For centuries, literally, folks have been following The French Broad River into Madison County to hear the finest in traditional music.
Cecil Sharp found ballad singers in Hot Springs, Bascom Lamar Lunsford searched over the hills and hollers for banjo players and buck dancers, and anyone having a house party or a barn dance was hunting up a fiddler to liven up the festivities. This tradition continues every spring in downtown Marshall where the area’s finest fiddlers come together for a concert to benefit The Madison County Arts Council. On March 11, old favorites and new faces join together in jam packed performances of old-time tunes, Bluegrass classics, sweet harmonies, and family togetherness.
“This year we want to honor master musician and former Bluegrass Boy, Ralph Lewis,” remarked Laura Boosinger, Executive Director of The Madison County Arts Council. “We love having Ralph and his boys, Don and Marty, in the house. Their music comes from the heart of Madison County. There is nothing more fun than watching Ralph and his sons tear it up on stage. Ralph toured the world with Bill Monroe and other notable musicians. He always came home to Western North Carolina and often brought a musical mentor to work with his boys. Don and Marty recall fiddler Kenny Baker stopping by to show them a few things.” Grammy award winning banjoist Marc Pruett declares, “Ralph Lewis is the “pinnacle person” in Western North Carolina folk culture for sharing talents, promoting mountain music, and perpetuating music traditions. All his life, and without asking anything in return, Ralph has freely given of himself to guide other musicians.”
Other fiddlers on the show include Arvil Freeman, Roger Howell, Bobby Hicks, Kathryn Parham Brickey, Emma McDowell, Elizabeth Sauls, Rhiannon Ramsey and Lillian Chase. The Junior Appalachian Musicians, a program of the Madison County Arts Council, will also be featured. “We want folks to hear this next generation of Madison County musicians and are pleased to showcase them,” said Boosinger.
“Folks start asking us in January about our Fiddler’s show? Ticket sales are already brisk and we know we can hardly get everyone in the doors to hear all of this music. Last year was standing room only,” said Boosinger. Two shows will commence on Saturday, March 11, 2017, one at 3:00 pm and the next at 7:30 pm at The Madison County Arts Center, 90 South Main Street, Marshall, NC.
Tickets are available by calling (828) 649-1301 or online at www.madisoncountyarts.com.