Blues Festival concert set at the Blue Ridge Music Center

First Posted: 7/8/2009

GALAX, Va. Three legendary Piedmont blues musicians and a local old-time band will be at the Blue Ridge Music Center Saturday at 7 p.m.
The legendary Piedmont blues musicians include Rick Franklin, Phil Wiggins, Nat Reese and local string band Buck Mountain Band.
Wiggins is a harmonica player, composer and singer who grew up in Washington, D.C., and began his musical career performing with Virginias famed Piedmont blues masters Archie Edwards, John Jackson and John Cephas. He toured Europe, Africa and Latin America with Cephas, and won multiple awards from the Blues Foundation for outstanding recordings. His recordings are on the most respected national blues labels: Smithsonian Folkways, Alligator and Flying Fish.
Wiggins now performs with Rick Franklin, a Piedmont bluesman noted for soulful singing and a guitar finger picking mastery that recalls Blind Blake and Blind Boy Fuller.
Franklins performing skills and repertoire reflect his interaction with older blues masters, but also his international travels and mastery of other African heritage music: Brazilian Batucada, Samba, Zydeco and High Life.
Wiggins and Franklin are joined in this performance by beloved West Virginia songster Nat Reese. Born in 1924 in Salem, Va., Reese now lives in Princeton, W.Va., and keeps a rich store of soulful music.
He grew up in the coal camps, surrounded by gospel, swing and blues. A former coal miner, Reese is a consummate performer, focused primarily on the traditional blues and swing music he learned as a boy in the coalfields.
Wiggins, Franklin and Reece often dip into the repertoire of the black string bands that created a portion of Virginias heritage music. Black bands also created songs and instrumental skills now used by white old-time mountain bands, so it seemed proper to have an old-time band open this performance.
Since forming in 1999 at the Galax Old Fiddlers Convention, the Buck Mountain Band has performed at festivals and venues in the region. The bands members also serve as resident musicians at the Blue Ridge Music Center on the Blue Ridge Parkway.
The Buck Mountain Band features Bob Taylor on fiddle, Sue Taylor on guitar, Dan Peck on banjo, Amy Boucher on guitar and banjo, and Debbie Larson on bass. Larry McPeak adds vocals and plays guitar.
Bob Taylor is related to the 19th century fiddling Tennessee governors, Robert and Alf Taylor, so he brings to the stage a rich appreciation of heritage music, including tunes that hark back to the black string bands.
Concert seating begins at 5:30 p.m. Patrons may wish to bring lawn chairs and blankets. Picnics are permitted, but alcohol is not. Concessions are available. Pets are not permitted in the amphitheater area. Smoking is allowed in designated areas only. In case of inclement weather, concerts will be held indoors in the nearby Fairview Ruritan Club.
The Blue Ridge Music Center, at milepost 213 on the Blue Ridge Parkway, is operated for the National Park Service by the National Council for the Traditional Arts. The center is open for public visitation from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily through October. Admission to the center is free.
Admission to the concert is $10. Advance tickets are available online at or by calling the Blue Ridge Music Center at (276) 236-5309. Children 12 and younger are admitted free of charge.
Upcoming events at the Blue Ridge Music Center include:
– Saturday Blues Festival Phil Wiggins, Rick Franklin, Nat Reese/Buck Mountain Band. Admission is $10.
– July 18 Robin and Linda Williams/Bobby Patterson and Willard Gayheart. Admission is $10.
– July 25 Linda Lay and Springfield Exit/New North Carolina Ramblers. Admission is $10.
– Aug. 1 Ricky Skaggs and Kentucky Thunder/Scott Freeman & Friends. Admission is $20.
– Aug. 15 Carrie Hassler and Hard Rain/Dry Hill Draggers. Admission is $15.
– Aug. 21 Dailey and Vincent/Ashlee Blankenship and Josh Underwood. Admission is $15.
– Aug. 29 Kenny and Amanda Smith/Bill and Maggie Anderson. Admission is $10.
– Sept. 4 Marty Stuart Band. Admission is $20.
– Sept. 12 Old-time Rock and Roll with Bill Kirchen/Harris Brothers. Admission is $15.

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