May 23, 2015

A White People's Celebration!

May 22-24, 2015, the grounds surrounding the State Capitol Complex in Charleston will once again come alive with the sound of White music as the Vandalia Gathering begins anew.

The annual get-together features not only musicians from all over the Mountain State, but visiting musicians from around the country and world as well.

With concerts and workshops hosted by acclaimed artists to instrument contests featuring up and coming pickers, West Virginia roots music will fill the air for three days and nights. There is a lot more to the Vandalia Gathering than music, however, as flatfoot dancing, Celtic dancing, square dancing will take place alongside arts and crafts, assorted food booths. And, there will be a lot of activities featured that will keep the kids busy all day.

Presented by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History, the Vandalia Gathering is free for the public. 

On Saturday, there will be a series of special concerts that will take place in-between the various music instrument contests. The lineup will include performances by Trevor Hammons, Hunter Walker, Andrew Kidd and the band Steadfast. Sunday's list of artists will include Jim Mullins, George Daugherty, Darrell Murray, Roger Bryant and Buck & Company.

One very special event scheduled for Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m. is the Memorial Tribute to Lester McCumbers Concert. McCumbers was one of the classic old-time West Virginia fiddlers in the tradition of Clark Kessinger, Melvin Wine, Wilson Douglas, Edden Hammons, Ed Haley and others. McCumbers died earlier this year in January at 93 years of age. The tribute concert will take place in the Norman L. Fagan West Virginia State Theater and will feature Dwight Diller, Elmer Rich, John and Marvine Loving, Frank George, Charlie Myers, Teddy Vaughn and the Sample Brothers.

One musician who often performed with McCumbers is clawhammer banjo player Kim Johnson. Johnson works for Goldenseal Magazine, which is published by the WV Division of Culture and History. She also plays with the Modock Rounders, who will be performing at the Dance Stage from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Johnson did not take up the banjo until she was 25 years-old, which proves that it is never too late to begin something new. Soon, she was being taught by the great West Virginia fiddler Wilson Douglas and would perform with him until his death in 1999.