Found 1954 Concert Audio Transports Listeners Back in Time


You are listening to a found audio recording from 1954.  Marsha Lunsford and her husband Gil were gracious enough to share this unique treasure with Allegheny Mountain Radio.  It features Gil’s father, Jimmy, on trombone and vocals, and his grandmother, known as “Bunn”, on piano and organ.  Both lived in Highland County.  The concert was recorded at the Confederate Room in Orkney Springs, Virginia, and it also features a high school student named Bob LeFever on clarinet and Pete Long on drums.  Marsha was looking through a box of CD’s from relative Sue Sullenberger’s house in Richmond, Virginia when she made the discovery.

Ms. Lunsford says, “I ran across a cassette tape that said ‘Jimmy and Bunn, Orkney Springs, 1954.’  I said, ‘What is this?’ and, so, it just happened that right beside me, two feet away, was a boom box, and we had just had conversation about it a couple days before about, ‘Should we just throw this away?’  So, I popped this cassette tape in there, and it plays, and it was Gil’s father and his grandmother playing this, kind of Dixieland jazz.  I mean, they were tearin’ it up!  And I was just – I just had chills.  I was so delighted.  I started to cry.  I was so excited, so when Gil got there, and I played it for him, of course, he cried, too.  It was, like, so amazing to find this and hear them talking and their voices, and, I mean, I had always heard that Bunn was amazing.  People would say, like, ‘Oh, you shoulda heard Bunn play, but I had never got to hear her play.  She was elderly when I met her, so to be able to hear it at last, after all these years, I was so excited!”

Bunn was an accomplished musician, even playing music live to fit the scenes of silent movies when they were shown in the area.  Ms. Lunsford says, “Bunn was Kathleen Herold Lunsford, and, so, she was from the Herold Family in Mill Gap.  Her siblings, they were notorious singers, and, so, Bunn grew up here in Monterey, and she played music all around and everything.  She just had one of those natural ears, and, so, when Jimmy was just a boy, he started playing trombone, and by the time, they say, when he was thirteen, he was standin’ on boxes, crates playin’ with her bands out, you know, here and there, playin’ his trombone!”  Ms. Lunsford laughs and continues, “So probably about the time of this recording, he woulda been in his twenties.  They went around, and they played music all around the area.  They even played with Patsy Cline.  They weren’t her band or something, but they were kind of doin’ the same venues, let’s say, and, eventually, he got married and had children, and, so, he became a school teacher, and he’s really well-known in Northern Virginia as a band director, and we still have students who come to his grave at Green Hill Methodist and come by to say, ‘hello,’ and let us know that they’ve paid their respects.

“What’s amazing to me is that back here, there were these people that just had so much musical talent that they overflowed with it, and they were on the road, and, I mean, it’s just not something we usually hear about typical Highland people doing, you know?  They were just unique individuals.”

If you have any more stories about this specific recording, or about Bunn Lunsford and her Dixie Land Band in general, Marsha can be reached at 540-499-2010.  She will also accept requests for the full roughly 45-minute concert recording.

Songs played in this recording are believed to be “(Won’t You Come Home) Bill Bailey,” “On the Sunny Side of the Street,” and “Shine On, Harvest Moon.”

Story By

Chris Swecker

is the Assistant Station Coordinator and a News Reporter for WVLS. He has roots in Highland County going back several generations, and he grew up in Monterey. Since graduating from James Madison University with a bachelor’s degree in Media Arts and Design, he has pursued his career at a news station and advertising agency in Virginia, on Microsoft’s campus in the state of Washington, and in both states as sole owner and employee of a video production company. He enjoys exploring life with his wife, Jessa Fowler, traveling, hiking, hunting, gardening, and trying new foods, all while discovering more about what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. He feels blessed to be a small part of this talented AMR team to help give back to the community that has provided him with so much.

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