Junior Appalachian Musicians, Inc. (JAM), a nonprofit organization based in Independence, VA, is coordinating a showcase of youth performers at the upcoming International Bluegrass Music Association’s Wide Open Bluegrass festival in Raleigh, North Carolina on the weekend of September 29 and 30. This will make the fourth year JAM, Inc. has featured young old time and bluegrass musicians during IBMA’s annual event, which drew over 200,000 people in 2016.
The JAM Stage is part of the free street fest, Wide Open Bluegrass, and will program nearly twelve hours of music each day from noon until 11 p.m. Thirteen groups of young performers, many of whom got their start from a JAM program, will be featured on the stage in addition to headlining acts Carl Jackson, Larry Cordle & Jerry Salley, The Trailblazers, and Joe Newberry & April Verch.
Karlie Keepfer (Sparta, NC) will be in Raleigh to represent Alleghany Junior Appalachian Musicians, the original JAM program founded by musician Helen White in 2000. Keepfer has been playing claw hammer banjo and singing Appalachian ballads alongside her mother, Lujean, who was instrumental in helping White start the program at Sparta School. In addition to her set on Saturday afternoon, Keepfer, who has taken an interest in instrument making, will be featured with Wayne Henderson and the rest of the Virginia Luthiers Band during their Friday performance on the JAM stage.
From Watauga County, NC, Strictly Strings and the Tater Hill Mashers will share the JAM Stage spotlight for the second year in a row. Both groups play traditional mountain music that they first learned in the Boone JAM program. While Strictly Strings is comprised of four JAM graduates and their former instructor, Cecil Gurganus, the members of the Tater Hill Mashers are active JAM kids and range in age from 10 to 13.
Cane Mill Road, another Western North Carolina youth band, will showcase their own style of bluegrass music. Band leader, multi-instrumentalist and singer Liam Purcell started in the Boone JAM program when he was 6 years old. Now 15, Purcell is joined by Trajan Wellington and Eliot Smith, as well as Casey Lewis, who is a JAM instructor in Bland County, VA.
Additional JAM kids from throughout North Carolina and Virginia will be highlighted in performing bands during the weekend. ShadowGrass, featuring JAM alum and current instructor Luke Morris (Galax, VA), will close the show on Saturday after daytime sets by The Lang Sisters and The Hill Family, both formerly of the Chatham County, NC JAM program. The Ashe JAM Band of Jefferson and the Creekside Crawfish, who will represent the Transylvania JAM program of Brevard, will provide old time and celtic- infused mountain music on Saturday, as well.
The JAM stage lineup is rounded out with appearances by youth and family acts Ruth Shumway and the High Ridge Pickers, Eliza Meyer & Friends, and the Yates Family & Acoustic Heritage .
The JAM stage will be located at the intersection of Martin Street and Fayetteville Street in downtown Raleigh. The full schedule is available online at www.wideopenbluegrass.com