The Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo., will celebrate its 24th year Friday and Saturday, June 1 and 2, with two outstanding acts as headliners on the festival stage. The two-day annual event in downtown West Plains, Mo., celebrates Ozarks music and culture. Admission to all festival events is free. The Creek Rocks will take the stage Friday night, and the Homestead Pickers will close the Festival Saturday night. Both performances are scheduled for 8 p.m.
THE CREEK ROCKS
(Fri. 8 p.m. Outside Stage)
The Creek Rocks are a folk group from the Ozarks led by banjoist Cindy Woolf and guitarist Mark Bilyeu. These longtime musical collaborators worked together on Cindy’s three CDs of original songs starting in 2005. Mark and Cindy married in 2013 and established The Creek Rocks in 2015. Mark is a founding member of Ozarks family band Big Smith, with whom he toured and recorded for sixteen years.
Their debut release, “Wolf Hunter,” is a collection of sixteen folk songs from the Ozarks, drawn from the collections of folklorists Max Hunter of Springfield, Missouri, Mark’s hometown; and John Quincy Wolf of Batesville, Arkansas, where Cindy grew up. Joining them on the album are bassist Jason Chapman of the Chapmans bluegrass band and percussionist Jay Williamson, also of Big Smith, who currently serves as the band’s go-to live percussionist. Cindy and Mark often perform as a duo but are also buttressed by a host of musician friends when a full band seems decorous for the situation. “Wolf Hunter” has gathered critical accolades for The Creek Rocks, including the prestige of their photo gracing the cover of the September 2017 issue of Acoustic Guitar Magazine, along with a feature article. Prior to that, a profile of Bilyeu appeared in the March 2014 issue of Flatpicking Guitar Magazine.
The Creek Rocks musicians Cindy Woolf, Mark Bilyeu, Jay Williamson, and Brent LaBeau will perform at 8 p.m. on Friday, June 1, 2018.
(Sat. 8 p.m. Outside Stage)
The Homestead Pickers are a very special collection of four seasoned performers, musicians, comedians, actors, storytellers, and composers with many years of experience entertaining audiences both in Branson, Missouri and around the United States as well as tours of Ireland. Their performing home is the McHaffie Homestead cabin built in 1843 and located on the main street of Silver Dollar City. Their eclectic blend of fiddle, banjo, guitar, hammered dulcimer, and unique vocals depict the early days of American music, bluegrass, gospel, and even some Irish tunes with humor unmatched by any other combination.
The Homestead Pickers started with Grandpa Vern Berry around 1990. He would sit and play his fiddle in front of the kitchen and joke around with guests, especially kids. He was a huge personality who couldn’t keep still when playing his fiddle. More often than not, when he started playing he’d end up out of his chair and dancing around. Granpa Vern named the Homestead Pickers.
Current Pickers include Danny Eakin from Booger Holler, Arkansas, who has been a part of the group from its beginnings. A published singer and songwriter, he is the ultimate in Hillbilly entertainment. Danny plays the mountain banjo, guitar, and harmonica.
Greg Bailey has played with some of the biggest names in the country including two years with Miss Loretta Lynn. His Stone County Recording Studio in Reavisville, Missouri, has produced all the Homestead Pickers’ albums. Greg is an expert in repairing instruments and restoring old ones. Bailey plays fiddle, guitar, banjo, mandolin, dobro, bass and just about anything else with strings.
Greg Becker has been performing at Silver Dollar City since 1975. He was a member of the infamous River Rats Dixieland Band as a drummer, bass player with the SDC favorite Horsecreek Band, a champion Hammered Dulcimer player, and the Pickers’ bass anchor since 1996. Greg also plays guitar, pennywhistle, harmonica, autoharp, squeezebox, and many more. He is a long-time collector of South American instruments and is the band’s finder and keeper of old songs.
John Walter (Walt) Morrison hails from the northern states, and now lives in Cassville, Missouri. Walt began his professional career at the age of 14 playing music in the St. Louis area. He and his wife Becky spent 3 years traveling the world through the Department of Defense entertaining our troops abroad. In 1992, they settled in the Branson area where Walt played various venues until finally landing at Silver Dollar City where he is proud to be a Homestead Picker.
The Homestead Pickers have a dozen or more CD releases as well as a 2-CD, 36-song Homeschooler’s Folksong Collection which includes a 68-page lyric booklet of a study of the origins of American music and two volumes of DVD performances, all offered on their website. They’ve performed for governors, senators, preachers, and presidents. The Homestead Pickers have thrilled millions over the years with their antics and top-notch musicianship and they continue to be the highest rated attraction at Silver Dollar City.
(Sat. Noon, Theater Stage)
Old-time music has been a family tradition for generations for Colbert Brothers Leon, Van, Vernon and John, all of whom hail from Willow Springs, Mo. “Mom and Dad instilled in us the love of their music, and to this day we play, sing and remember,” said Van, who is known for his unique “two-finger” roll style on banjo.
The Colbert’s grandfather, Hall Colbert, moved the family from the Buffalo River region of Arkansas during the Depression years. He and his wife, Ethel, their four boys, Leon, Bob, Truett and John, and their four daughters, Geneva, Gladys, Jewell and Marge, traveled by horse and wagon to the Howell County community of Amy where they established new roots and Hall preached as a Baptist minister and sang.
The Colbert’s father, Joseph Truett, who was named for a famous turn-of-the-century minister, taught himself to play a banjo he built by stretching a groundhog skin over the hoop for a head. He taught Van’s older brothers to chord the guitar and enjoyed playing along once they could carry a tune. Mother Vernieca May (Easley) Colbert also was a beautiful singer and lady, Van said, and before she passed away, they could always encourage her to sing “Beautiful Brown Eyes,” “Red River Valley,” “Maple on the Hill” and “Wildwood Flower” to their accompaniment.
(Fri. 6 p.m. Outside Stage)
Creek Stink hails from the hollers of Ozark County, MO. They play high-octane string band dance music and have been called “the Ramones of Ozark folk music.” Eric Bogwalker writes the songs by the woodstove in-between chores, and is joined by Amelia LaMair on bass, Carlos Ferrer on banjo/accordion, and Petey Wesley on fiddle for performances all over the Ozarks and beyond.
(Sat. 4 p.m. Theater Stage)
Born from the Ozark Mountains, Drifters Mile plays, sings, and writes folk music in a Bluegrass Style. “We’re just regular folks playing good new-time music. We might not be siblings, but we are a family band all the same.”
Band members include: Deakin Mooney on banjo, lead, and backup vocals; David DeWitt on mandolin, lead, and backup vocals; Jake Norman on guitar, bass vocals; Eric Mathewson on fiddle, backup vocals; and Dave Smith on Bass.
(Fri. 4 p.m. and Sat. 3 p.m. Theater Stage)
With his small-town Missouri roots as a compass, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jeremy Myers artfully navigates this wilderness, stitching together his hopes, dreams, victories, and adventures in song to weave a vibrant tapestry of a distinctly American countryside that will make you feel right at home. From the small, curious child who taught himself harmonica to the dedicated adolescent who became a skilled guitarist, Jeremy has since captivated audiences with his skillful command of fiddle, mandolin, clawhammer banjo, and cello. His warm, silvery voice and expressive musicianship imbue his music with a comforting grassroots sound reminiscent of living-room jam sessions and Ozarks front porch storytelling.
(Sat. 5 p.m. Theater Stage)
Julie grew up in Springfield, Mo., with old-time music on her doorstep. Famed fiddler Art
Galbraith lived a block away, the Max Hunter Song Collection was at the nearby library, and music parties were just a short drive away. Other musical influences from the Ozarks have included Almeda Riddle, Glenn Ohrlin and Bob Holt.
Julie also found inspiration in her music from Appalachian singers and musicians like Jean Ritchie, Lily May Ledford, and Virginia ballad singer Eunice Yeatts MacAlexander, as well as folk revival musicians Tom Paley and Peggy Seeger.
Known for her unerring command of the distinct, but related, idioms of Southern American and traditional Irish music, Julie sings and plays finger-style guitar, clawhammer banjo, mountain dulcimer, and fiddle – instruments she uses for both song accompaniments and solo pieces.
As a folklorist, Julie has interviewed singers and musicians from the Appalachians and the Ozarks, steeping herself even more deeply in the traditions she loves. She has also spent a significant amount of time in Ireland studying the song tradition of that country, so that, as music critic Philippe Varlet has commented, “Julie can go from American-style traditional songs like ‘Going Across the Sea’ to traditional Irish songs and be equally comfortable in either style.” At the festival she will concentrate on her American repertoire, especially that of the Ozarks.
Julie’s performances have been characterized as “mesmerizing,” her vocals “stunning” and her instrumental work as “absolutely superior.” She has performed solo in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom and Ireland, and as a member of a number of Irish and old-time bands, including Missouri Girls with Barbara Weathers and Kim Lansford. She has shared the stage with a variety of singers and musicians, including Tom Paley, Chirps Smith, and Irish super-group Altan. Author of two Mel Bay books on open-tuned finger-style guitar, Julie has a highly lauded CD on the Waterbug label entitled American Stranger.
(Fri. 3 p.m. and Sat. 1 p.m. Theater Stage)
After twenty plus years of playing traditional music together Patt Plunkett and Charlie Walden (aka Patt & Possum) have learned a thing or two about getting along musically. While some couples might bicker about the bills or where to go out to eat, these two battle over chord progression and set lists.
Charlie and Patt both grew up listening to and playing traditional mid-western fiddle music. Charlie learned as a teenager at the feet of some of Missouri’s finest old-time fiddlers, including Pete McMahan, Taylor McBaine and Cyril Stinnett and was encouraged by countless others. Along the way he developed an interested in Canadian fiddle tunes as the fiddling in the Ottawa Valley is similar in style and shares some common repertoire with Missouri. As such, other important influences through recordings were Graham Townsend, Don Messer and Ned Landry. He is also a big fan of Kenny Baker, Chubby Wise and Joe Meadows where Bluegrass is concerned.
Patt started out by playing piano for her grandfather, Carl Voorhees, who was a seasoned Illinois square dance fiddler. She went on to play Irish-style piano accompaniment and formed a ceili band in Chicago, which won the local Fleah Ceol twice. She is also a professional music educator and trained singer. Patt’s love of music and natural ability as a dancer led her to take an interest in square and contra dance calling and instruction along with individual clogging and step dance performance. Charlie and Patt are active contra and square dance musicians, performing for numerous such events each year. They serve as instructors at several music camps, giving instruction on fiddle, piano styles, traditional dance and vocal music. Patt and Possum completed their third tour of Australia in November 2013.
The Roe Family Singers
(Fri. 5 p.m. Theater Stage, Sat. 6 p.m. Outside Stage)
The Roe Family Singers are Quillan & Kim Roe, Eric Paulson (bass), Ric Lee (fiddle), Dan Gaarder (guitar)
Pinecastle Records recording artists the Roe Family Singers are a good-time, Old-Time hillbilly band from the tiny community of Kirkwood Hollow, MN. Led by wife & husband Kim Roe (Best Female Vocalist, City Pages/Village Voice) and Quillan Roe, the band marries old-time sounds from barn-dances, fiddle pulls, and county fairs with the rock & roll passion of youth.
Featuring banjo, Autoharp, guitar, and Appalachian clogging, the band and family of fans have been regularly filling Minneapolis’ 331 Club every Monday night since 2005. They’ve shared the stage with Doc Watson, Ralph Stanley, Mike Seeger, Del McCoury, the Grascals, Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur, Junior Brown, Asleep at the Wheel, and John McEuen & John Carter Cash. In 2011 the band was awarded the prestigious McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians; they won the title of “World’s Best Jug Band” twice, in 2010 & 2012 at the annual Battle of the Jug Bands; in 2012, won the Minnesota Duet Contest at the MN State Fair; in 2016 won the title of Entertainers of the Year from BMAI; and, in 2017, Kim won the Bob Holt Jig Dance competition at the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival, held in West Plains, MO.
The Roe Family Singers mix original music and contemporary takes on old-time, traditional, and gospel tunes into one roiling & rollicking river of fresh yet familiar American music. Every performance raises a ruckus.
“The overall mission of the Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is about preserving traditions, and there are few traditions as close to people’s hearts as music,” said festival organizer Paula Speraneo. “Our artists this year were chosen for their long-standing artistic excellence, career milestones and legacies that span ages and tradition. It is a combination that will be special for audiences of all ages. These performers truly exhibit that great music rooted in storied traditions transcends generations. We are thrilled to have these outstanding performers this year at the festival.”
The Old-Time Music, Ozark Heritage Festival is the signature event for West Plains. The two-day festival seeks to celebrate, preserve, pass on and nurture an appreciation of the old-time music and folk life traditions distinctive to the Ozark Highlands.
2018 Festival partners include the West Plains Council on the Arts, the City of West Plains, the Ozark Heritage Welcome Center, West Plains Civic Center, and Missouri State University-West Plains. Partial funding for this event was provided by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.
For more information on the festival e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the website at http://www.oldtimemusic.org, or “like” the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Old.Time.Music.Festival