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It's time for another 'Gathering in the Gap'

Anne Newton • May 21, 2018 at 4:57 PM


BIG STONE GAP, Va. - The 2018 Gathering in the Gap Music Festival on Saturday, May 26, features evening performances by The Seldom Scene, Ellis Dyson & The Shambles and If Birds Could Fly.

The event, first held in 2007, helps celebrate the area’s rich regional traditions of old-time, bluegrass and Americana music and the culture and history of the Appalachian region, while providing songwriting, instrument and band competitions.

Held Memorial Day weekend from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the grounds and surrounding areas of the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park, the event’s main stage and Acoustic Arbor performances include a daytime lineup of the WiseJAMS Music Program, Tyler Smith, the Band Competition Winners, Sons of Liberty, Rich Kirby and The Haybright String Ticklers.

The Gathering in the Gap also offers the Shoestring Theatre Company performing The Best Doctor In Town, the "Stitch in Time" Quilt Show, vendors and crafters.

The region’s musical culture and history helped drive development of the event.

“We strive to provide programs and major events that bring the history and culture of this region to life,” said Aaron Davis, park manager at the Southwest Virginia Museum Historical State Park, “and because of our musical culture we decided to begin this event.”

Nighttime performers include The Seldom Scene (top left) progressive bluegrass band; Ellis Dyson & The Shambles (top right) featuring old-time influences on ballads and traditional jazz; and If Birds Could Fly, an Americana duo from rural Virginia who come together to blend retro country, soul and rock-n-roll.

For more than 40 years, The Seldom Scene has been known for contributing to the progression of bluegrass, attracting new audiences and creating bluegrass versions of country music, rock and classical pop. The band tours year-round, and has performed at the White House many times. Its musicians offer a signature sound, solid repertoire and sheer sense of fun. Members are Lou Reid, Dudley Connell, Ronnie Simpkins, Fred Travers and Ron Stewart.

In April, the band latest released “Long Time... Seldom Scene” that offers fresh interpretations of 16 tunes and is the band’s first studio album since its 2007 Grammy-nominated album, “Scenechronized.” Current members were joined for the recording in the studio by founding members Tom Gray and John Starling, and guests Chris Eldridge, Emmylou Harris and Rickie Simpkins.

Ellis Dyson & The Shambles features an expert blend of old-time influences ranging from piedmont murder ballads to traditional jazz. Whiskey-soaked, foot-stompin’ songs bring the party music of departed eras to crowds both young and old. The Shambles have made waves with their theatrical and explosive live shows, and masterful musicianship, and is guaranteed to bring the ruckus.

Launched as a saxophone and banjo duo, the Chapel Hill, N.C., band has grown into a freight train string band with a flashy horn section including Ellis Dyson (banjo, vocals), Eli Wittmann (acoustic guitar), Jonathan Ng (fiddle), Adam Maloney (upright bass), Danny Abrams (soprano/alto/baritone saxophones, vocals), and Danny Grewen (trombone, vocals).

Founded in early 2010 by Brittany Ashley and guitarist Andrew Carter, If Birds Could Fly is from a small rural Southwest Virginia town and features retro country, soul and rock-n-roll with an Appalachian accent. With a sound all their own, they offer a refreshing take on Appalachian folk, classic Americana and rock-n-roll, and blend many genres for a simplistic, unmistakable sound. From Folk to Indie, their music offers something for everyone - from soothing guitar melodies to vocal chills truly from the heart. Ashley and Carter’s self-penned songs are written collaboratively. The Americana duo has also added bassist Joshua Harper and drummer/ percussionist Andrew Sergent.

Daytime general admission is open to the public. Tickets for evening performances are $15 in advance or $20 at gate, and are available online at www.gatheringinthegap.org/tickets or by calling (276) 523-1322. Be sure to ask about the Gathering in the Gap T-shirt Quilt Giveaway. Also, please call for more information about participating as a food vendor or crafter.

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