will be open from noon to 7 p.m.
All-day admission is $15 per person.
Formed in 1984, Appalachian Trail is a union of seasoned and innovative singers, songwriters and musicians who are breaking new ground in the bluegrass arena. Its members — including Tommy Austin on mandolin and vocals, Vickie Austin on bass and vocals and Tim Laughlin on fiddle, guitar, mandolin and vocals — have performed abroad in Ireland, Scotland, England, Russia, Sweden, Canada, Holland and Switzerland and coast-to-coast back here at home.
The Town Branch Bluegrass Band began back-porch picking and performing at local events seven years ago, and continues to showcase the traditional songs of yesterday along with the driving sound of a modern style. The group features Brandon Elkins on banjo, Bill Newman on mandolin, Peggy Ely on bass, Shirley Smith on vocals, and Jack and Wayne Bonham on guitar and vocals.
The McLain Family Band started performing at the Carter Family Fold when the late Janette Carter first began presenting concerts in the old A.P. Carter Grocery in 1974. Raymond McLain Sr. formed the family band in the late 1960s when his five children were very young, and he was a Carter Family Memorial Music Center board member from the day it was created. His son Raymond now serves on the music center’s board of directors in addition to serving as the artistic director at the Fold.
Raymond McLain Jr. is director of the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State University. He also performs, produces and records. McLain Jr.’s 40-plus years of entertaining have taken him to performances in all 50 states and 62 foreign countries, including a tour as a musical ambassador of the U.S. State Department. For 21 years with his family band, Raymond McLain Jr. was featured internationally at thousands of festivals and concerts and also as a soloist in appearances with more than 230 orchestras. He performed with Jim & Jesse’s Virginia Boys for 10 years.
He currently performs with Canadian harmonica whiz Mike Stevens, who has toured the world bluegrass legends Jim & Jesse. Roy Acuff is one of his biggest fans, often making special trips to the Opry just to watch Stevens play. He has logged more than 300 performances on the world famous Grand Ole Opry stage and is a true pioneer of bluegrass harmonica, creating a much copied style of playing.
A four-time IBMA Guitar Player of the year candidate, Audie Blaylock has performed with some of bluegrass music’s most distinguished artists over the years, including Jimmy Martin and Rhonda Vincent. His session work earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album and an IBMA nomination for Recorded Event of the Year for “A Tribute to Jimmy Martin: The King of Bluegrass.” This group project included Blaylock on guitar and vocals; former Sunny Mountain Boys J.D. Crowe, Paul Williams and Kenny Ingram also participated.
Blaylock has also performed with the legendary Red Allen, the Lynn Morris Band, and songwriting great Harley Allen.
Blaylock and Redline had the honor of being nominated for the IBMA’s Emerging Artist of the Year award in both 2005 and 2006. In October 2007, while Blaylock was the featured artist with Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, they brought home the Instrumental Group of the Year award at the 18th Annual IBMA Awards show.
Born in El Paso, Texas, into a family whose roots go back to the hills of Virginia and Tennessee, Blaylock learned to play guitar and sing with his parents and siblings and went on to play locally in the Lansing, Mich., area where he grew up. In 1982, at the age of 19, Blaylock joined Jimmy Martin and the Sunny Mountain Boys and spent nine years on the road, learning the craft of bluegrass from one of the genre’s first-generation legends.
Joining Blaylock in Redline are fiddler Patrick McAvinue; Russ Carson on banjo; bassist Reed Jones; and Jason Wood on mandolin.
The goal of Clinch Mountain Music Fest is to preserve and perpetuate the heritage of the Appalachian region through its music.
For more information, visit www.clinchfest.net.