Inspired and inspiring tunesmiths from Galax Va bring old time music to the Highland Center for The Crooked Road on Tour June 15th
“In West Virginia I spent about 5 years visiting 80 and 90 year old fiddlers there and that was a very life changing experience,” said Erynn Marshall. “Melvin Wine, Lester McCumbers, Leland Hall and many others and I even worked on an organic farm in the Monongahela Forest for a little while in Tucker County, West Virginia.”
That’s Erynn Marshall, an award winning fiddler and old time music enthusiast who along with her husband Carl Jones will bring old time music and storytelling to the Highland Center stage on June 15th. Carl is a songwriter and multi-instrumentalist whose songs have been recorded by The Nashville Bluegrass Band, Kate Campbell and others.
They met about 10 years ago at the Festival of American Fiddle Tunes and were drawn to each other through their love of the music and performing. They now live in Galax, Virginia, a Mecca of sorts for old time music and one of many spots that make up The Crooked Road Music Heritage Trail in southwestern Virginia. Erynn describes the allure of old time music.
“There’s something just wonderful, earthy and sincere and heartfelt about traditional music ,” she said. “Speaking for myself, I think I’m just an old soul and when I hear those really old fiddle tunes or ballads it just awakens all my senses and gets right to the core and that just captivated me.”
Erynn and Carl will be performing as representatives of The Crooked Road on Tour.
“When Alan Lomax the great historian and collector of music visited the area in the 1940’s he said it was the richest breeding ground of traditional music,” said Erynn. “There’s more, kind of old time bluegrass musicians there than practically anywhere, so it’s an amazing place to live.”
Galax also hosts the annual Fiddlers Convention which draws about forty thousand people to the town of eight thousand residents. The music of the region is influenced by the people who settled the area; Scots-Irish who brought the fiddle from Europe, the English who brought ballads and African slaves who carried the “banjar” from West Africa, the ancestral instrument of the modern banjo.
Erynn and Carl perform and teach traditional tunes all around the world. They also compete at festivals such as Clifftop, where Erynn won 1st place fiddle, the first woman to do so at that festival. She describes what it’s like to compete at Clifftop and the even larger festival at Galax.
“You have three minutes to impress and try and do a good job, so it takes a little nerves but it’s kind of fun to be under pressure with your friends,” she said. “The Galax Fiddlers Convention has a thousand competitors if you can imagine. There’s a big yellow tent there and everyone lines up in the back of the tent and there’s a million instruments playing at once. They give you a ribbon just for participating and that’s very sought after.”
Erynn invites everyone to their upcoming concert.
“Come on out to the Highland County Arts Council show on June 15th and come see us in Monterey, Virginia, and we’re really looking forward to performing for everybody there.”
The Crooked Road on Tour concert is Saturday June 15th at 7pm at the Highland Center in Monterey. Tickets are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for students 15 to 18 and free for those under 15.