By Jonathan Williams
Times West Virginian
With April showers behind us, the days are getting warmer and the sun brighter. It’s a good time of year to sit in the sun and enjoy it, and Pricketts Fort wants to help make it happen.
The Pricketts Fort Memorial Foundation will host the annual Traditional Music Day Saturday, May 11 at Pricketts Fort State Park.
If you like music, said Executive Director Greg Bray, either playing it or listening to it, you’ll enjoy the festival, and it’s free and open to the public.
“We try to do it in the spring,” he said. Traditional Music Day was started a long time back, but Bray said there was a hiatus before they started it up again six or seven years ago.
Musicians, both solo artists and groups, will be playing all throughout the day in the visitor’s center. Between Marion, Monongalia and Harrison counties, the region has a rich variety of traditional music, Bray said.
“A lot of it’s Appalachian,” he said, though there will be some country music represented at the event as well. “We’re more music that came out of the mountains here.
“There’s a lot of traditional musicians out there,” he said, and the event is bringing a wide variety to Marion County. About a dozen musical acts are booked for the day.
The show will be more interactive than just listening, though. From 12:30-2:30 p.m., Judy Werner will be conducting a workshop on how to play the lap dulcimer.
An even bigger draw will be the open “jams” the foundation is promoting. When the weather’s nice — and they hope it will be — the bands like to go outside to the park and play with visitors under tents, on the grass, under a tree — wherever.
“Over the years, we’ve had people come and play outside with the bands,” Bray said. “It gets them interested in either forming their own band or playing with other people. And the people there, they’re used to playing with other musicians.”
The foundation encourages people to bring their instruments out and “jam” wherever they feel like it.
“Bring your guitars, dulcimers, banjos, mandolins, jaw harps, autoharps and everything not mentioned,” promotional material urged.
“You’ll see instruments you’re not used to seeing,” Bray said, like stand-up bass or banjos.
Tours of the fort will be available throughout the day at the normal price, though admission into the park itself will be free. He said they plan on having food vendors at the event.
“You can come out and spend the whole day if you want to,” he said.
Bray thanked Darlene Fox for her work lining up the musicians and Werner for putting together the workshops, as well as all the musicians who will be coming out to make the festival a success.
“You just have to like music,” he said, and they do.
Performing will be: the DAA Strummers, Jeff Fedan, Back Porch Pickers, Mountain William Strings, Mark Crabtree, Allegheny, Dan Cunningham, Elmer Rich, Kennedy Barn Spring Band, Motown Psaltery Players, Tunes and Traditions and Dulcimer Dames, with a Grand Jam Finale closing the day out.
The festival opens at 10 a.m. and continues through 4:30 p.m. For a more detailed list of performers or more information about the event, call 304-363-3030.
Email Jonathan Williams at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @JWilliamsTWV.