Music of the Coalfields Concert Monday, April 20 at Beckley Higher Education Center

For Immediate Release: 
Apr 08 2009

CONTACT: Rachel Booth
Bill O’Brien, Director, Beckley Center


Music of the Coalfields Concert Monday, April 20 at Beckley Higher Education Center

Athens, W.Va. – Concord University and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority will offer a free concert featuring bluegrass and traditional music by Alan Johnston on Monday, April 20 at 7 p.m. at the Erma Byrd Higher Education Center, Room E10, 300 University Drive, Beaver.

Johnston will be accompanied by singers and traditional musicians and will play music from the West Virginia coalfields. The concert is a part of the community lecture series offered in conjunction with the academic class Coal Culture in West Virginia, taught by Karen Vuranch.

Alan Johnston, of McDowell County, has been playing traditional and bluegrass music since he was twelve years old. His love of old-time music began by listening to his father, an award-winning fiddle player. Johnston has passed down this talent to his own children, and two of his daughters--Jessi Shumate and Stacy Grubb, both talented recording artists in their own right--will join him as singers in this concert.

Alan’s band is no stranger to Southern West Virginia audiences. In the 1970s, he played on Country Showcase on WVVA –TV in Bluefield for four years with popular musician Mel Street. Currently, he is in bluegrass band called South 52. Two other members of the band will also join in the concert on April 20, Steve Acord and Charlie Davis. Acord is an accomplished fiddler from Raleigh County and has won the state mandolin competitions several times. Davis will play the banjo and Dobro.

The group will perform music from the West Virginia coalfields including some standards, as well as original compositions. They will also perform several songs from the production of Terror of the Tug, a play written by Jean Battlo about the coal mine wars in West Virginia.

“We are delighted to have Alan and his group perform at the Beckley Center of Concord University,” stated course instructor Karen Vuranch. “Music is such an important part of the history of the coal camps and helps us to understand coal culture.” Vuranch went on to say that this is the fourth in a series of lectures that she has offered this semester. “This is a collaborative effort between Concord University and the Coal Heritage Highway Authority and we are trying to explore the rich history of the West Virginia coalfields.


CONCORD UNIVERSITY NOTES: Persons with disabilities should contact Nancy Ellison, 1-304-384-6086 or 1-800-344-6679, extension 6086 if special assistance or help is required for access to an event scheduled by the University on campus.