JUNIOR APPALACHIAN MUSICIANS PERFORM AT BOARD OF SUPERVISORS MEETING
WYTHEVILLE, Va. – Preserving traditional music and investing in local students are all a part of the Junior Appalachian Musicians’ legacy. The JAM group from Smyth County recently performed at the Wythe County Board of Supervisors meeting.
JAM Regional Director Jim Lloyd said he’s been instructing music for around 34 years.
“JAM was founded about 18 years ago by a lady named Helen White, who started it in Sparta, North Carolina,” Lloyd said. “First off, our target was to help the kids. Secondly, it helps preserve the music of Appalachia. We really stress traditional music. This year we’re adding on seven in Tennessee and one in Wythe County. This has been an ambition of mine for a long time. This not only helps the kids, but it helps us preserve our music.”
The first song performed by the local JAM music students was entitled “Down Yonder.” The students focus on traditional Appalachian music.
Dustin St. John, 13, from Chilhowie played the bass at the Board of Supervisors Meeting on Dec. 11 alongside Nicholas Wingo, 15, from Rural Retreat and Ashlyn Montgomery, 13, from Chilhowie.
“We started in Smyth County about four years ago,” Lloyd said. “In the first year we had 101 kids sign up. We had three instructors. That was a lot of fun, but we got it done. These students playing tonight are the cream of the crop. They’ve been with the JAM in Smyth County since it started.”
Lloyd said officials plan to start the Wythe County JAM in January.
“We’re starting in Wythe County with the banjo, fiddle, bass and guitar,” Lloyd said. “Frances Emerson and the Department of Museums have agreed to be the parenting organization so we’re going to start here on January 31.”
JAM Director Brett Morris said officials have 45 programs in four states, including the one that is starting in Wythe County.
“Music is a life changer,” Morris said. “It might give them a place to belong if they don’t feel like they fit in.”
Lloyd said this group recently played at the Virginia State Fair.
“I wish you could have seen them at the state fair,” Lloyd said. “I had a ball just watching them. They had me on a stage the size of this podium. And had them on something, that looked like a rock star would be on. There was probably a 1,000 people for that.”
Lloyd said this will be a great opportunity for local kids.
“I think this is a wonderful opportunity for the kids of Wythe County,” Lloyd said. “They will be playing at farmer’s markets and museums.”
Residents can check out the performance at the board meeting by clicking on the following link:
If you would like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Wythe County officials, please call Blake Stowers at 276-223-4522 or email Blake at [email protected]