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Women’s Old Time Appalachian Music Festival April 2-3

BOONE–A weekend of music, dance, singing and storytelling traditions of Appalachia women comes to the Appalachian State University campus April 2-3. The event highlights the connection between women’s roles and old time music’s influence on the definition of their identities and communities.

The Women’s Old Time Appalachian Music Festival consists of a lecture, a potluck dinner and dance Friday evening, free workshops Saturday, and a closing concert Saturday night with three award-winning bands.

Beginning at 5 p.m. Friday, April 2, musician and folklorist Mary Greene presents a lecture titled “Bessie Eldreth and Ora Watson: Appalachian Women Musicians” in the Linville Falls Room of Plemmons Student Union. Greene used to play old time music with Watson in the 1970s and ’80s fiddler’s conventions. She has interviewed Eldreth, a ballad singer, and Watson, a fiddle player, many times. Her video recording allows these musicians to speak for themselves. The lecture is free and open to the public.

At 7 p.m., Legends hosts a potluck dinner and barn dance with music provided by the Free Range Chix. The band consists of award-winning musicians Helen White on fiddle, Lisa Sutphin on guitar, Donna Correll on bass and Mary Charlton on old time banjo. Multi-talented Laurie Fisher will call the barn dance. Known regionally as a fiddler for the contra dance band The String Beings, Fisher is also a pianist, vocalist, and dance caller/teacher.

On Saturday, April 3, free workshops will be held in Plemmons Student Union. Two workshops will be held from noon-1:15 p.m.: a Banjo Workshop led by instructor Hilary Dirlam, and a Fiddle Workshop by Dona Cavanagh.

From 1:30-2:45 p.m., Julie Shepherd will conduct a Flatfoot Dance Workshop while Lisa Baldwin teaches a Ballad Singing/Singer Songwriter Workshop.

A Mandolin Workshop led by Elizabeth Ann Wyndelts and a Carter Family Style Guitar Workshop led by Gail Gillespie will be held from 3-4:15 p.m.

The festival concludes with an 8 p.m. concert in Valborg Theatre. Performing bands are Too Hot To Cook (Hilary Dirlam, Dona Cavanagh and Elizabeth Ann Wyndelts), The Tobacco Bursts (Gail Gillespie, Nora Rogers and Tolly Tollefson) and The Cacklin’ Hens (Mary Greene, Ora Watson and Amy Michels).

Too Hot To Cook has been together since 1980, playing a mix of traditional Appalachian style music, Tin Pan Alley, turn-of-the-century parlor songs and Celtic and New England tunes.

The Tobacco Bursts features veteran musicians who grew up in Georgia, Tennessee and Oregon. Some of the members also play with the old time string band The New Southern Broadcasters.

The Cacklin’ Hens, who have played together for 30 years, include Watson, a Watauga County native in her 90s.

Admission for the concert is $7 for students, $10 for general public. Call (828) 262-3063 for tickets.

The Women’s Old Time Appalachian Music Festival is sponsored by the university’s Department of Women’s Studies, the Center for Appalachian Studies and the Appalachian Heritage Council.