Mountain Music Trail videos premiered at Pocahontas Opera house

If you were at the Pocahontas Opera House on Oct 8th, you were one of the lucky folks who received an early auditory Halloween treat courtesy of very talented musicians.

[Music – Young & Restless Pickers]

That’s a sampling from the opening act, The Young & Restless Pickers, a group of young musicians from Pocahontas County. They were the opening act for the premiere of a series of videos about the Mountain Music Trail. Pocahontas County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Cara Rose offers a little more background about the Mountain Music Trail that covers five counties in West Virginia.

“Early on there was a momentum because people like Gil Willis and Gibbs Kinderman recognized the potential a regional music scene offered to the tourism project,” said Rose. “All the Mountain Music Trail partners, 40 or so, stepped up and supported the initial development by traveling far and wide across five counties to attend planning meeting and provide start up funds. The visitors bureau’s of our five counties, Monroe, Greenbrier, Pocahontas, Randolph and Tucker counties, without this core support and seed money the Mountain Music Trail whose partnership we are celebrating tonight would not be possible.”

Additionally, the Pocahontas Communications Cooperative Corp, which oversees Allegheny Mountain Radio, along with the county CVB’s and the Monroe and Pocahontas county commissions provided the funding needed to support an Vista volunteer to head up the project, Ned Savage, who’s spent almost two years of his life working on the project. West Virginia Public Broadcasting and Mountain Stage were also critical partners, filming and producing the videos for the MMT that highlight the music in each of the five counties.

“And most importantly, the musicians that create the Mountain Music Trail,” said Rose. “Every time I listen to young folks like Trevor Hamons and his group play traditional music and see young people getting on the dance floor to square dance and watching visitors enjoy Juanita Fireball and the Continental Drifters here at the Opera House, I continue to be inspired to do my part in making the Mountain Music Trail successful. The roots of this music do run deep.”

[Music – Elk River Ramblers]

As the Elk River Ramblers played in the background I caught up with Gil Willis, one of the folks who first identified the need to create a way to celebrate traditional West Virginia mountain music.

[Heather] “How’s it feel to see this project come to fruition finally?”

“It’s pretty exciting actually,” said Willis. “To kind of borrow an idea from Virginia and kind of rework it here in West Virginia and now to see it being so well received and supported and the state get behind it and Mountain Stage; it’s pretty exciting.”

The idea borrowed from Virginia is The Crooked Road heritage music trail that starts in Rocky Mount and runs for 253 miles through 10 counties in southern Virginia. And like that trail, Willis believes there is much more that the Mountain Music Trail can offer to visitors.

“From a tourism standpoint, it hits on so many things, but it’s sort of like we’re creating music tourism which is great because people can come, and they can stay and eat,” said Willis. “See the sights and go to the shows. Hopefully one day they’ll be able to go to the Hamons home place and that’ll be some sort of a music centerpiece, kind of like the Carter Family.”

Ned Savage, the Vista who put so much of his life into this project was also very stoked about the premiere.

[Heather] “What’s it like to see your ‘baby’ come to full life tonight?”

“Oh, that’s a lovely question, it is not my baby, there are so many people who have pulled together to make this possible,” said Savage, “and it’s really just exciting to see.”

“Do you have any idea how many miles you’ve logged on [Route]219 to record?”

“I have driven every inch of [Route] 219 probably a hundred times it seems like, I’ve learned to love this road so much, it’s like written in my soul now man,” he said. “But it is one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever driven and I love trying to share that love with folks from outside of this region.”

With his Vista term now up, Savage is unsure of what’s next in his future, but he said Pocahontas will always be someplace he’ll want to revisit from time to time.

A series of videos about the Mountain Music Trail is scheduled to be available at the website mountain music trail dot com by the end of October.

[music – Sugar Run Band]

Story By

Heather Niday

Heather is our Program Director and Traffic Manager. She started with Allegheny Mountain Radio as a volunteer deejay. She then joined the AMR staff in February of 2007. Heather grew up in the Richmond, Virginia, area and now lives in Arbovale, West Virginia with her husband Chuck. Heather is a wonderful flute player, and choir director for Arbovale UMC. You can hear Heather along with Chuck on Tuesday nights from 6 to 8pm as they host two hours of jazz on Something Different.

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