The Old-Time Music, Ozarks Heritage Festival in downtown West Plains, Mo., will celebrate its 22nd year Friday and Saturday, June 17 and 18, introducing two powerful, first-time festival performers as headliners on the main stage.
Asleep at the Wheel will take the stage Friday night, and Colin Elmore will open for Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys Saturday night. Both performances are scheduled for 8 p.m.
The two-day annual event in downtown West Plains, Mo., celebrates Ozarks music, tradition, and culture. Admission to all festival events is free.
“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 committee member Emily Gibson. “Our headliner selections this year combine youth and experience in a way that we hope will bring out audiences of all ages. These headline performers truly exhibit that great music rooted in storied traditions transcends generations. We are thrilled to have two outstanding headliners this year at the festival. Each year we try to bring bigger and better and this year is no exception.”
ASLEEP AT THE WHEEL
For over 40 years, Ray Benson & Asleep at the Wheel have been the chief practitioners, conspirators and caretakers of Western swing, carrying Wills’ traditions well into the 21st century, reaching both their contemporaries and the next generation of artists inspired by the great bandleader. Their new album marks the band’s third full-length Bob Wills tribute album following 1999’s Ride with Bob and 1993’s A Tribute to the Music of Bob Wills, with four Grammy awards and over 500,000 copies sold collectively.
Based in Austin, Asleep at the Wheel formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia in 1970. Since their inception, the band has won nine Grammy awards, released more than 20 studio albums and charted more than 20 singles on the Billboard country charts. In 1972, the band signed their first record deal after Van Morrison mentioned they “play great country music” in an interview in Rolling Stone. Their debut record, Comin’ Right At Ya, was released in 1973 on United Artists. The release of Texas Gold in 1975 brought the band national recognition, with the single “The Letter That Johnny Walker Read” becoming a top-ten country hit. The band has been awarded “Touring Band of the Year” (CMAs, 1976) and the “Lifetime Achievement in Performance” (Americana Music Awards 2009). In 2010, they earned a Grammy nomination in the newly minted Best Americana Album category for their critically acclaimed Willie & The Wheel, on Bismeaux Records.
Owned by Ray Benson, Bismeaux Records has won “Best Local Record Label” three years consecutively in the Austin Music Awards. Between 2005 and 2012, Ray Benson wrote, produced and starred in the Bob Wills musical A Ride With Bob. The production sold 70,000 tickets in 18 cities nationwide including the Kennedy Center in 2006. In 2007, Benson performed with Carrie Underwood & Johnny Gimble on the Grammy Awards Telecast in a special Grammy Salute to Bob Wills.
Members include: Ray Benson – Lead Guitar and Vocals, Dave Sanger – Drums, Dave Miller – Bass and Vocals, Eddie Rivers – Steel and Sax, Katie Shore – Fiddle and Vocals, Connor Forsyth – Piano and Vocals, Jay Reynolds – Sax and Clarinet, and Dennis Ludiker – Fiddle and Mandolin
Asleep at the Wheel is bringing a fresh look and sound into 2016. Now traveling as an 8-piece band, recent additions Katie Shore (fiddle, vocals), Dennis Ludiker (fiddle, mandolin) and Connor Forsyth (keyboard, vocals) have instilled a newfound energy and their own unique style within the band. Between those Texas Twin Fiddles and Boogie Piano, you can bet you’ll be dancin’ down the aisles and swingin’ all night long when the Wheel rolls into town!
“We are thrilled to bring Asleep at the Wheel to the festival this year.”, says Gibson. ‘This group has been long considered one of the best live acts in the business and will be bringing their brand of Western swing to West Plains. Anyone who isn’t already a fan will surely leave as one. Everyone who already is a fan knows it’s going to be a great night at the West Plains Civic Center.’
For more information about Asleep at the Wheel, check these online resources:
“As we work to bring generations together, we are excited to pair Colin Elmore, a local favorite who is up and coming on the music scene, with legendary mandolin player Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys. Colin has been a part of our festival in the past and always puts on an excellent show for a hometown crowd. Fans of traditional music and outstanding musicianship have a great night in store, capped off with Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys. This is going to be a great night as we see music passed on stage from generation to generation,” organizers added.
JESSE McREYNOLDS AND THE VIRGINIA BOYS
Deep in the mountains of southwest Virginia still stands the white aging farmhouse Jim & Jesse McReynolds first called home. Raised in the small community of Carfax, located near Coeburn, VA, the boys grew up in a family steeped in traditional mountain music. This background made it natural for them to follow in the footsteps of their grandfather Charlie McReynolds, who was one of the first to record for RCA in Bristol, VA in 1927.
Their harmony was exceptional, a rarity some say only brothers can produce. Jim’s enhanced high tenor combined with Jesse’s deep lead and unique mandolin style set this duo apart in the world of traditional music, now termed Bluegrass. Very early in their career, Jesse developed a “McReynolds style” technique on the mandolin, combining his invention of “crosspicking” and “split-string playing,” which distinguished his picking from others. Many have imitated, but few have successfully mastered his unique style of fast execution of intricate melodic patterns.
In 1952, Jim & Jesse debuted on their first major label, Capitol Records. Since that time, they have recorded for various labels including: Columbia, Epic, again for Capitol, Opryland, CMH, Rounder, and their own, Old Dominion. In 1960, their first single for Columbia, “The Flame of Love” backed by “Gosh I Miss You All The Time” spent weeks climbing the top 100 national charts. “Cotton Mill Man,” “Diesel On My Tail,” “Are You Missing Me,” and “Paradise” are a few songs regarded as Jim & Jesse classics.
They were backed by their band, The Virginia Boys, always top-notch musicians featuring various traditional acoustic instruments: guitar (Jim), mandolin (Jesse), five-string banjo, fiddle and bass. During their career they had toured all 50 states with the exception of Alaska, and have traveled worldwide including: Canada, Mexico, Japan, Europe, The British Isles, and Africa in 1985, for the U.S. State Department.
In the late ’50’s and early ’60’s, most of their live weekly radio and television shows throughout the southeast, were sponsored by Martha White Mills. They also sponsored a portion of The Grand Ole Opry, and invited Jim & Jesse as guest hosts. This led to their membership on March 2, 1964 and their move to Gallatin, TN, near Nashville, in 1964.
Their numerous honors include induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame’s “Walkway of Stars,” the Virginia Country Music Hall of Fame, IBMA’s Hall of Honor, and Bill Monroe’s Bluegrass Hall of Fame. Individually and collectively they garnered many Grammy nominations. They also received the National Heritage Fellowship Award from the National Endowment for the Arts, presented by Hillary Rodham Clinton and Jane Alexander at The White House, September 23, 1997. This is our nation’s most prestigious honor in folk and traditional arts.
The year 2002 was a difficult one for Jim and Jesse. Both brothers were diagnosed with different types of cancer. Jesse’s battle was successful, Jim’s was not. He passed away on December 31, 2002, ending the longest active professional brother duet in country music history – 55 years.
Jesse has carried on the Jim & Jesse tradition and has since gone on to play throughout the world with the Virginia Boys. And the beautiful music that originated from the brothers in the mountains of southwest Virginia back in 1947 remains as timeless as ever.
More information about Jesse McReynolds and the Virginia Boys can be found at these online resources:
BRIXEY CREEK – Friday, 3-4 p.m.
Brixey Creek weaves the wonderful harmonies of Linda Stoffel, the golden voice of the Ozarks’ own Blackberry Winter Band of Winter’s Bone movie fame; Brian Haenke, rock and roll refugee solely responsible for the cultural renaissance of downtown Brixey (Pop.1); and David Haenke, life-long reluctant member of the human race and irrepressibly shameless harmonist. Their two acoustic guitars and three voices bring alive songs from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s with a joy of creating harmonies that will leave you craving more. Be prepared to thoroughly enjoy yourself!
COLBERT BROTHERS – Saturday, noon-1 p.m.
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.
COLIN ELMORE – Saturday, 8 p.m.
Born into a musical family in Willow Springs, MO, Colin grew up surrounded by an atmosphere of music in the Ozark Hills. He first began writing original songs at the age of 16, with deeply personal lyrics even at a young age.
Prior to moving to Nashville, Colin earned a significant fan base in the thriving music scene of Springfield, MO. At the start of his career Colin was part of a band that was named the #1 Alternative Rock band in Springfield, the band gained notoriety for their inventive sound and theatrical stage presence. Colin moved on to work with Arkansas based sibling band “The Franz Family” which he made his debut solo record with entitled “This Side of the Sun” recorded at the legendary Ardent Studios in Memphis, Tn.
Colin continued to perform solo and with friends, finally joining forces with the Danville Train out of Franklin, Tennessee. “We met my first night in Nashville. I was in town considering the move and happened to touch base with our friends from the band SHEL, who invited me to a barbeque at Jake Finch’s house (drummer for the Danville Train). We ended up playing country tunes on his back porch for something like 4 hours. It was basically love at first sight”. Elmore says. The group formed out of that night and eventually went into the studio with producer Teddy Morgan (The Alternate Routes, Kevin Costner and the Modern West) to record their recently released EP “The Wild Blue”.
Marideth Sisco, who heard Elmore at a “Battle of the Bands” event a couple of years ago, said “I was just really impressed with him, his musicianship and his songwriting ability. He really is exceptional, and I think everyone will be happy to hear what he’s been doing.”
DEEP FRIED SQUIRREL – Friday, 5-6 p.m.
Born from the Ozark Mountains (a melding pot of music and cultures for generations), Deep Fried Squirrel plays acoustic roots music, influenced by nearly every type of music that one can listen to.
Deep Fried Squirrel got started in the winter of ’09, four guys in a trailer out in a field playing an odd mix of bluegrass, rock and funk. They grew into a full-on grassrock band. Then, through a few line-up changes, some moving around of other members, we slimmed down to a five-piece string band ready to start a new wave.
DENNIS STROUGHMATT ET L’ESPRIT CREOLE – Saturday, 6-7 p.m.
In the Heart of North America is a story that remains to be told, the story of the French Creoles who founded the Illinois Country over three hundred years ago. Along the Wabash and Mississippi River corridors, today they remain with their songs, stories and language, and one music group continues to carry the torch of this enduring culture … Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Esprit Creole.
Fingers and bow flying, Dennis Stroughmatt takes listeners on a musical odyssey. This is the story of the French Creoles who founded the Illinois-Missouri Country near the Ozark foothills, more than 300 years ago. Their songs, stories, and language remain largely intact and true to the traditions that have been passed down for generations. L’Esprit Creole’s music bridges the gap between contemporary Canadian and Louisiana Cajun styles.
Originally from southeastern Illinois, Dennis Stroughmatt was taught to play fiddle by Missouri Creole fiddlers Roy Boyer and Charlie Pashia in the tradition of their fathers. He became an adopted son of the French Midwest Creoles who settled near St Louis, playing at weekly house parties or “bouillons.” As a result of physical journeys that also included also included French studies in Louisiana and Quebec, Dennis finds himself in a unique position as one who can speak knowledgeably and play in a variety of French styles. He has an innate sense of what is needed to get an audience on their feet, and keep a band on its toes.
Dennis Stroughmatt et l’Esprit Creole are passionate ambassadors of Creole music and traditions, expanding interest and excitement in a region that has been ignored by the history books. As they say in the hills, “On est toujours icitte: We are still here!”
DUANE PORTERFIELD – Saturday, 4-5 p.m.
Duane Porterfield is the current national mountain dulcimer champion, a title he won at the 2014 Walnut Valley Festival in Winfield, Kansas. He is a former Southern Regionals mountain dulcimer champion as well as former Kansas state champion on the mountain dulcimer and banjo.
Duane retired from the Kansas City, Kansas Police Department two years ago where he served as bagpiper with the department’s honor guard. Since retiring, Duane is a regular performer at the Ozark Folk Center State Park in Mtn. View, Arkansas and assists with the Music Roots Program in the Mtn. View School District. He and his wife, Cindi, reside just outside Mtn. View.
THE OZARK HIGHBALLERS – Friday, 4-5 p.m. and Saturday 5-6 p.m.
The Ozark Highballers are a four-piece string band from Fayetteville, Arkansas. This old-fashioned ensemble features the rolling chords and bass runs of Aviva Steigmeyer on guitar, the rhythmically intricate string tickling of Clarke Buehling on finger-style banjo, and the dynamic melody duo of Roy Pilgrim and Pete Howard on fiddles. Their music reflects the spirit and drive of the rural string bands of the 1920s and ’30s, particularly those of the Arkansas Ozarks.
The Ozark Highballers strut a tradition of old-time music best described as “square valley”, and provide music for square dances, farmers markets, festivals, public and private parties, as well as playing music on plain old street corners and front porches.
POSSUM JUICE – Friday, 1-2 p.m. and Saturday, 3-4 p.m.
Since 2012, Possum Juice has become well known for their lively interpretations of old-time tunes. The group’s unique sound has made them a favorite band at the Ozark Folk Center State Park. The blend of Oakley Smith’s precise fiddling and Kai Perry’s smooth mandolin style are balanced and playful. Alanna Brewer’s powerful guitar back up is impeccable, and her melodious banjo tunes are breathtakingly intricate. Judi Munn, the only member over 16, backs them up on bass.
Each member has excelled to a professional level of playing. Oakley is the three-time Arkansas State Fiddle Champion in the Old-time Junior Division (2013-2015) and Alanna Brewer placed second in the Open Division of the 2015 Arkansas State Banjo Championship. All three youth players received scholarships to attend the Swannanoa Gathering Music Camp in 2014. In 2015 they released their first CD, Possum on a Rail. This summer they plan to release a CD of live recordings performed at the Ozark Folk Center. Their music has been chosen to be part of The Ozark Highlands Radio Show, produced at the Folk Center and played on public radio stations around Arkansas.
ROE FAMILY SINGERS – Friday, noon-1 p.m. and 6-7 p.m.
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 (Accident Clearinghouse), 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, and Jim Kweskin & Geoff Muldaur. 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; and, in 2012, won the Minnesota Duet Contest at the MN State Fair.
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.
Honors include: 2012 MBOTMA Duet Competition Winners; 2012 Old-Time CD of the Year, Rural Roots Music Commission; 2011-12 McKnight Artist Fellowship for Performing Musicians; 2012 & 2010 World’s Best Jug Band, Battle of the Jugbands; 2006 Best Female Vocalist Kim Roe, City Pages
STRINGFIELD – Saturday, 1-2 p.m.
Stringfield is a truly unique band; it comes in many different variations but always includes the unique sound of the Hammer Dulcimer. The sound is like a good stew; it depends on the ingredients. The flavor of old time comes through when you hear the fiddle paired with the Celtic strains of the dulcimer. The members have played with various bands, numerous events and some have even traveled to distance lands to bring their sound to new places.
Victoria Johnson has been playing music most of her life but one beautiful day in summer she heard her first hammer dulcimer and it was love at first listen. She also plays the guitar and fiddle in addition to the Hammered Dulcimer. She was the 2002 Southern Regional Hammered Dulcimer Champion, 2002 Southern Regional Ensemble – Second place and the 2004 Oklahoma State Champion. In 2003 she traveled to the Isaseki Bon Festival in Isaseki Japan representing Springfield along with the Hammer & Strings Dulcimer group.
Karl Eggers is a musician, educator, and graphic designer living in Springfield, Missouri. Growing up in Central Missouri, he was always surrounded by classic country and the traditional music of the Ozarks. He has over 20 years of performing experience, first on guitar, and for the last seven years playing Claw-hammer banjo. He enjoys extolling the good times and great weather that follow the dulcet tones of the banjo to anyone who will listen.
Steve Scott was born & raised in Stone County, Missouri and currently living in Springfield.
He has been singing and playing musical instruments since he was 10 years old; plays guitar, mandolin, and fiddle. Steve has played in various bands — Bob Walsh, David Moran, Stringfield, bluegrass & old-time groups, and for Winfield contestants. He is interested in everything – reading, fishing, photography, landscaping, recording and mastering, old-time fiddle, and Scottish ancestry.
Lynn Scott has been living in the Springfield/Branson area for over 20 years, and has been singing and playing music since childhood. Lynn has a variety of interests including reading, history, genealogy and gardening. She holds an MS in Counseling from Missouri State University and is currently working as an elementary school counselor.
SWEET JOURNEY – Friday, 2-3 p.m.
Melinda Maxam–guitar, mandolin, percussion, vocals; Kaitlin Bierman–guitar, percussion, vocals; Olivia Woosley–guitar, mandolin, percussion, vocals, piano, bass; and Jodie Forbes–flute, guitar, percussion are Sweet Journey.
Melinda has played traditional, bluegrass and gospel music for her entire life. Her daughter, Kaitlin, was raised in the same tradition, while incorporating her beautiful vocals in a variety of styles. Her father, Tim Bierman, is well known in the Mountain View area as one of the best fiddlers, banjo players and guitarist around!
Olivia was raised around music of all styles and genres, with her mother, Jodie, being a music educator and her father, David, an excellent bassist. Olivia has proven herself an accomplished pianist, singer (currently singing with an acapella group from Columbia, MO, The Naturelles, and finishing a marching season with Marching Mizzou –Mellophone). She has been the bass guitar player with Undivided Hearts, a contemporary Christian group out of Houston, MO and has played French Horn with the Southern Ozarks Chamber Orchestra of Willow Springs and the STARS Foundation Orchestra of Cabool, MO.
Jodie plays all styles of music on flute. She specializes in playing bluegrass, traditional and blues music along with Classical on the flute. She has played rhythm guitar and flute with the former “Shortleaf Band”. She is Associate Conductor and instrumentalist of the Southern Ozarks Chamber Orchestra and the STARS Foundation Orchestra. She is currently in her 22nd year of teaching music in the public schools, including Elementary Vocal and Instrumental music, and leading the Cabool Band for 3 years.
For more information on the festival e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org, visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/Old.Time.Music.Festival