HENLAWSON — The grandson of West Virginia folk legend Virginia Myrtle “Aunt Jennie” Wilson will share the stage with other notable old-time musicians during a pair of free Labor Day concerts hosted by Museum in the Park at Chief Logan State Park.
Wilson’s grandson and Logan native Roger Bryant, whose musical roots are in the old-time and folk music traditions, will serve as emcee this year for the 11th annual “Aunt Jennie Music Festival” Sat., Sept. 5, and Sun., Sept. 6. Bryant, who has shared the stage with Tom T. Hall, Tammy Wynette, Kathy Mattea and Kris Kristofferson, also will open for Saturday’s 4-11 p.m. concert.
Bryant achieved national attention in the late 1970s with his song “Stop the Flow of Coal” and has recorded four albums, the most recent of which is “On the Banks of the Old Guyan.” Last year, he was the recipient of the Division of Culture and History’s Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folklife honor.
Other Saturday performers include The Earl of Elkview, George Daugherty, a trial lawyer who has traveled the world singing and talking about West Virginia; The Dick Taylor Band, a bluegrass group from Chapmanville; Sasha Colette, a singer and songwriter with rock and roll, country and soul roots; The Full Moon Boys, a traditional bluegrass band with members from Cabell, Kanawha and Roane counties; Jeff Ellis, a Huntington native who has appeared on Mountain Stage, was a featured artist on National Public Radio and one of five co-winners of the 2008 Mountain Stage NewSong Songwriting Contest; and the Coal Fired Band, a group based in Logan that plays rock, southern rock and country music from the 1960s through the 1990s.
Sunday’s concert, set for 1-8:15 p.m., will feature Glen Simpson, a folk musician from Hardy, Ky.; Cora and Fred Hairston, gospel singers from Omar; Elaine Purkey, known for her powerful voice, mountain singing and “The Friendly Neighbor Show” band from the weekly radio program on WVOW Radio in Logan; Robert Shafer and The Pour House Band, a country band based in the Charleston area; The Samples Brothers, an old-time music and bluegrass band from Duck; The Stewarts, a gospel group from Clear Fork; The West Virginia All-Star Bluegrass Band, a part-time bluegrass super band from central West Virginia; and The Street Players, a classic rock band from Logan.
The concerts will be held at the Pickin’ in the Park theater, located in the old park stables building in Chief Logan State Park. The theater is halfway between the Liz Spurlock Amphitheater and the campgrounds.
Jennie Wilson was born in 1900 in the Doc Ellis hollow of what is now Chief Logan State Park. She was one of the first women in the region to learn to play the banjo, and her music and storytelling made her internationally known for her preservation of Appalachian culture. Wilson died in 1992.
Visitors also are welcome to tour the Museum in the Park and see the current exhibits on display. They include We Are Marshall; Railroads and Coal Mining in Southern West Virginia; Dehue: A Special Place; Ron Moxley Collection; Buffalo Creek; Communities Grieve; Early Farming in West Virginia; Blenko: West Virginia’s Gift to the World; Vandalia Award Winners; and the General Store. There also are quilts, textiles, looms, spinning wheels and a Conestoga Wagon made in the 1880s in Berkeley County on display.
For more information about the festival, contact Debby Durham at the Museum in the Park, at 304-792-7229.