Friday, June 11, 2010

I'm going back to West Virginny, where the moutains are so high...

Allegheny Echoes, a music and creative writing program in Marlinton W Va is about to commence. I've been fortunate to teach intermediate guitar (about as far as I ever got) at the Workshops. It's fun, exciting, hard work and entertaining.

John Blissard and Mike Bing had this idea about 14 years ago that something was missing in the distribution of oral history and culture of West Va. They set out with no funding, physical space, or much else except a good idea.

 They started small, offering classes in mandolin, bass, banjo, guitar, fiddle, writing. singing at about every level from raw beginner to advanced. They had a wealth of talent to pull from. John Blissard. Jake Krack and Bobby Taylor teach fiddle. Mike Bing handles mandolin, his brother Tim (one of my favorite banjo player) teaches Banjo. The list goes on and on. The most fun are the jams that go on just about 24/7.

The unique thing is that everyone is housed in a big motel. When you drive by, you see the and upper and lower level of the Marlinton Motor Inn are covered with musicians sawing away from early morning (well, not so early) to late at night. I sometimes cringe at the number of people on the top deck! The spectacle been known to stop traffic. People just stop in to see what's going on.

 The actual classes are taught in tents with a beautiful view of the moutains,and at a wonderfully restored public Opera House built by the railroad at the turn of the century. Every afternoon is dedicated to mini workshops, and a  "Masters" real West Virginia master musicians...Frank George among others.
Be advised. You takes your chances when you pays your money. If you require sleep at night, I hope you enjoy going to sleep to 15 string bands having their way with a tune. That's what you paid for...and you are well rewarded.

It's pretty exhausting, this music playing for a week, but you go home with more than you came. The return trip to earth and the realities of everyday life are the downside...I call it the music hangover. MUCH preferred to the other kind.

Check it out at and the area around Marlinton West Virginia. There is lots to do beside music.

 Staying cool for a week is a big plus for this old Georgia boy.

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