by Whitney Hale
(Oct. 9, 2014) — From some Local Honeys to the beloved Ritchie family, the "Appalachia in the Bluegrass" concert series is sure to pack the Niles Gallery. On Friday, Oct. 10, the old time music trio the Local Honeys will perform. A couple weeks later, on Friday, Oct. 24, the "Singing Family of the Cumberlands" is in the spotlight with an appearance by four of Jean Ritchie's nieces. Both free public concerts will take place at noon at the Niles Gallery, located in the University of Kentucky Lucille C. Little Fine Arts Library and Learning Center.
The Local Honeys perform B.F. Shelton's "Darlin' Cora."
A Sweet Old Time Trio
The Local Honeys are a vibrant female trio specializing in old time music, primarily connected to Kentucky. The group all met as students and faculty at the Kentucky Center for Traditional Music at Morehead State University. The multi-instrumentalists also incorporate comedy and dance into their performances.
The Kentucky trio is comprised of Montana Hobbs on clawhammer banjo and vocals; Stephanie Jeter on autoharp and vocals, as well as clogging and flatfooting; and Linda Jean Stokley on fiddle, clawhammer banjo and vocals.
Regionally, the Local Honeys have appeared at the Red Barn Radio Show, the Kentucky Folk Art Center, Wallace Station and Willie's Locally Known. The band members consider themselves ambassadors of traditional music and are dedicated to the preservation of traditional songs, ballads, fiddle tunes and dance.
The Next Generation of the 'Singing Family of the Cumberlands'
Celebrated traditional singer, dulcimer player, author, songwriter and UK alumna Jean Ritchie wrote of her life growing up in the community of Viper, in Perry County, Kentucky, in the book "Singing Family of the Cumberlands." It was a remarkable singing family in every regard; they would spend evenings “singing up the moon” at their homeplace nestled in the mountains.
Ritchie wrote, “Best of all the singing. When we got started on ‘The Cuckoo She’s a Pretty Bird,’ we sang back all the happy days and ways of our growing up. Remembrances by the score swept over my mind. Funny happenings, happy days and sad days, and I could tell by the sound of the other voices that they were remembering too. The lovely past was not gone, it had just been shut up inside a song.”
Jean and her brother, Wilmer Ritchie, who lives in Berea, Kentucky, are the last of that generation, but the next generations of the "Singing Family of the Cumberlands" continue to “sing up the moon” together. Four of the Ritchie family nieces, Susie Ritchie, Patty Tarter, Judy Hudson and Joy Powers will gather for a special appearance at the Niles Gallery, creating a “blood harmony,” a very special understanding of music bound to a sacred place. Despite their jobs and lives in different parts of the country, the Ritchies still come together with their unique repertoire and sweet, close harmony.
"It is an honor to have Susie, Patty, Judy and Joy conjure up the beauties of the Appalachian Mountains here in the Bluegrass," said Ron Pen, director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music and host of the concert series.
The “Appalachia in the Bluegrass” concert series celebrates the old-time roots of American folk music by featuring a diverse range of traditional musical expression. The concert series will showcase 13 different artists, duos and groups from southern Appalachia ranging from artists straight off their front porch to those who have earned international acclaim. The concert series is generously presented by the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music, a collaborative research and performance center maintained by the UK College of Fine Arts, UK School of Music and UK Libraries.
For more information on the “Appalachia in the Bluegrass” concert series or the concerts featuring the Local Honeys or members of the Ritchie family, contact Ron Pen, director of the Niles Center, by email to Ron.Pen@uky.edu or visit the website.