Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys will perform at Pocahontas Opera House


The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys will perform at the Pocahontas Opera House on Saturday, August 30th. The traditional bluegrass band is composed of guitarist Chris Nickell, mandolin picker Rick Carpenter, bass player Mike Smith, and banjo player Richard Hefner. Of the four musicians, Hefner is the only original member, playing with the band since its start in Pocahontas County over forty years ago. I spoke with Richard Hefner about the band, their music, and the Opera House, which he described as one of their favorite places to play.

I’m Richard Hefner, I’m with the Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys Band right here in Pocahontas County. Maybe not the oldest band in the state but I think we’re the oldest traditional in the state. We started out in 1968, so we’ve got about forty some years behind us, and still doing it and loving it.

When I was raised up, The Opera House had a dirt floor in it, and it was building supplies. Glades was in there, and it was their storeroom. I can really remember it when it was that way, and now it’s such a beautiful building and they’ve got all kinds of incredible talent there, and the acoustics in there are great.

We always have a good crowd and the local people come out to hear you. It’s just a really great atmosphere and we love doing it there. We love the Opera House a bunch.

Bill Monroe told me a long time ago: you’ve got to have your home town backing you. So we started out, we played a lot of jobs for fundraisers for fire departments, parents and teachers association, all the rescue squads and churches and everything for free to kind of get our name out there and get going. And you look out at that audience and you see some of those same people that were there when you first started out, so I’m playing this song for them. It’s really good to play around home and play for local folks that you know.

It’s just such a great feeling to play music. When it’s good, there ain’t nothing in the world any better. And if you get that thing going like we get it going once in a while with these guys that I play with and get that—well, we get it going a lot—you get that drive going and that rhythm and harmony singing. I could do without the playing sometimes just to hear the singing. But I just love the drive to it. It’s like if you have any troubles, they pretty much are gone when you’re playing music. It just takes you off into a different place. So I just love the music a lot, and I love to get in front of people and play, too, whenever we’re playing good and the people are getting into it. It’s just a great feeling to do that.

The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys will perform on Saturday, August 30th, at the Pocahontas Opera House in Marlinton. More information is available at


Story By

Megan Moriarty

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