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Heritage Festival kicks off at SU

By Staff | Oct 2, 2009

Brent Feito is on banjo with The Young Napoleons.

The Performing Arts Series at Shepherd University will sponsor the 14th annual Appalachian Heritage Festival on Friday, October 2 and Saturday, October 3. The concerts begin at 8 p.m. in the Frank Center Theater. Friday night’s program will feature performances by blues artist Jeffrey Scott and Jefferson County native Lars Prillaman’s old-time string band The Young Napoleons. Friday will also feature the 2009 Appalachian Heritage Writer-in-Residence Silas House and winner of Shepherd University’s West Virginia Fiction Award. Saturday’s concert will feature a performance by legendary folksinger and songwriter Jean Ritchie, and Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters whose string band performance recreates 1920s live radio. Both concerts will be hosted by award-winning songwriter, musician, and editor of West Virginia’s “Goldenseal” magazine, John Lilly.

Tickets are available at the Shepherd Bookstore, by calling (304) 876-5219 or visiting online at www.shepherdbook.com. Festival passes with admission to both concerts are available for $20 for general admission; $15 for seniors and Shepherd staff; and $5 for kids under 18. Single concert tickets are $15 for general admission; $10 for seniors and Shepherd staff; and $5 for kids under 18. Concerts are FREE TO STUDENTS WITH RAMBLER ID.


JEFFREY SCOTT is a Piedmont Blues musician from Culpeper, Virginia, and nephew of the late, legendary blues artist John Jackson. He has been a featured performer at many events and festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, the Kennedy Center, and the D.C. Blues Society Festival. Accompanying his vocals with Piedmont-style guitar and old-time banjo playing, Scott draws on the musical sources and community heritage of the Blue Ridge Mountains region, as well as many of the songs, stories, and sayings of his famous uncle. The music he plays ranges from blues to gospel to country dance tunes.


Get ready for some acoustic party mayhem with the hot young artists of The Young Napoleons. The band features Shepherd alumnus and Jefferson County native Lars Prillaman on fiddle, Brent Feito on banjo, Brian Vollmer on fiddle and banjo, as well as Peter Winne on guitar and Sam McDougle on upright bass. Winne and McDougle were also featured in the old-time influenced band The Powder Kegs that performed on National Public Radio’s A Prairie Home Companion as part of the show’s first People In (Their) Twenties Talent Show.


The week of the Appalachian Writer-in-Residence project draws to a close on Friday night as Kentucky author Silas House introduces the winners of Shepherd’s West Virginia Fiction Competition. The literary competition was established by the Department of English in cooperation with the West Virginia Humanities Council to recognize writers and storytellers whose talent and ability in creative writing is distinctive and promising. The winning story will be read at the concert. http://www.shepherd.edu/ahwirweb/house/



An outstanding songwriter, traditional singer and folklorist, Jean Ritchie has been a major figure in American folk music for more than sixty years. Raised in Viper, Kentucky, Jean Ritchie brought the music of her family to audiences around the world, sparked the dulcimer revival, and made her known as the “Mother of Folk Music.” In addition to the sweet traditional ballads like “My Dear Companion” that made her famous, Ritchie’s repertoire includes hard-hitting folk classics that address environmental, social, and human rights issues like “Black Waters,” “The L&N Don’t Stop Here Anymore,” “Blue Diamond Mines,” and “Now Is the Cool of the Day” Having recorded more than 40 albums herself, Jean’s songs also have been recorded by Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs, Linda Ronstadt, and many more. She is a recipient of the National Endowment for the Arts National Heritage Fellowship Award, America’s highest honor in the folk and traditional arts. http://www.music-tree.com/ritchie.html



Inspired by the music of legendary North Carolina fiddler Tommy Jarrell, Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters perform high-energy string band music in the style of a 1920s radio show in which the band comes to you live, and fresh from a recent performance at the fictitious Naugahyde Lounge in downtown Webster Springs. The members include Mike Burns, “Juanita Fireball”, on the fiddle, mandolin, banjo-mandolin; Mary Sue Burns, “Lulu”, on banjo: Jay Lockman, “Pluto”, on fiddle; John Sparks, “Preacher John”, on guitar; Terry Richardson, “Double Dog”, on guitar; and Norris Long “Roy” on stand-up bass. (We believe this is the only Appalachian band to feature an astrophysicist who was part of the brain trust that declassified Pluto as a planet.)



Shepherdstown welcomes our MC John Lilly back for another Appalachian Festival. John Lilly is recognized and respected as a traditional musician, songwriter, folklorist, and as editor of Goldenseal magazine. His interest in old-time and early country music began early on and led him to learn guitar and mandolin. A versatile performer, John sings (and yodels) in the style of Jimmie Rodgers, can play Carter-style with the best of them, and also has a diverse repertoire of traditional tunes that he has learned from old-time musicians across the region.

Accomplished on guitar, mandolin, and bass, Lilly is a versatile musician with a fabulous voice that reminds listeners of the great early stars of radio. He has released four self-produced CDs and is recognized internationally as a powerful performing songwriter. In 2005, he won the national Ghost Writers In the Sky songwriting contest, sponsored by HankFest, a Chicago-based festival honoring the music of Hank Williams. John won a customized guitar for his original song “Blue Highway.” He was a finalist in the 2002 Chris Austin Songwriting Competition at MerleFest in Wilkesboro, North Carolina, chosen from 853 entries and placing third in the Country category for his song “Broken Moon.”